This interesting article throws in a twist that I hadn’t considered.
But this is where I find Nile’s reasoning a little curious. The governments of Europe are attacking the burqa ostensibly because they feel it is an affront to secular liberal values, most especially those to do with women’s rights. They claim that a woman wearing a burqa is not representative of the freedom of women to express themselves as they choose. The double-standards abound, of course: no-one seems to bother asking the woman under the burqa why she is wearing it. Or at least, it is assumed that such a woman does not have an opinion worth hearing, so oppressed by her husband and her culture is she.
It’s an appalling contravention of the allegedly fundamental liberal values of free speech and tolerance. And shows secular liberalism for what it is – a highly ideological agenda whose supposed neutrality is merely a ruse for the achievement of the aims of its proponents. It’s an old style playground bully, but it works by pretending to be the head prefect. The burqa is an easy target – the estimates are that maybe 1900 women wear one in all of France – but the message is clear: the liberal democratic state will not tolerate that which it deems to be ‘religious extremism’, even when it is as harmless as the wearing of a garment.
So why is Fred Nile attempting to ramp up secular feeling against a religious group in order to achieve his ends – which are to secure the Christian character of Australia? This is suicidal, it seems to me. By strengthening the secular hand against religious and cultural freedom of expression in this country, we are only making the possibility that the state may move against its Christian citizens more likely.
This is exactly what has happened in the United Kingdom. Various pieces of legislation which were introduced in order to restrict Islamic expressions of religious identity, have subsequently been used against Christians. For example: Pentecostal preacher Benny Hinn was recently banned from the UK because of a new law designed to keep extremist leaders – by which is meant Islamic extremists – out of the country. Now, I am no fan of Benny Hinn, don’t get me wrong. But a law that bans the likes of him from preaching in a country is simply a dumb law.
As is a law which bans the burqa.
So: who will join me in donning a burqa in the name of religious freedom?