Last week Senator Cory Bernardi called for a ban on the burqa, the full-face Muslim head covering, as a security hazard, a symbol of “the repressive domination of women,” something that compromises “important aspects of human communication,” and is downright “un-Australian.”
Many will agree. Even journalist Elizabeth Farrelly argued that the burqa may be acceptable on the grounds of personal morality, but not in terms of social ethics. Belgium has banned the burqa; why not Australia?
Well, Muslim women in Australia number only in the tens of thousands, and only a small proportion of those wear the burqa. A ban would not reduce violent crime. There are many other ways to conceal weapons and identity. If we ban excessively modest clothing, we should also ban excessively immodest clothing – like speedos, miniskirts, sleeveless dresses.
And a burka ban would reinforce claims that the government has the right to regulate women’s dress, undermining campaigns for women’s rights in places like Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Broadcast on 2CH Sydney, Sunday 16 May 2010.