As much as I admire much of Western Europe’s cool stance toward the Iraq War and their keenly global and socially-aware outlook on affairs, one thing they don’t understand is freedom of speech and religion. Cities and countries throughout Europe are legislating bans or significant restrictions on the Muslim custom of wearing burqas, a woman’s garment that covers nearly every inch of her body, including her face (news article here). In a country – the Netherlands – where I can legally smoke dope and hire a prostitute, a woman is not allowed to cover herself in obedience to her religion’s teachings? What’s wrong with this picture?
I’m no fan of the burqa or of the conservative reading of Islam that calls for such practices, but I’m less a fan of governments that cannot allow its people to dress, pray or practice faith as they wish. It is in many of these same countries that hate crimes against Jews are on the rise. Hmmm . . . anger toward the Jews, laws restricting the Muslims . . . this sounds like the worst of Martin Luther’s 16th century vitriol. I’d hope that in 500 years our European brethren have learned a thing or two about honoring minority peoples in their midst.
3 thoughts on “Europe doesn’t get it”
In my recent travels, I’ve noticed that the population of the areas of my childhood is changing from lily white to various shades of tan and brown. I find this delightful; my perspective is due to being in a mixed race family. I know that this is somewhat jarring to many older whites who don’t have a hateful bone in their bodies, but they aren’t used to differences.
It must be even more jarring, perhaps frightening, to old Europeans, who aren’t used to the melting pot. The attitude is, hey, you can be here, but become like us.
The US will see more of this stress in the future.
We’ve seen just the very beginnings of this in the states as well. I recall a case a few years ago (in Florida, I think). I think the question was if a Muslim woman could wear a burqa for her driver’s license photo. I remember it getting a lot of press, but don’t recall how that turned out.
Anyway, Europe is usually ahead of the curve on these issues simply due to geography. It will bein teresting to see how we deal with it here. We see how we treat immigrants (legal and otherwise) from predominantly Christian nations…I can’t imagine what it will be like when the quesiton is over Islam.
Interesting article on the mix and clash of cultures in Europe.
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