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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.
Burkas are a tool of repression and a threat to national security.
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Safety concerns should be prioritised

Wearing clothing that covers a citizen's identity poses a threat to security.

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Context

Even in Muslim-majority countries like Morocco, they have burka bans. The Moroccan government banned the sale and manufacture of burkas several years ago. The reason being that the burka presents a significant security risk.[1]

The Argument

The burka conceals a citizen's identity in public, allowing criminals and terrorists to avoid detection. In Morocco, the ban came into force after several high-profile crimes were committed using a burka to hide the criminals' identities.[2] The burka poses a security risk to any country where women are allowed to wear them freely in public. In the US, criminals in Philadelphia used a burka to hide their faces while committing kidnapping and robbery offences. [3] There is nothing to stop terrorists and criminals wearing a burka to avoid detection when carrying out or preparing to commit criminal acts. If the UK wants to protect itself from criminals and terrorists hiding their identity whilst carrying out their crimes, it should consider implementing its own burka ban for the sake of national security.

Counter arguments

There is no statistical evidence to suggest that burka's hamper efforts to identify citizens any more than wearing a large hoodie, hat or scarf might, but nobody is discussing outlawing those items. Regarding the claim that anyone could wear a burka to carry out terrorist acts, there have been no cases in the UK of anyone wearing a burka purely to carry out a terror attack undetected. In fact, globally there has only been one anecdotal case of a male wearing a burka to commit a terror attack. That was in Yemen. [4] Cases where criminals use burkas to hide their faces are also rare. There is also no reason why the criminals couldn't use another disguise instead. A former Anti Terrorist officer for Scotland Yard went on record and stated that he didn't believe a burka was a security threat. The argument for banning the burka on security grounds also falls apart when it is not extended to include other face coverings and hoods. It reveals the anti-Islamic agenda held by many proponents of the burka ban.

Premises

[P1] The ability to see people's faces helps combat crime and keep people safe. [P2] The burka inhibits that ability. [P3] Therefore, the burka represents a threat to public safety and security. [P4] Therefore, it should be banned.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P2] Other items inhibit that ability just as much but are not the subject of bans. [Rejecting P3] The burka does not present a threat to public security.

References

  1. https://theconversation.com/why-moroccos-burqa-ban-is-more-than-just-a-security-measure-72120
  2. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/morocco-bans-burqa-security-fears-bandit-a7520156.html
  3. https://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/civil-rights/307399-yes-ban-the-burqa-it-is-a-national-security-necessity
  4. https://www.channel4.com/news/factcheck/is-the-burqa-really-a-terror-threat

Proponents

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This page was last edited on Tuesday, 7 May 2019 at 15:56 UTC