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The rise of such segregation in Europe would threaten the democratic character of the society. But should the Burqa become widespread, the status of some European women living in national capitals would begin to resemble those of Saudi and Pakistani women.
4. Segregation is Discrimination
Purdah segregates women at homes and the Burqa segregates them in public. While the authorities cannot interfere with what people choose to do in their own homes—the public wearing of the Burqa is a statement that women are unequal and must be segregated.
Such an attitude is an assault on the legal place of women in society. It imposes the norms of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia on the streets of Paris and London. Like a Klan march, it a dehumanizing and intimidating statement of bigotry against a segment of society. While in the United States, such marches are legal, in much of Europe they are not.
If radicals are prevented from making public statements about the inferiority of races, why should they be permitted to assert the inferiority of a gender.
“Men have authority over women because Allah has made the one superior to the other,” the Koran asserts. Replace ‘women’ with any race or religion, and a public assertion of such a thing would be cause for criminal proceedings.
Imposing the segregation of the Burqa on women in an assertion of a bigoted creed that dehumanizes an entire gender. While Muslims are free to believe what they do, a public display that dehumanizes women as a gender by treating their faces as obscene, is an intolerant violation of the norms of civil society.
5. The Wearing of the Burqa is Enforced Through Violence
“More often the girls were under orders from their fathers and uncles and brothers, and even their male classmates. For the boys, transforming a bluejeaned teen-age sister into a docile and observant “Muslim” virgin was a rite de passage into authority, the fast track to becoming a man, and more important, a Muslim man…. it was also a license for violence.” (Jane Kramer, Taking the Veil, New Yorker)
In 2003 a French survey found that 77 percent of girls who wore the Hijab did so because of threats. Women in the Muslim world have been punished by having acid thrown in their faces for not complying with similar demands. There is no way to break through this climate of coercion except by giving women and girls immunity from such demands by banning the source of it. The Burqa.
The Burqa also exposes women to blackmail and intimidation when they deviate from the standard of full body covering. There is a rising number of cases in which women and girls who posted Facebook pictures of themselves in normal clothes have been blackmailed and threatened for it.
As long as the Burqa remains a threat hanging over the heads of Muslim and non-Muslim women alike, no woman in Europe can truly be free from its implied threat to her person and her political freedoms.
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