(The original Finnish version was published in the newspaper Turun Sanomat on 4 December 2015 under the title ”I am against the ban on burqa” and in the issue 12/2015 of the political publication Perussuomalainen under the title ”Why am I against the ban on burqa?”)
In November I read in the news that the Estonian Ministry of Justice is preparing a bill for banning burqa and niqab in public places, governmental offices, schools and hospitals. The Estonian Ministry of Justice justifies this ban by claiming that hiding one’s face in public places is ”alien to Estonian culture” (Verkkouutiset on 27 November 2015).
I must give credit to the Estonian politicians for being proactive – they are doing something before the number of Muslim immigrants grows large.
In Europe, at least Belgium and France have banned the wearing of face-covering veils in public places. In Belgium this decision was justified with national security. In France the wearing of burqa or niqab has been found incompatible with secular society and those clothes are seen as tools for oppressing the women.
Some people wish that Finland would also ban the wearing of burqa and niqab. In 2013 MP Vesa-Matti Saarakkala (the Finns Party) wrote a bill about banning burqas and niqabs in public places under penalty of payment. Most MPs of the Finns Party signed the bill.
Although I am critical towards Islamic immigration, I am against this kind of a ban. I will now explain why.
In Iran there is a rule that forces women to cover their hair and the back of the neck in public places. Women obey this rule with reluctance and in fear of penalty. Many Iranian women take off their scarf right after reaching home or a friend’s place. Although Iran has created a compulsion instead of a ban, I see a similarity: Legislators can affect how people dress and how they look, but not so much how people think and what kind of values and attitudes they have.
A piece of clothing is just lifeless matter. It cannot be evil. However, a piece of clothing may represent something which we find incompatible with our society. If we do not wish that people wear burqa in Finland, then burqa clearly represents a phenomenon or way of thinking which we do not want in our homeland. When this is the case, we must focus on the causes rather than the effects. Banning a piece of clothing is like sweeping dust under the carpet. ”Out of sight, out of mind” is a method that does not solve problems.