Opinion and Editorial

Intolerance in secular Europe

Filed on November 19, 2006

THE Dutch have joined the growing and totally paranoid drive in Europe against all things Islamic. The Netherlands, once hailed as the most tolerant and liberal country in the continent, has become the first European state to impose a total ban on burqa or hijab and veil used by the millions of Muslim women in Europe and around the world.

The ban, coming as it does five days ahead of a general election in the country, leaves one in no doubt that the Dutch politicians are playing to the gallery hoping to win their hardline constituency.

The minister of immigration, Rita Verdonk, has justified the move "on public safety and security grounds". This concern for "public safety and security" would have you think the terrorists are widely using the Islamic burqa or veil to target the Netherlands. However, according to the Dutch Muslim community, the oldest and one of the most active in Europe, there are only 50 women in the Arab-Muslim community who use burqa or veil to cover their face.

So the explanation that the ban on burqa is in the interest of ‘public safety and security’ is nothing but bunkum. In fact, by resorting to such shortsighted shenanigans, countries like the Netherlands are only further alienating their religious and cultural minorities.

More to the point, moves like these coupled, with the ever widening war on terror, are driving young and unhappy Muslims into the welcoming arms of extremist groups such as Al Qaeda. Last week, Britain reported that its intelligence agencies had neutralised 30 ‘terror plots’ in last one year alone. But why should it be surprising when you have once liberal and multicultural societies such as Britain and France are doing everything to isolate and drive away their large Muslim minorities?

While Britain is punishing its Muslim women for choosing the veil, France has imposed a total ban on headscarf or hijab in its schools.

All this of course is done in the name of Europe’s hallowed traditions of secularism and liberalism. While nudity and all kinds of sexual perversions are hailed as freedom across the West, a lone woman in hijab or veil minding her own business is like a rag to a bull. If this is not hypocrisy, what is?

If Europe is keen to fully integrate its religious minorities making them a healthy and contributing part of its society, it would do well to accept them with all their religious and cultural distinctions and diversity. There is no other model of integration.

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