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Seeing through the Veil

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Seeing through the Veil

As banning the burqa continues to be all the rage, with France & Belgium having already outlawed it, we ask the British public what they think. Should the burqa be banned in the interest of women’s emancipation, integration and national security? Or, should we look beyond the veil and ask, is it the state’s business to tell us what we can and cannot wear, let alone what we should or should not believe in? This compelling report which includes eloquent pro and anti-ban views, does suggest that UK citizens are not ban-happy and many hold freedom of expression and womens’ ability to make their own choices as principles worth defending. As one woman tells us “secularism is not about banning anything it’s about getting along & the idea of banning a piece of cloth takes us into la la land.”

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Related topics: Civil Liberties, Democracy, International, Social Change

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KirkB said:

If a man went around in a balaklava where ever they went would that concern you? It’s about being able identify people especially when they enter the government buildings or the establishments of others. I remember watching a debate on the burka and a “woman” wearing the burka stood up to speak to the presenters and she took off her head covering and it was actually a man. He said he could have gone into the woman bathroom or other women only places and no one would have known. A rapist could use one to go into women bathrooms and assault women.
In muslim countries many wanted men have used the burqa/niqab to escape police detection. In Iraq and Afghanistan soldiers have caught enemy jihadists using the burqa/niqab to try to escape detection. Sometimes they get caught, but how often do they get away?

Being able to identify an individual is important goes beyond any claims of piety.

ugg boots said:

Best to U. I do think its about the most informative post from this theme. Lookin forward.

Martyna said:

Great report! It shows the diverse opinions and reactions to the ban and it demonstrates how this topic is not an easy one to approach!

Andy H said:

I think the burqa ban indicates the fear of Islam as either a reactionary or radical ‘other’ religion. In reality, however, Islam is just another conservative religion. Freedom of expression is the important point to make on this issue.

Ke said:

I really liked the piece for covering a wide range of views. Now I have a better idea why some people hold these views.

It is interesting how issues of gender, religion and culture can intersect. Further, the speaker who wore a veil brought up that others could make assumptions about class and education.

Joe said:

Great film, some really interesting and well-articulated views. For me, the security argument for banning the burqa is such patent nonsense I don’t even know where to start debunking it, but I think the policy makers behind the ban would admit as much themselves. In my experience the ban tends to be justified in terms of saving women from oppression – the argument being that the burqa is an instrument for the subjugation of women. As one of the contributors pointed out, if the idea behind it is to prevent women from provoking lascivious or impure thoughts in men, then that’s unacceptable – women shouldn’t be held responsible for male problems. However while I support that point, I also doubt that that’s the sole religious ground for wearing a burqa – not that I’m any kind of expert, just that I’m wary of blanket generalisations, particularly given that religious faith is such a personal thing. I’m sure every woman will have her own set of reasons for wearing or not wearing a veil. And even if it is true and the burqa is oppressive to women, a ban is not going to magically liberate those women who are forced to wear it – it’s just going to stop them leaving the house and integrating into society or coming into contact with alternative ideas. If you want to help women who genuinely are oppressed you have to reach out to them, not oppress them further by telling them what they can or can’t wear in public. In effect those who want to ban the burqa are no better than the men who insist upon women wearing it.

Katja said:

Seeing through the Veil is a great documentary about banning the burqa and it clearly shows that this topic involves critical thinking. That means that they are always two sides of a problem and that we have to be aware of the different perspectives. One perspectives is that the burqa avoids integration but doesnt it show that we are a multicultural society? And restricticting something is never a good thing. So why avoiding that someone is reflecting his identity and his religion? In my mind, the state shouldnt tell us what to do. Another perspective we should consider is : why they wear their burqa. Simply showing their culture and their religion or simply because their are used to or because of their society they are living in. They should do want they want to and not the state should tell them what to do.

Opinions On Veil Ban | mad and loud said:

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Richard said:

These interviews reaffirms that there is place in our society for citizen journalism. It is through such non-commercial driven platforms, we have unpretentious opinions on the kind of issues we carry around with us daily. Whilst most of the interviewees share an overwhelming view that, it is not for governments to dictate the apparels of those who have elect them. Some however, seem to struggle with their individual understanding and representations of the burqa. People are known for developing phobias over things they do not quite understand. The collective views in ‘Seeing through the Veil’ helps those still struggling with their understandings of the natural wear of the veil, to come to terms with their struggles and dismiss them as mainstream media propaganda. As one interviewee puts it; a piece of cloth does not determine the intellect of a person.

Irene said:

This gripped me, I only had 20 minutes so thought I would come back to it but had to stay and watch it till the end! There is so much to say and think about here. I was struck earlier on by the man who was outraged at the idea of the government telling us what we can wear but then argued that the Bed and Breakfast owners should be prosecuted for saying no to a gay couple staying in the same room. He argued, and I paraphrase, that we should be left alone to live how we want to as long as we are not harming anybody and in his view the B&B owners were harming gay people and so the government should get involved. My concern is that the government are constantly stripping away our freedoms based on paternalistic assumptions of our so called vulnerability. They pass laws and policies in the name of ‘protecting us’ not just from real danger but from emotional harm and every day battles. I think this is what we have to fight against, freedoms such as free association or a public and private sphere away from the government’s reach was hard fought for in the past and needs to be claimed back again. Don’t you think so?

Ceri Dingle said:

This a great report and really fascinating – it raises real questions on how best to defend our freedoms. The guy who bigs up the idea that Britain would never ban religious freedoms then promptly justifies the prosecution of the B& B bigots is classic-sadly he clearly thinks we have to look to the state for protection. The French lady is then interesting as she shows what the state rescuing people really means i.e. contempt. She also cleverly argues that France banning the veil is not departing from an Enlightenment spawned secular state- upholding freedom of religious belief, as the face veil is not in the Koran ergo wearing it is not a religious act. She also sees us as potential lunatics running around stabbing and looting if it were not for government rules. The atheist is classic holding people in the greatest contempt and supporting a ban on the burqa. It is striking then that only a defence of freedom meaning our capacity to sort matters for ourselves becomes the most vital argument to win. That then raises the problem of political disenchantment and distrust in our fellow man- a major problem to solve. Overall the report shows the merits of taking the public seriously and the huge potential of serious citizen TV. Well done all.

shoeless joe said:

YEAH! the public says wear whatever you want, express yourself, government should be focus on more important political issues… and not acting as the fashion police. Assumptions about people based on their appearance happens on a daily basis, whether positive or negative, that’s in the eye of the beholder. the majority of the public are tolerant and open to whatever, especially in this multi-cultural society that we live in. If a ban is put in place here in the UK, it will be doing the opposite of liberating and protecting or whatever… instead, it will be oppressing the very idea of “diversity.” if the ban was approved it would suck major D.

Carol said:

Wow! I thought this report was great, well balanced, with both negative and (mainly) positive views of the wearing of the burqa. I enjoyed hearing different defences of the burqa. And it was mentioned more than once, that if it is banned, then should wearing glasses or hoodies etc. be banned too? It made me think even more rediculous bans could be tried…will the government want to ban jewish women from wearing wigs (no offence to the jewish religion). Will they want us to stop colouring or styling our hair because its not our true identity…I could go on.
I think it is the personal choice of the individual to what they wear, if I decide I want to wear a burqa, then I will!
A really interesting and important report that needs to be seen by all.

admin said:

Excellent video. Well done! Best reportage I have seen on the issue of the face veil ban. What this cross-section of public opinion on the streets of London shows is that there is no excuse whatsoever to bring in a ban. People are not racists and it seems more generally that the public see more clearly that neither is what a Muslim woman chooses to wear as a matter of her religious belief the business of the state, nor are all burqa clad women passive victims. We should all reject any talk of such bans on the principle of guarding our liberty and protecting our freedom of conscience and our right to come to our own decisions based on reasoned debate and a public discussion, not through bans!

fxtina said:

I can almost understand why certain people may feel slightly threatened by someone in a face veil, but I don’t think this should mean there is a right to ban the burqa completely, that’s a bit extreme! I mean if it’s a way of the women expressing themselves through their religion, and it’s their own choice to wear it, why then should the government have any right to intervene and ban the burqa?
These vox pops show that Britain is not a nation of racists and actually couldn’t care less about women in head scarves or face veils. Really good report but I think it would have been much better if there was an interview with a woman in a full burqa, to hear what she had to say about the matter… 2 thumbs up!