In the past five years, Islamophobia, fear and distrust of Muslims and of the Islamic religion, has heightened following the creation of the new major terror group, ISIS. ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, is responsible for about 70 terror attacks across the world and has caused tensions to rise as all nations fear the possibility of a terror attack. In France, for example, Islamophobia skyrocketed following the 2015 shooting at the Charlie Hebdo newspaper office in Paris. In addition, the recent surge of refugees into Germany fleeing the war torn Middle East has created unrest as citizens fear that terrorists are among the refugees in Germany. Because of the many terror attacks perpetrated by ISIS, many nations profile all Muslims, women and men alike, as terrorists out of fear. Consequently, France, Germany, and Austria have all proposed legislation to ban the burqa or niqab, a covering traditional to Islam that covers a woman’s entire body except for her eyes. These three nations see the burqa as a threat and believe it could conceal a weapon, when, in reality, the burqa is simply an expression of islamic religion. Because the burqa ban profiles and attacks the religious and personal freedom of Muslim women, the burqa ban qualifies as a new act of islamophobia and directly infringes human rights.
Because the burqa ban profiles all Muslim women as terrorists or as a possible threat, the burqa ban demonstrates islamophobia and an unjust prejudice against Muslim women. Similar to its European neighbors, the Netherlands, a traditionally liberal, accepting country, declared a burqa ban in public places in November of 2016. While the Dutch officials see the burqa ban as common sense to protect the nation, opponents of the law see it as prejudicial and restrictive of personal freedoms (Beck 1). By imposing the burqa ban, the Netherlands, France, and Germany play into the fear that ISIS and other terrorist attacks have caused. Through the burqa ban, these three nations profile all Muslim women as terrorists and as a threat to the security of the nation, when most of the Muslims in these nations have recently fled a war torn nation in the Middle East. Would refugees really be seeking to harm the nation they have recently been given refuge in? In this way, the burqa ban discriminates against Muslim women and perpetuates the rising sense of Islamophobia throughout the world. Similarly, Tunahan Kuzu, a Dutch member of Parliament disagrees with the burqa ban and sees in as an unjust action of the government: “‘It is reprehensible to exclude these women and isolate them because of a subject anxiety among certain citizens,’ said Dutch MP Tunahan Kuzu” (Beck 1). Kuzu’s statement accurately depicts that the burqa ban is legislation created out of fear and anxiety of the majority, and this legislation has infringed on the rights of the minority, the Muslim women. Similar to the Netherlands, Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany, instituted a burqa ban: “Just two months ago, Ms. Merkel rejected such a ban. ‘Liberty protects the freedom to be different,’ she said, ‘and diversity is a logical consequence of freedom.’ But on Tuesday, she told her party, the Christian Democratic Union, that the full veil must be banned ‘wherever it is legally possible’” (“Germany’s shift toward a burqa ban” 1). Just as Merkel states, liberty allows for diversity, and diversity results from the freedom of expression, religion, and speech. Merkel contradicts herself by instating the burqa ban and ultimately takes away the liberty she previously spoke about. Therefore, the burqa ban infringes on the civil rights of the Muslim women and profiles them as a terrorist threat to the nation.
Because the burqa ban undermines Muslim women’s freedom of religion and of expression, the burqa ban clearly depicts islamophobia and infringes on the women’s human rights. On July 28, the “burkini ban” was instituted in Cannes exactly two weeks after the attacks on Nice during Bastille Day. Following this new “burkini” ban, many French muslims have protested the ban, declaring that it is discriminatory because the ordinance states that “religious freedom can be curtailed for security reasons and does not mention any particular faith” (Breeden 1). Although the ordinance does not state a particular faith, it is clear that the ordinance is directed towards Muslim women. Furthermore, religious freedom should never be limited simply because of heightened fears following terror attacks. Muslims, women in this specific instance, should not be profiled as terrorists just because there have been previous attacks originating from ISIS. These Muslim women deserve to have their right to practice their religion openly protected, and they should not be penalized for exercising their right to practice their religion. The ban on the burqa essentially declares it unlawful for women of the islamic religion to practice their religion in public. It is grossly unjust for the government to take away a person’s freedom to practice their religion.
Although many foreign nations see the burqa as a threat to national security because it conceals the entire body, the burqa is just a way women express their islamic religion. France, Germany, and the Netherlands, who have all instituted a burqa ban, justify the legislation by arguing that the burqa conceals too much of the body: “‘In interpersonal communication, which plays a fundamental role here, we show our face,’ [Merkel] said in reference to the Islamic full-body covering that, while rarely worn in Germany, retains symbolic resonance for much of the public, and has emerged as a touchstone for the far right” (Iaconangelo 1). Angela Merkel, representing Germany in this instance, argues that suspicion arises when you cannot make eye contact with the person you are speaking to. She uses this idea to support the theory that women wearing burqas could be concealing more than just their identity. Furthermore, Merkel, and officials of France and Germany, argue that the burqa ban is a necessary measure to secure the nation, but by taking this necessary measure, these three nations are curtailing the civil rights of Muslim women. The burqa solely expresses the religion that Muslim women practice every single day. Their freedom to express and practice their religion should not be taken away just because their bodies are too concealed. Why all of a sudden is it just to take away a person’s rights simply because tensions and fears have increased in recent years? The burqa and these Muslim women’s rights to express their religion need to be respected. No other religion is limited because of the way they dress or cover their bodies, so the Muslim religion should not be either. Fear is not a good enough reason to take away someone’s natural rights.
In conclusion, because the burqa ban profiles and attacks the religious and personal freedom of Muslim women, the burqa ban qualifies as a new act of islamophobia and directly infringes human rights. In the countries of France, Germany, and the Netherlands, the burqa ban clearly discriminates against women of the Islamic faith and profiles these women as terrorists. The burqa ban uses fear as a justification to take away Muslim women’s rights to freedom of expression, and this legislation only increases islamophobia by creating an association of terrorism with burqas and the Islamic faith. The burqa ban unjustly infringes on Muslim women’s natural rights and should be revoked because under no circumstances should a person’s freedom of religion be limited.