About ten years ago, France banned the wearing of all religious symbols in schools. Two years ago, France banned clothing that hides the face. Last year, a few French beaches banned the wearing of burkinas (burqa swimsuits). The people in charge of the beaches said wearing burkinas was “improper.” France is making a statement.
What are burqas? They are the full-body veils. (See this guide to Muslim attire.)
Morocco has become part of the fray. It has banned making or selling burqas. It has not yet banned wearing them.
Muslim is the majority religion in Morocco. The country has long ties to France. There is a big Western influence. Experts say the ban on making or selling burqas is the country’s way of making a point. It does not want Muslim influence to go too far.
One Muslim advocate agrees. He said the ban would create tension and put pressure on Muslims in politics.
Most Moroccan women do not wear burqas. Women who wear this kind of attire live in more conservative Muslim countries. Countries such as Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Some say Morocco can defend the ban because “the need for security” is the foremost concern. No one knows what that means. Or what might happen to women wearing them.
A religious expert said that the ban is for security reasons. She went on. There is no evidence that burqas are a part of any threat. She said, “I believe that men and women should have the right to choose how to dress.”
Muslim clerics have not yet commented on the Moroccan ban.
These are the questions in Morocco, France and elsewhere. Is wearing the burqa a sign of religious freedom? Is banning the burqa a sign of liberation and safety for women? There is more than one answer to the questions.
It gets more confusing. A journalist said he was against banning the burqa “The burqa is not part of Morocco’s culture.”
Source: The New York Times January 11, 2017