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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.


Arguments supporting this position



There is a strong correlation between the introduction of burka bans and an increase in publicly held anti-Islamic beliefs.[1] Members of the public who harbour anti-Muslim sentiment inevitably feel emboldened by the ban and anti-Muslim rhetoric and violence begin to creep into public life.

The Argument

It is no coincidence that both France and Canada saw an increase in hate crimes against Muslim women once their burka bans had been introduced. In one study that interviewed 35 French Muslims that wore the burka prior to the ban, all 35 reported that the ban had had "significant negative effects" on their lives. 26 of the 35 also reported physical abuse and violence, with assailants pushing them, pulling off their veil, or spitting on them. [2] A similar pattern was recorded in Quebec. Dozens of assaults against Muslim women are reported at women's centres meetings across Quebec every time they convene.[3] A burka ban fosters an anti-Muslim environment and legitimises the abuse and harassment of Muslim women. It must, therefore, be avoided at all costs.

Counter arguments

A burka ban doesn't create an anti-Islamic environment. Public opinion brings about legislation, not the other way around. Our elected officials act according to public opinion. They do not set public opinion. Without the support for a burka ban in the first place, it would not become legislation. In Britain, there is already public support for a burka ban. In a national poll, 57% of Brits said they would back a burka ban. [4]


[P1] Burka bans lead to an increase in hate crimes against Muslims. [P2] Therefore, a burka ban helps foster an anti-Islamic environment. [P3] Therefore, it should not be enacted.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P2] Legislation does not create the environment, the environment creates the legislation.




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This page was last edited on Wednesday, 8 May 2019 at 16:22 UTC