America opposes ban on burqa, Europe supports it
An overwhelming number of people in European countries want a ban on the burqa, according to a recent survey. Interestingly, the survey, carried out by the Pew Global Attitudes Project, found that most Americans opposed such a ban.
In France, as many as 82 percent of the people surveyed sought a ban on the face-covering veil, while only 17 per cent disapproved of such a move. The French government has faced furious protests after it recently announced plans to legally ban such veils for security reasons. The government also feels that such veils oppress women.
French Muslims, who comprise 10 per cent of the population, have already warned about the repercussions of such a drastic step.
Image: A French woman who was fined for wearing a niqab while driving speaks to the media
Photographs: Stephane Mahe/Reuters
The survey took into account the opinions of over 4,000 people in five countries -- France, Spain, Britain, Germany and the United States.
After France, Germany vouched the strongest support for a ban on the burqa, with 71 per cent citizens speaking in favour of it.
Though the government has not enacted any law against the veil so far, it gives each state the freedom to change the local laws. Some German states have already prohibited their civil servants from wearing headscarves.
Image: Veiled women shop at a market in Berlin
Photographs: Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters
Recently, the United Kingdom Independence Party called for a ban on the burqa. UKIP leaders declared that the veils were a symbol of an 'increasingly divided Britain and they oppressed women'. The UKIP also termed it a potential security threat.
In 2006, prominent politician Jack Straw had kicked up a storm when he called the veil 'a visible statement of separation and of difference'. He also commented that the burqa affected the growth of better relations between communities. Faced with strong protests, Straw was later forced to apologise for his remarks.
But a majority of Britons, 62 per cent, expressed their support for a ban on the veil. At the same time, a considerable 32 per cent voiced their disapproval against it.
Image: Muslim women read a newspaper article in London
Photographs: Albert Gea/Reuters
The 1.5 million strong Muslim population in Spain mostly hails from north Africa, and the face-covering full veil is a rare sight in the country. But Barcelona, one of Spain's most cosmopolitan cities, recently banned burqas in public buildings such as markets and libraries.
Other major cities in the predominantly Catholic nation are also considering a similar step, citing security reasons. But political observers claim that this is merely a populist move that will alienate the Muslim immigrant population in Spain, which has contributed significantly to its economic growth.
The survey found that 37 per cent Spaniards were against a ban on the veil, but a majority of 59 per cent still supported it.
Image: Veiled women at a mall in Barcelona
Photographs: Phil Noble/Reuters
America is considered by many Islamic extremists as their enemy number one. Ironically, United States is much more tolerant to the idea of the veil than its European counterparts.
A whopping 65 per cent of the respondents said that they opposed a ban on the burqa, while only 28 per cent supported it.
According to unofficial estimates, United States currently has nearly 70 lakh Muslims.
Image: A beach-goer passes a veiled woman
Photographs: Anton Meres/Reuters