“Face covering in public sphere can be dangerous to national security”: Shiv Sena demands burqa ban
May 1, 2019
On Wednesday, the Shiv Sena, through its mouthpiece Saamana, demanded a ban on burqa. This was following the Sri Lankan government’s new order on the ban of burqa and all means of covering face in public a week after eight instances of suicide bombing blew the country.
The article was addressed to the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi who participated in an election rally at Ayodhya today. The Sena’s piece titled, “If the Ravan’s Lanka can ban, why can’t Ram’s Ayodhya” read as, “people wearing face masks or any other form of face covering in public sphere can be dangerous to national security.”
As India is going through the Lok Sabha Phase 3 polls in different states, unlike the usual anti-Muslim stand taken by the ruling party, today the BJP MP and national spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao opposed the demand made by the Shiv Sena. Eyeing the Muslim votes to BJP, Rao said, “there is no need to ban burqa in India.” Supporting Rao’s comments, the Union Minister Ramdas Athawale said, “Not all women who wear burqa are terrorists, if they are terrorists their burqa should be removed. It's a tradition and they have the right to wear it, there shouldn't be a ban on burqa in India.”
Making a departure from the views shared by the national level BJP leaders, 2008 Malegaon blast case accused and BJP candidate from Bhopal, Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur backed Shiv Sen’s demand. “Some decisions like these have to be taken for national interest. We have to follow the rules during checking at the airport” Thakur said.
Citing the name of the countries in the article that have banned the face veil in public, the Sena demanded for an immediate need to initiate this law in India. As mentioned in the constitution of India, the country is “secular”. Banning burqa wouldn’t uproot terrorism or safeguard national security. Moreover, what the Shiv Sena’s mouth piece implies is a populist view where Muslims are made to be seen as the terrorist in the country. Rather than imposing draconian rules on its citizens and their culture, the government should be competent enough to secure the lives of its citizens.
Burqa is an outer garment worn by Muslim women to cover their body and face as per their religious practice. According to the religious practice, whenever a woman steps out of her home, it is her responsibility to cover herself completely except the face and hands. In Iran, Afghanistan and other Arab countries it is mandatory for women to cover themselves before stepping out. However, they are facing a huge backlash from women citizens across the world.
Even though burqa banning has gained supporters across the world, as countries holding a secular constitution and upholding individual’s religious rights, the choice to wear burqa should be left on women.
Sri Lanka is one of the latest countries to issue a ban on the burqa(face veil) in public. Sri Lankan President, Maithripala Sirisena initiated this emergency law on its citizens a week after the suicide bombers claiming links to ISIS attacked eight churches and hotels, killing more than 250 people and injuring 500 people across the country on the eve of Easter.
France was the first European country to ban the burqa in public. The law was imposed in 2011 on its citizens during the term of the then President Nicolas Sarkozy. The law targeted the Muslim women settled in the country who wore the face covering veils according to their religious preaching. The law also received public support in 2010. Violating the law, women can be subjected fine up to 150 euros.
Following the 2011 law imposed by France, its neighbouring country Belgium passed a law banning the burqa in public unanimously. Breaking the law would impose a fine of up to 1378 euro or up to seven days in jail.
Turkey, a predominantly Muslim country has also banned the burqa in public since 2013 in state institutions in the country primarily.
Unlike the former countries, Netherlands approved a partial ban on the religious practice. Women are not allowed to cover their faces in schools, hospital and on public transport. Other countries including Italy, Spain, Chad, Cameroon, Niger, Congo- Brazzavile and Switzerland has also banned burqa in public sphere.
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