The Belgium nationwide ban of the face veil in all public places including government buildings, hospitals, and in the streets came into force on Saturday 23rd July, making dressing modestly a crime. Muslim women who fail to comply face a fine of 137.50 euros or imprisonment for up to 7 days. Belgium now alongside France shamefully joins the league of other autocratic states such as Uzbekistan, Syria, and Turkey who have also imposed bans on religious dress. Belgium politicians supporting the law have ludicrously cited women’s rights, preventing division of communities, and the need for social integration as feeble justifications for outlawing the garment. Liberal MP Daniel Bacquelaine who proposed the bill commented, “wearing the burqa is not compatible with an open, liberal, tolerant society.”
The law was approved by the Belgium parliament with cross-party support and an almost unanimous vote in April 2010 – a time when the Belgium government faced a dire political crisis and was at the brink of collapse. Clearly, this debate that consumed valuable parliamentary time over a dress worn by a mere 200-300 women in a country of population 10 million at a time where the country was being torn apart by communal political differences, served to conveniently divert public attention from the inability of their politicians or democratic system to create political stability and a cohesive society. Debates over a piece of cloth that continue to rage within political circles of other secular European countries such as Denmark, Austria, Spain, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland at a time of economic meltdown and a grave Eurozone crisis similarly serve to deflect public anger from the economic deficiencies of their governments and destructive fall out of their capitalist systems.
Dr. Nazreen Nawaz, Central Media Representative, Hizb ut-Tahrir, commented, “While European governments face the wrath of their public due to the devastating effects of their capitalist casino financial system, it is blatantly clear that they are using this diversionary ‘Niqab debate’ as their own veil to conceal the political and economic inadequacies of their capitalist secular liberal ideology. They are effectively using Muslim women as human shields to protect them from the fury of their people caused by their political and economic incompetence.”
“It is farcical that Belgium politicians are attempting to lay the blame for community division on a piece of cloth worn by a miniscule fraction of women within their borders while the country has been split apart due to communal differences between its French and Dutch speaking populations. It is obvious that it is ethnic or nationalistic based politics as well as stigmatising the culture of minorities that breeds intolerance, divides communities, and stokes racial tensions in addition to providing a green light to bigots to insult Muslims.”
“It is becoming all too familiar what an ‘open, liberal, tolerant society’ really represents – the openness to exploit the bodies of women in advertising and entertainment but not for them to dress modestly; the liberty to insult the culture of minorities and strip them of their rights; and the tolerance to racist expression and discriminatory legislation. Furthermore, as Belgium breaks the world record for the absence of a government (15 months), illustrating the weakness in its secular democratic system in healing the divide between its people; as xenophobia rises across Europe; as massive inequalities in wealth serve as an indictment of free-market economics; and as social and family meltdown afflicts liberal societies – all reflective of the failures of the secular ideology – it is understandable why European parliaments would see the need to employ repressive social integration policies that use coercion rather than conviction in order to get Muslim women to embrace their flawed values in exchange for sound Islamic ones.”
“Niqab bans simply provide yet another example of how the capitalist secular liberal democratic system offers no model for life for Muslims in the West nor a model for governance for the Muslim world. Unlike the secular democratic system, Islam or the Islamic Caliphate ruling system views modesty as a virtue rather than a crime. It prohibits the stigmatization of minorities in opportunistic political games by those in authority and the rights of citizenship of Muslims and non-Muslims, men and women are set in stone rather than fluid and determined by political interests. Legislation that is derived from a fixed Islamic basis prevents the prejudice of the majority from stripping away the basic rights of minorities and the shunning of nationalistic based politics in exchange for laws that ensure that the needs of all ethnicities and faith groups are respected and fulfilled equally establishes a sound basis for harmonising society. This is a system therefore that does not need to use ‘smokescreen politics’ in order to win over its people.”