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Should burkas be banned in the UK? Show more Show less

Boris Johnson MP recently divided opinion - drawing condemnation from the Prime Minister and provoking a disciplinary investigation by his Conservative Party - for controversial remarks about Muslim women who wear burkas/burqas. Though he did not advocate a ban, his comments have reignited the debate following bans on the full-face-and-body coverings becoming law in countries including France, Belgium, and Denmark. This conversation looks at whether similar prohibitions should be introduced in the UK. It operates on the basis that women are making a free choice when wearing burkas, and are not forced to be doing so - something which all parties would reject.
A ban would infringe civil liberties, inflame tensions and would be impractical to enforce.
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Personal liberty should be prioritised

A burka ban would infringe Muslim women's rights to religious freedom and civil liberties.

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Context

In some places, including the Spanish town of Lleida, attempts to ban the burka have been overturned in national courts over concerns that it restricts religious liberties.[1]

The Argument

For those who interpret Islam's teachings as requiring them to wear a burka for their faith, they should be free to do so in the same way as anyone else who chooses religious clothing. While the UK does not have a written constitution which heralds individual liberty in the same way the USA does - primary legislation including the Human Rights Act protects freedom of speech and religion. Under this legislation, the wearing of religious attire, including crosses, kippahs and Islamic veils, is protected as a civil right.

Counter arguments

The Burka is Not a Religious Freedom The burka is not an essential part of the Islamic faith. It is a personal choice. Therefore, banning the burka is not a violation of someone's religious freedoms. They are still free to practice the Islamic faith and are able to do so, free from restriction, harassment or hindrance. [2]

Premises

[P1] Freedom of expression and religion is a civil right. [P2] A burka ban would infringe that right. [P3] Therefore, burkas should not be banned.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P2] A burka ban would not infringe that right because wearing a burka is not an essential facet of Islam.

References

  1. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-13038095
  2. http://law.emory.edu/eilr/content/volume-25/issue-3/comments/burqa-ban-limitation-religious-freedom-restriction.html

Proponents

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This page was last edited on Tuesday, 7 May 2019 at 15:55 UTC