Banning the Burqa

In the latest installment of NYTimes’ The Stone, Martha Nussbaum proves to be largely correct

Proponents of the burqa ban do not propose to ban all these objectifying practices. Indeed, they often participate in them. (…) Once again, then, the opponents of the burqa are utterly inconsistent, betraying a fear of the different that is discriminatory and unworthy of a liberal democracy. The way to deal with sexism, in this case as in all, is by persuasion and example, not by removing liberty

2 thoughts on “Banning the Burqa

  1. This has good introduction but I am not that all convinced by the flippant way in which she refutes the first two arguments which, in my opinion, are the only relevant ones in the case of the burqa ban. I found this bit particularly unnecessary: “Moreover, many beloved and trusted professionals cover their faces all year round: surgeons, dentists, (American) football players, skiers and skaters.” These situations are hardly equivalent!
    In normal circumstances, in order for face-to-face communication to be held on equal grounds, all participants should be able to see and read each other’s faces. Wearing a niqab, a mask or a balaklava, regardless of the reasons, interferes with the process of communication. I simply can’t see how covering one’s face is not seen an impediment to communication, especially in several fields of work (teaching, costumer service and generally any job that may require extensive face-to-face interaction with other than one’s peers). The general burqa/niqab ban is an exaggerated measure, I am not in favour of it, but I believe that in the case of certain jobs, keeping it would be simply unprofessional and possibly counter-productive. I have noticed that most defenders of the issue tend to simply overlook these matters.

  2. No. The question is: is a ban justified. And w/ these two points: do we treat other people who cover their faces in the same way? The answer to both has to be ‘no’. Can wearing the burqa be problematic? Yes. As wearing a lot of other things can be.

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