A Thumbs-Up for Gender Apartheid in Sweden

Bruce Bawer is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center and the author of “While Europe Slept” and “Surrender.” His book "The Victims' Revolution: The Rise of Identity Studies and the Closing of the Liberal Mind" is just out from Broadside / Harper Collins.


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“Just as students must show respect for the school and its staff,” he writes, “the school must also show respect for each individual.” Never mind that the whole idea of the niqab is to rob Muslim women and girls of individuality in the eyes of everyone other than their families. The veiling issue is highly sensitive, Nordström writes, because it’s “about religion and culture” and also “about clothes that may be impractical in different contexts and that can also make it harder for the teacher to communicate with the student.” Nordström either is unaware, or unwilling to address the fact, that the niqab is also – is, indeed, primarily – about the subordinate position of females in Islam.

The editors of the Swedish newspaper Dagen are also pleased by Skolverket’s ruling.  They congratulate Skolverket for finding “the golden mean,” and describe its guidelines as “balanced and considered.” They feel that it’s “right to let the practical aspects determine whether the veil should be taken off,” and insist that it would have been “absurd” to impose a total niqab ban in the schools.

Indeed, Dagen‘s editors wax poetic about the importance of religious freedom – which, they maintain, takes on meaning “only when it can be put into practice,” even if it’s practiced in ways that may “seem arcane or unsuitable to the situation.” That freedom, they insist, “must apply to all, including those whose beliefs differ from the majority.” There seems no awareness on their part – or, at least, no willingness to acknowledge – that every time a Muslim girl appears in public in niqab, it is an affront to the very idea of individual freedom.

To be sure, there are some people in Sweden who see through all this madness – though, alas, few if any of them are in a position to do anything about it.  For instance, a blogger for Norrköpings Tidningar asks why Swedish schools should adapt themselves to “extreme manifestations of religion” and notes that while some people in the Middle East are fighting the niqab, Sweden is embracing it.

In an opinion piece for Skånsa Dagbladet entitled “Indulgence of the Cultural Oppression of Women,” Lars J. Eriksson cuts to the chase: “Most Muslim women do not cover their faces. Many do not even cover their hair. It is even doubtful whether the niqab and the burqa can be seen as required by religious edict.  Instead it is about a cultural tradition in societies where the woman’s value is lower than the man’s.” Erikssen laments that while women are fleeing male oppression in Muslim lands, Sweden is giving a friendly nod to primitive Islamic patriarchy.

Skolverket has, then, made crystal clear its determination to pretend that niqab is simply a matter of religious freedom and that it should be prohibited only in “special” circumstances for purely “practical” reasons.  And the powerful Swedes who have embraced Skolverket’s ruling have done so with a palpable relief at having managed to avoid confronting the incompatibility of yet another aspect of Islamic culture and belief with day-to-day life in a Western country founded on freedom and equality.

The editors of Dagen, in their self-righteous editorial, puff on about how the freedom of religion is rooted in the Swedish constitution and in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  But virtually nobody with authority in Sweden, it would appear, is prepared to publicly address the very real issue that niqab raises, and that speaks to the very essence of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  I am referring, of course, to the right of a young girl living in Western Europe in 2012 not to be forced to attend school in a dehumanizing garment that could hardly be improved upon as a symbol of a belief system that mocks every value the post-Enlightenment West stands for.

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  • Alvaro

    What a great outfit if you want to rob banks. It has a lot of advantages over ski masks. You can hide almost anything under there, no one has any idea who you are, it is easy to slip into the crows of niqab wearers. And if the police get to close, scream about racism, bigotry and how they violate your sacred religion.

    • intrcptr2

      Just like the palis with their dynamite belts…

  • David M

    Sweden's Islamization trend is horrible. Everything is hate speech but you have the freedom to hate and insult Christianity and straight white Christian male. One word against Islam or Muslims is worse than murder. Palestinians ( the most violent, hateful and backward) are the holiest species on earth. The Left (socialists, communists, greens, Lutheran church and labor unions) have found Islam as their new religion ( they hate every religion other than Islam) and openly support Hamas. You see more women in hejab in Swedish cities than in Istanbul, Baku (capital of Azerbaijan) or Tirana (capital of Albania). It is hard to believe but Azerbaijan and Albania are more pro-America and pro-Israel than Sweden (not pro-Israel) and Norway (the worst anti-Semite country in Europe). I would like to add that I'm not Albanian or Azerbaijani and not a Christians or Jewish. I see the downfall of the Western civilization.

  • oldtimer

    I don't understand how women can let this happen. Your great grandmothers stood up for their rights to equally work and vote. Was all their hard work and sacrifice for nothing?

    • ilia toli

      It was just too easy and fun to stand up back then. Now that it's dangerous, everybody's chickening out.

      • oldtimer

        You need to read up on the suffragette movement. Far from fun and easy. They were thrown into prisons and force fed and humiliated in many other ways. And it was dangerous then.

        • oldtimer

          I am referring to the early 1900's not the 60's.

  • http://feminine-genius.typepad.com/morning_star gsk

    If Europeans were willing to have a serious debate about modesty, then it would serve to flesh out the two extremes: 1. No one can tell me what to wear (or not to wear); and 2. Islam says that I am the property of the men in my life and not to be seen by others.

    Atheists and those who subscribe to the sexual liberation can agree with 1., while many Muslims subscribe to 2. As long as the argument is reduced to individual freedom founded on multiculturalism, it will be a sloppy freeforall. Unfortunately, there are few who will prudently discuss legitimate authority and authentic freedom, so we bash away at any constraints.

    • hajid

      How about a Musselman dressed in a niqab to bombed himself up along with others? Woud him be a martyr who can go to some place and have 72 something, or go to some place because he dressed in woman's clothes and according to Koran, belongs to another man?

  • Brujo Blanco

    There are places in Europe where any woman enters not dressed in a manner appeoved by the Muslims that woman will be attacked by Muslim men. This manner of dress is a mask. Stores should not allow anyone wearing a mask to enter.

  • http://libertyandculture.blogspot.com/ JasonPappas

    Religious freedom allows unlimited freedom of belief, not unlimited freedom of practice. If any practice could be allowed under the banner of religious freedom all laws would become null and void. Clearly the dehumanizing practice of the niqab should be banned in public.

  • mrbean

    The Swedish and Norway as well have a left wing, Muslim-apologist slant along with disdain for anyone with the guts to challenge an ideology that is closer to a fascist dictatorship than anything resembling a religion. Instead of defending womens rights, lest they offend the sociopathic Muslims, they keep feeding the sharia crocodile in hopes that he will eat them last.

  • Ciccio

    The Smithtonian photo archives – available online – have the Abdul Hamid II
    collection 1880-1893. This was the last Ottoman sultan and it was to show the modernity of the Empire. There are a few photos of various girl schools and surprise surprise, not a veil or face covering in sight. They not only show their faces but also their hair, that must be the reason for the demise of the Ottoman empire, struck down by Allah for this blasphemy.

  • Ann

    just think you can get fat and be ugly, no one will ever know —this could be great!!! no one will know how old you are—this could work, we would never have to see Clinton ,Pelosi, Wasserman,Boxer-everyone in the media —don't look a gift horse, ya know what I mean!!! this could be good!!!

  • sidefilippe

    What's education? Was it teaching the student about something or the other way around? If the Musselmen don't like the education system in where they invaded, they have the freedom to opt out, or maybe not? Have those niqab wearing students sign the waiver regarding safety issues, so when they were hurt or worse, they can not blame anyone but themselves.

    The Western people are so tame and ignorant that they don't know how to react to the aggressors. Unfortunately the agressors will eat them alive!

  • carl

    Where are all the feminists? Where is their outcry? The burning of their bras in the streets?

  • Glennd1

    Where are the feminists, indeed? I'm astonished that progressive women aren't up in arms over this, and it reveals a real hypocrisy inside the feminist movement.

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