Criticize the Burka, but Don’t Ban It

Aug. 10 2018

The former British foreign secretary Boris Johnson recently found himself censured by members of his own party for a newspaper column he wrote opposing Denmark’s decision to outlaw the burka, in which, however, he also stated that the garment—which covers the face entirely except for the eyes—is “oppressive” and that “it is absolutely ridiculous that people should choose to go around looking like letterboxes.” Sohrab Ahmari comments:

[M]ore than most of the dullards who rise to the higher echelons in Europe, [Johnson] has his finger on the popular pulse. He knows that anxiety over the burka courses through the whole European body politic.

Few native Europeans dare voice it honestly. If a former top diplomat is raked over the intersectionality coals for doing so, imagine what would happen to Average Joe. But the anxiety is real enough. And it is legitimate, because the sight of the burka in the public square crystallizes the sense that European immigration and assimilation policy has gone horribly wrong. Concluding that this is so isn’t tantamount to hatred. Constantly bottling up anxiety, moreover, is no less unhealthy for a collective psyche than it is for the individual. . . .

I never got accustomed to the burka. But it was an encounter that I had no choice but to tolerate. I was born and raised in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Muslim veiling was thus not alien to me. Imagine, then, the discomfort of the plumber or electrician from London’s more blue-collar precincts. Now add to that cultural discomfort a prohibition against expressing any discomfort, enforced on pain of social ostracism and joblessness. It’s a recipe for populist backlash.

Does all this mean that I would support a blanket ban against the full-face veil? Probably not. As much as I fret about the incohesive society bred by the burka’s presence in Europe, I also worry about the Continent’s high-handed secular progressivism. I wouldn’t want to give state agents the right to regulate religious practices in Europe, because I’m sure that those agents would go out of their way to target faithful Jews and Christians, not least to shield themselves from the same charge of Islamophobia that they casually hurl at the likes of Johnson.

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More about: Boris Johnson, Denmark, European Islam, Politics & Current Affairs, Religious Freedom, United Kingdom

 

Hamas’s Plan to Take Over the West Bank

Dec. 17 2018

Last week, terrorists from the West Bank—at the apparent direction of Hamas—carried out multiple attacks that left at least three Israelis dead. These attacks follow on the heels of an Egypt-brokered cease-fire agreement between Israel and the Hamas government in Gaza, as part of which the terrorist group received millions of dollars from Qatar. Khaled Abu Toameh comments:

Hamas and its allies are openly encouraging the eruption of a new anti-Israel uprising in the West Bank; [furthermore], Hamas and its friends have been emboldened by the recent failure of the UN General Assembly to adopt a U.S.-sponsored resolution condemning Hamas and other Palestinian groups for firing rockets at Israel and inciting violence. . . .

Every dollar and every concession made to Hamas will only increase its appetite to . . . extend its control beyond the Gaza Strip. From Hamas’s point of view, its plan has won legitimacy from the UN and important players in the region such as Qatar and Egypt. So long as Hamas feels that it is marching in the right direction, we are likely to see an increase in armed attacks and other forms of violence in the West Bank.

Now that Hamas is getting what it wants in the Gaza Strip—millions of dollars and no war with Israel—it is seeking to shift its attention to the West Bank, all with the help of its friends in Tehran. This [policy] has a threefold goal: to undermine or overthrow Abbas’s Palestinian Authority, inflict heavy casualties on Israel, and thwart any peace plan brought forward by the U.S. administration. In other words, Hamas and Iran now have their sights set on the West Bank, and this is reason not only for Israel to worry, but for Abbas to worry as well.

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More about: Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Palestinian terror, Qatar, West Bank