Faith and religion is arguably the most controversial part of our entire human race. Wars, crusades, Genocides and hate crimes – they all so often revolve around faith and, more importantly, foreign faiths that don’t align with familiar worldviews. Like the Islam nowadays.
Ever so often in time, certain beliefs get targeted more than others. While Judaism was anything but popular in past centuries, we now observe a very deeply rooted condemnation of the Islamic faith, especially in the western world. Anger, insecurity, and violence showcased in terror attacks make it easy to justify the prejudices many carry around with them on a daily basis.
Especially western governments around the globe are often confronted with the tensions Islam creates within their countries. All of these countries grant religious freedom to their citizens, yet they increasingly pass binding restrictions to exercise certain faiths freely, especially Islam. Travel bans into the US, Burka bans across several countries and heavily promoted prejudice against Muslims appear periodically.
Government Sanctioned Exclusion
Many governments passing similar laws, as Quebec in Canada did recently, will claim it as an effort to emphasize the religious neutrality of the state. While I do identify as an Atheist, that reasoning seems flawed to me. I am of the firm belief that nations should be led secular and never have any religious bias, let alone pass decisions influenced by religion. Nevertheless, granting the freedom practicing individual faith is an essential pillar of our free democracies that must not be neglected.
There is to say that, against popular belief, Islam is not the only religion that promotes a modest dress code among women that includes covering of the hair and sometimes part of the face. Veils are used in many other religions such as Christianity and Judaism. However, and let me make this abundantly clear, we westerners suck in religions. We just don’t seem to take them seriously very much, and that’s why we ditched most of it in a mix-and-match style approach of “choosing your own religion”. However lots of Muslims do, and that’s where we most likely got the idea of the veil being an exclusive Muslim thing. That’s the same reason why all of these bans seem so out of place because they knowingly target certain beliefs, however ridiculous that might be.
Islam is Not the Only Religion to Oppress Women
There are a lot of voices that keep insisting that burkas or any face veil is the epitome of female oppression and, granted, that may be the case in certain instances. But it cannot be used in a generalized manner. Some people are using it to practice their belief genuinely. While I do believe that we have to counteract female oppression in our countries, it is counterproductive to do it by feeding the fear of a certain religion and then just stripping all practitioners of it.
People seem to forget that their own religions are not particularly fond of feminism either. Let’s just say that lots of Christian conservative hardliners love to quote the bible to voice their opposition to gay interactions but love to overlook this little gem:
“A woman[a] should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; [b] she must be quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.”
Timothy 2:11 – 2:14 (Come on, I know you want to google it)
But then again most of us (thankfully) live their faith in a mix-and-match style approach and are certainly shocked when another person is fully committed to his or her belief. However as long as practicing one’s faith does not harm another human being and complies with laws, passing new ones that specifically target a certain belief just because is not getting us anywhere. I have yet to hear a discussion about banning the open display of crosses because their carriers are known to attack innocent LGBTQ people.
We Are Creating Terrorists
If we leave the usual arguments of female oppression or the general alienness that collides with popular culture behind, there are still terror attacks and threats that are exclusively connected to Islam. As our fear of Islam gets stirred on all fronts, the prospect of not seeing the face of a possible security threat is very unsettling. For both sides that is. I have yet to come across a successful terror attack on western soil that was carried out in a burka. And even if there were one, it would be one in hundreds, neglecting the fact that the most recent shootings (not performed by Muslims) in the US have claimed more people than any ISIS terrorist could ever dream of.
We are overreacting, and while we do, we piss off Muslims all around the world and thus create more potential terrorist. Because if they didn’t hate us yet, we gave them enough fodder to change their minds. I wouldn’t blame them.
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