Al-Saji on Burka Bans

Feminist philosopher Alia Al-Saji, in the New Statesman. Just one sample:

These misreadings of Muslim dress are more than misperceptions, since rational argument, counter examples and historic analyses fail to correct them. One grows weary of how often the debates around Muslim women’s “veiling” recommence, with a recalcitrance that repeatedly disregards previous arguments against banning the practice.

Philosophers of racism would call this recalcitrance an active ignorance, a disregard that creates or constitutes the racialised perceptions of “others.” What is more, the reinvention and rephrasing of bans on veiling are part of how anti-Muslim racism endures, taking on a different guise and hiding under the mantel of seemingly consensual social norms in a given society.

Whether it be secularism, transparency, integration, security, or ideals of freedom, justice, and gender equality, these normative frameworks are instrumentalised to justify the exclusion of Muslim women, and the differential treatment and domination of Muslims more generally.

Read the whole thing!

2 thoughts on “Al-Saji on Burka Bans

  1. It might also be that one does not disregard the arguments out of wilful ignorance, but because one does not find these arguments convincing. The article expresses exasperation that other members of the public discourse do not agree, but makes little to no effort to understand where these members might come from other than being the latest spawn in the line of racism and colonialism. Who is this article written for? I doubt it will convince many of its position that have not already sympathized with it.

    I see the article raising a few good points, for example, when it points out that just two years after the shooting in the Quebec mosque the focus appears on policing Muslim dresses. That being said, I live in a normative framework that is not compatible with actively lived religion (including Catholicism) and I want to see it win over more of society. Without denying that history of progress and secularization is partially intertwined with that of colonization, I end up being a proponent of abolishing all revealed religion. The article does not take such a position seriously, perhaps because it is a minority position which is often just superficially adopted to avoid accusations of racism. It does not try to seriously engage with a discursive opponent and instead resorts to reiterating old arguments of varying force.

    I oppose a veil ban, because it is a government intervention into dressing, but this article has hardly made it easier for me.

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