France Bans The Burqa

France has passed legislation that bans the wearing of face coverings in public. This falls into line with legislation about entering banks while wearing motorcycle helmets but of course it is far more than a mere public safety measure designed to make it difficult for bank robbers to operate. It is at the very heart of social issues that are tearing Europe apart in many places as more and more Muslim migrants pour in for a better life.

I guess one could argue it is a case of reap what you sow. For centuries European countries colonized third world countries and many of them were Muslim. Now the pendulum is swinging back the other way. Some reports claim in a few decades they will outnumber ethnic Europeans and I don’t doubt that is possible. Some say the same about Australia and point to birth rates far in excess of our own. Of course the situation is somewhat different here because we are a nation of migrants, our own indigenous population is only 2-3% of the total number of Australians.

I have to admit I find the sight of a woman in black from head to toe with just her (usually lovely brown) eyes showing somewhat confronting. It isn’t our culture and it is not something we Aussies (especially from Anglo origins) are used to. A poll on Yahoo as I write has 88% of respondents voting in favour of a similar ban of the burqa here in Australia. Recently a bank was robbed by someone wearing a burqa to disguise themselves. It had to happen sooner or later I guess but I confess I am not concerned about a crime wave of black clad Muslim women taking our banks to their knees.

The same must be said about those who cry ‘terrorist!’ whenever this debate is aired. While it is true that at the moment most terrorists seem to be Muslim, not all Muslims are terrorists. There are  over a billion of them in the world and the total number of terrorists would be well under a million and probably, worldwide, in the low hundreds of thousands. That means the odds are your Muslim neighbours are as anti-terrorist as you are. Unless you live in a capital city the odds of having Muslim neighbours are pretty slim also, so why the panic, the angst and the negativity? Fear. Fear which is brought about by ignorance. Knowledge dispels fear and action dispels fear so take action and read up on Islam and the histories of some of these peoples, from the Pashtu and Pathan to the Bedouin and Tuareg and closer to home our neighbours the Malay peoples.

But getting back to the burqa. I see it as a symbol of medieval thinking that has no place in modern Australian society. It is not religious, it is regional. It is a cultural affectation only a few of our Australian Muslims follow. In France they say less than 2000 out of 5-6 million Muslims wear the burqa. Yet it is so completely in contrast to our culture the few who are around tend to be in the same areas and give the wrong impression that they are ‘taking over’. It is a very clear demonstration of being different and humankind has forever used visual differences to discriminate between friend and foe.

While it is a process that has helped us survive over the generations, it is no longer as relevant as it once was. In olden times if someone lobbed up on your front door step and dressed and spoke differently to you, especially if they looked physically different, you could be pretty sure they weren’t there to borrow a cup of sugar. So being able to discriminate by how people looked was a valuable survival mechanism, at the very least it made you wary of strangers and put you on your guard. We still feel that way today yet society has moved on.

Not being a Muslim I find it difficult to argue with the logic that if you go to all the trouble and expense to move across the world to a new culture and community then it is up to you to assimilate into that community. Of course you still want to cling to the things you are comfortable with and have known all your life but you have to let some things go and embrace new ones. Otherwise why are you here? I am sure many migrants aren’t here to be Australian, they are here to live a better life and plan to return home in triumph one day. No worries, sport, but while you’re here, do the right thing, OK?

I will reiterate. I don’t like to see burqa clad women on our streets, it is not something I am familiar with or believe is healthy for our society. But that society is a pretty tolerant one and while too often this tolerance seems one sided, it is what makes us so attractive to others to migrate here. I wonder at the attitude and mentality of the women who allow and some even staunchly support the habit. For it is a habit as much as any nun’s (pardon the pun) and it is not part of Islam as such. I wonder what the husband thinks of our women and if, like that Pakistani doctor did some years ago, actually encourage his sons to treat Australian women with complete contempt and rape them. Mind you, that man’s wife did not wear the burqa as she came from a different cultural group despite being Muslim. In fairness to those who do have their wives burqa-up I would say they would follow the Koran more closely and thus not commit such a heinous crime. The incidences of ‘anti-white’ rape by Middle Eastern Muslim males in this country are conducted by men from families where the burqa is not worn.  The prevalence of the crimes versus the few who follow the burqa habit clearly point to other Muslims committing these crimes.

I do know that decent Muslims are as angry at such outrages as any in our society. There are far more decent Australians of the Islamic faith here than bad ones. Our own, home grown criminals far out number the total number of Muslims in the country. This is not about religion or Islam, it is about choice. These people choose to follow their old customs in their new land. We can ban these customs but that only makes them criminals if they continue to choose to follow their old ways. Surely it would be far better if we could present them with reasons to choose a less confrontational look, reasons not to wear the burqa?

My wife says it would be less confronting if they chose another colour, black really does make them look sinister. More so with the ones who choose to wear black gloves. I know it is silly but I can’t help humming the tune to ‘The Addams Family” whenever there is one in line next to me at ALDI.

They’re creepy and they’re kooky,
Mysterious and spooky,
They’re all together ooky,
The Addams Family. “

Having said that, I recently stepped in and told a couple of yobs to leave one lady alone. They were jeering and cat calling as she walked to her car with her child and shopping. That is not on as far as this Aussie is concerned, firstly we don’t harass people for being ‘different’ and secondly she is a woman and with her child; she’s hardly in a position to sort the two mongrels out. They wouldn’t say boo if her husband had been with her.  The pair gave me a look that told me all I needed to know – bullies and cowards – before they skulked off hurling racial invective at the woman and a few other epithets at me. Yeah right, whatever. I wished the lady ‘Salaam Aleikum’ and she replied “Aleikum Salaam’ and then thanked me in as broad an Australian accent as you will ever hear. You see, you never know who is behind the veil, but then that is part of the argument.

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