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Saturday, 16 January 2010

Pearson is right on Burqas

In anthropological terms, our facial recognition of each other is at the heart of our social structure. We don't sniff each others' urine marks, or listen for each others' calls. Our ability to recognise facial features in crowded public places, to stop and greet, to recognise and to acknowledge, is at the very fundament of social cohesion and social structure. So important is this, and so anthropologically ingrained, that even when we know there is no cogent threat, talking to someone with black sunglasses or a mirrored visor brings out involuntary threat reactions, and we must overcome urges driving us to fight or flee.

Most importantly, as a society and culture, both men and women are full members of our society and this right is indivisible. Even women such as nuns, whose uniform signals unambiguously that they are sexually unavailable, leave their faces exposed to signal that at the same time they are fellow members of the tribe.

Pearson's proposals in the Times are sensible. He is proposing to outlaw covering the face in all public buildings and places, and the right of owners and operators of private buildings to insist on uncovered faces. Motorbike helmets with visors, hoodies with scarves wound around the face, Niqabs, burkas and and all other non-transparent disguises would have to be removed before the wearer entered a post office, government or council office, NHS surgery or hospital, school, railway station, bus, tube, MP's or councillor's surgery. Airport and port operators, pub landlords, restaurant proprietors, retailers, supermarkets would have the right to refuse to serve, and to remove from the premises, anyone so covered.

Libertarians may regard as anathema a law that regulates how people look or dress, but I would suggest that in this they are mistaken; an exposed face, clear from brow to chin and from ear to ear, is so fundamental to the way in which we as the cultural subset of a species interact that flouting it is to defile us as if pissing in public were a 'faith matter'.

The Niqab and Burqa are not articles of Moslem faith, but in many cases a provocation, a deliberate attempt to defile our society. They disguise the signs of beatings and violence and offer an insult to all women. They promote not only terrorism but fraud and crime. They threaten us on our own streets and public places.

Pearson is right. They must go.


Newmania said...

Were there Nuns who covered their faces , or brides perhaps no-one would object. Similiarly faith schools , now under attack , are usually ok but not Islamic ones.

You are certainly right about face recognition which is indeed an interesting hunman adaptation but that is not really the issue here it ?

Anonymous said...


Actually, it is the issue. When I go into a bank, post office or shop wearing my motorcycle helmet, the assumption is that I'm a robber. On more than one occasion, innocent motorcyclists have been pounced upon by zealous policemen.

On the other hand, if I go into the aforementioned bank, post office or shop while wearing a niqab (which, in practical terms, is identical to the balaclavs favoured by generations of terrorists and bankrobbers), no-one will raise an eyebrow - primarily because they fear the lynch mob accusation of racism that will automatically follow.

I make the point, which I find rather amusing, that Bosnia-Herzegovina has seen a rash of robberies lately in which the perpetrators wear traditional Islamic dress. Apart from the fact that they cannot be identified while wearing these clothes, there is also the fact that the police will not interfere with anyone wearing Islamic dress. Robbers don Islamic garb, rob a bank and then walk calmly out into the streets where, by virtue of their clothes, they are untouchable to the authorities.

For the record, your point about nuns and brides makes very little sense. Nuns have not worn face-obscuring veils within living memory of anyone currently alive on this planet. Brides, similarly, are not in the habit of wandering around in public wearing face-obscuring materials (and, if you care to think before you speak, you would realise that brides rarely wear veils of anything but the most diaphanous material in any case).

Long story short: you're a cretin.

hatfield girl said...

No, the real issue here is flaunting, which seems at odds with the pretend purpose of burkas, which ostensibly is covering. What is being flaunted is a cultural and value set. We all do that with our dress and ornament, to some extent.

And give offence as well as receive approbation. I would rather dress as I choose and reserve every right to laugh at, despise, envy, copy, and draw complex conclusions about others from the way they appear in public. We've been through this before with turbans and bus-driving motorbike riders carrying daggers. It all dies down if we let it ride.

Obligatory school uniform is much more offensive than burka-wearing.

JuliaM said...

"Pearson's proposals in the Times are sensible. He is proposing to outlaw covering the face in all public buildings and places, and the right of owners and operators of private buildings to insist on uncovered faces. "

A decent, and, may I say, thoroughly British compromise...

JuliaM said...

"Libertarians may regard as anathema a law that regulates how people look or dress..."

I can't speak for libertarians, as I'm not one. But I can't see that they'd have any problems with this at all.

Gareth said...

"Even women such as nuns, whose uniform signals unambiguously that they are sexually unavailable ..."

I must watch different filums to you.

"Pearson's proposals in the Times are sensible. He is proposing to outlaw covering the face in all public buildings and places, and the right of owners and operators of private buildings to insist on uncovered faces."

Pearson appears to be calling for a ban on specific Islamic face coverings not a general ban. If his words are being taken out of context or very selectively reported he should make more effort to get his message across. I could agree with a general ban (along the same lines as cars having to be identifiable through their number plate, so should people by not having their faces covered) but not one trying to clamp down specifically on a small sector of society. Nor is there any need to dress it up as striking back at the oppression of Muslim women. Stick to matters of law and order and there can surely be no complaints.

A legal position for public buildings and services, and private property if the owner wished, of 'If your face is covered you will be refused entry' is a catch-all stance that wouldn't allow for the perception of Islam bashing.

Chris said...

In our culture only those doing something dishonourable and profoundly shameful cover their faces in public.

Cases in point: highwaymen, bank robbers, the PIRA, Jack Ketch, etc.

You don't need tp change the law when social pressure will do. "The management reserves the right not to serve..."

Mr Ecks said...

What people ask for on private property is their choice. Public areas--NO.

If people want to cover their face on the street it is up to them. The arrogance of the state is already beyond endurance.If people want to cover their face as part of their religion that is THEIR business. I say this as one who is very far from a fan of Islam.I don't give a monkeys about robberies and hoodies. Return the right of self defence including firearms and then the would be crims will get their just desserts instead of the ones served in jail.

The stuff about face recognition is irelevant.

Pearson is another jumped up tosser who needs a fist is his clearly exposed face.

Newmania said...

Cretin ? Thats a bit harsh , liekably ordinary I like to think.
Anon you mistake my intention , in a "likeably ordinary " way.
Mr. R`s post as you appear not to have noticed grounds its objections to the ,"Does my bomb look big in this ", burqa , in an appeall to suggestive , but ultimately weak Darwinian speculation.

I would ground my objection in its symbolic meaning which is a semiotic assault on the Nation`s culture. In other words Nuns , Brides and even Hoodies may present diffrent issues but that is NOT the problem with Burqas and it is uitterly dishonest to pretend it is
Furthermore by refusing to overtly defend the culture of this country you are blinking and blinking aint good with people like this

Newmania said...

.... You see how a Gareth is immediately able to unpick your case if you will not state it for what it is .

A Burqa 'says' something .It is saying things unacceptable in a liberal country.It shoukld be banned on that basis , the true one

Newmania said...

BTW R-I have just been reading back as I occasionally do and the standard is magnificent. Not only that but your style reads easily in large quantities ....

Some one should publish it

Raedwald said...

OK Newms - I'll put me hands up, guv; I included full-face bike helmets and scarved hoodies to sweeten the ethnic pill.

Sarcozy's reasons for wanting to ban the burqa are perhaps more honest; it's unGallic.

And thanks for the compliment - though I doubt Mrs Dale is listening ;-)

Sue said...

I'm in total agreement!

Mrs R said...

Good post, linked

Anonymous said...

The real reason for the burka of course is paternal uncertainty.

If you control your women so heavily that nobody else even sees them, you have the problem solved.

These women are victims of biology disguised as a religion.

Anonymous said...

Its the subjugation of women that I find grossly offensive.

I know some women say that it's their choice, but that would be tricky to qualify.

I'll draw the parallel with domestic violence. Wasn't the law change to make the decision to press charges the police's and not the women as in that situation werent always free to make an independant decision? How's the burqa any different?