European Society’s Attempt to Prohibit Islamic Religious Expression Jeannine Peters
SOC 332 – Religion and Society
Dr. Thomas Russell
December 15, 2010
Tensions between the Muslim population in Europe and the dominant European society have risen to the point that riots and protests have resulted motivated by the resentment of the other party. To intensify these tensions, a ban on the burqa, a form of religious expression for Muslim women, has been discussed or put into effect in many European countries. It is concluded that this ban is a form of oppression and subjugation of the Muslim population and functions to serve the interests of government officials and the dominant European society by attempting to protect national identity, blunt fundamentalism, and alienate the Muslim population to maintain their subjugation. Compromises and negotiations between the two varying cultures seem almost impossible and solutions will not be met unless there is greater initiative to stop what is truly causing such ideas of hate and racism towards the Muslim population, specifically negative portrayals of Muslims in the media.
Banning the Burqa in Europe:
European Society’s Attempt to Prohibit Islamic Religious Expression Due to fear of losing national identity and rising fundamentalism, concern for human rights and security, and distrust and miscommunication between two extremely varying cultures, there has been conflict and debate amongst the dominant European society and the Muslim society in Europe over the right of Muslim women to wear the burqa, “a loose garment (usually with veiled holes for the eyes) worn by Muslim women especially in India and Pakistan,” in public places (WordNet, n.d.). This debate has stirred controversy and raised tensions amongst these varying cultures and has caused the emergence of the argument, Is banning the burqa an attempt to protect the human rights and dignity of Muslim women in Europe and to strengthen security by ensuring people are completely identifiable? or Is banning the burqa an attempt to prohibit Islamic religious expression in Europe due to such expression being a threat to European national identity, to cause further discrimination and subjugation of the Muslim population in Europe, and to blunt the rise of fundamentalism?. From evidence provided in this paper, it’s concluded that the legislation being discussed or put in place to ban the burqa in countries of Europe is an attempt to protect national identity and to further subjugate and discriminate against the Muslim population with the disguise of trying to protect Muslim women’s human rights. Also, it is evident that there is miscommunication between these two cultures and this causes further conflict and action taken without proper thought and consideration. After the attacks of 9/11, Muslims have been greatly degraded in European society. Fear of terrorism and rising fundamentalism has plagued most European cultures since the attacks. The wearing of the burqa causes discomfort to the dominant European society because it is perceived to be linked with Islamic fundamentalism and this is largely due to images in the media that portray Muslims in a negative light and give the impression that all Muslims are extremists. This has caused alienation of the Muslim population and has caused discrimination, unequal access to jobs, and continual police harassment for the Muslim population. To further intensify this issue, changing demographics and “Islamization” in Europe have resulted in a greater clash between the two cultures. There is a rapidly growing Muslim population in Europe or “Islamization” of Europe and an ageing dominant population that has been experiencing low birth rates. “Today Muslims constitute the majority of immigrants in most western European countries, including Belgium, France, Germany, and the Netherlands. They constitute the largest single...