For the past 12 months, there has been a growing amount of islamophobia in Australia, from 'ban the burqa,' to the 'reclaim Australia' movement. The other day I saw the following post in my Facebook feed:
The following video addresses just some of the prejudice that is directed at muslim women who wear clothing such as niqabs, hijabs or burqas.
Traditional Islamic clothing is worn because of either cultural or religious reasons. As stated in the video, the way that religious texts, such as the Qu'ran, are interpreted change as societal values and expectations change. This may be a contributing factor as to why there is a greater pressure on muslim women to dress modestly in a traditional sense, than there is for muslim men.
The prejudice against burqas, niqabs, etc is a manifestation of xenophobia in Australia. It is not due to any real threat that women who wear burqas pose, or any acts of violence that have been committed by women wearing them. What a person is wearing does not make them any more likely to commit a crime. The clothing worn by the criminal is chosen in accordance with the crime they hope to commit- not the other way around.
The burqa is a long-standing symbol of women's oppression, because of the horrors that women who haven't worn them have been forced to endure, and because of the deep misogynistic oppression that led to women being forced to wear them in certain parts of the world. It is important to remember however, that the burqa is not the cause of disempowerment, although it can be a method. Women being forced to wear the burqa is a deeply obvious side-effect of misogyny and religious absolutism, just as prejudice against the burqa is a side-effect of misplaced fear, ignorance and xenophobia.
The burqa is not oppressive in itself, and arguments for 'banning the burqa' based upon this premise are in fact disempowering to women as they take rights away from those who would wear them of their own volition. Whenever someone is forced to wear a certain type of clothing against their will, it is not the clothing, but the oppressive forces behind the clothing, that are the problem; and this is what needs to be addressed. Banning the clothing does nothing to solve the oppression driving it, it only takes away the rights of those who would choose to wear it of their own accord.
I am not a religious person and there are many good reasons for that. This video is not about religion. It is about stopping persecution. It is about eliminating the ignorance that leads to muslim women being targets of violence because of their clothing. It is about how important it is to stop the the fear-mongering that leads to this persecution. It is about ensuring that people can go about their lives without having to live in fear.
Below I've attached just a few comments I found interesting that were left in the Facebook comments thread on the original image that was posted.
Many were unsupportive of the post: