22 November 2006

The niqab and the freedom of religion

When is the State justified in interfering with a religious practice? Is there any logical basis for the notion of "freedom of religion"? Full essay.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yes, the Nethelands/Dutch have 1 million Muslims in their country, the murder in 2004 of filmmaker Theo van Gogh by a Muslim fundamentalist, the country has become polarized on racial and religious issues. The Govt has not banned the wearing of burgqas yet.
http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2006-11-17-dutch-burqas_x.htm -PLEASE READ
'In Holland, policies associated with the nationalist fringe in 2002 have been co-opted by the center: holding asylum-seekers in detention centers, more muscle for the police and intelligence services, and visa examinations that require would-be immigrants to watch videos of homosexuals kissing and of topless women on the beach. Everyone must learn to speak Dutch, and Muslim clerics must mind what they say in their Friday sermons for fear of deportation.'
That is the Dutch law for you. If the Nethelands ban the use of burgqas, it would be the 1st EU country to do so.
http://www.sullivan-county.com/id3/denmark.htm -PLEASE READ
7 million Muslims live in America.
The point is- there is no freedom of religion. That is just a phrase that govts throw around. Religion is just an EXCUSE for countries to go to war. Like the Vatican's power of control over the world's Roman Catholics. Italians are not thrilled to have a German as their pope. Look at China?- Vatican-appointed Roman Catholic Bishop Zhang Bairen, who was jailed in China for 24 years for his loyalty to the Pope, has died. He was 90 years old. China's RCs are an underground group. Will China accept RCs? And will we ever see a Chinese pope? I don't have the answers. Again, religion is the stumbling block.
http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/242458/1/.html -CNA/PLEASE READ
Jordan's King Abdullah makes diplomatic trips to America. Abdullah's dead father was King Hussein. The present King of Jordan has to be very cautious, politically. His father, Hussein had lost one wife in a helicopter crash, n Hussein, himself, avoided an assasination. Look at Saudi Arabia, they sell oil to America.
Using the brief summary above, it is clear that freedom of religion feeds off n on the political slant of the various world leaders.
To go with the flow of politics,now?- It is not good to be a Muslim in white countries. To wear burgqas is making a 'religious statement', n asking for trouble. I am often asked: "Would I board a US plane, if there were a group of Arab men boarding?- 'No... or any other plane for that matter.' What does that make me?- a survivor, and a realist. I have nothing against religion, I do not believe in religion. If I were in Singapore politics, I would become 'a Christian'.- it is user-friendly to America. If China ruled?- I would become 'a Buddhist'. There is no freedom for anything. Same reasons why rich gays are Republicans? They get a tax break.
The bottom line is:
"it is not good to be a Muslim now."

Philip said...

The funny part of the whole issue is how the same muslims who spare no chance of bullying the religious minorities in their own countries (e.g the whole of middle east, africa, asia) speak so glowingly of human rights and the right to pracise religion (wearing hijab etc) when they come to the US, UK, Aus, other parts of europe etc.

Double standards eh ???

Gary said...

Freedom from religion is far more important than freedom of religion.

Anonymous said...

The BBC documentary 'The Root of All Evils?' sums up quite cogently the argument that religion is entirely divisive and largely detrimental to the progression of societies. The same argument is also reflected in The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, who is also the presenter/producer of the documentary. To highight a comment from Dawkins which agrees with the author's entry: why is religion given the special cloud of immunity and is accorded such special regard when it interferes with social order? Under normal circumstances, many of the atrocities applied in the name of religion would not be tolerated. On the contrary, any other person, or even the government would have been accused and tried for discrimination if the same acts were carried out by them. - Tan See Bee.

YCK said...

"The result is not healthy, for without engagement there can never be any resolution or synthesis."

This is an interesting comment. For religious, ethnic or other reasons, a particular group may really want ensure its identity apart from the others. With the correct scial engineering, it is possible to somewhat dilute ethnic loyalities as I percieve to be the case in Singapore. But I do not know that the same has been attempted with religion.

My guess is that you are right that religion is probably the most divisive and probably unmanageable factor. Yet adherents are increasingly on the guard against syncretism, abandoning fundamentals, apostasy, agnosticism, atheism etc. which are seen as threats to their identity. What amount of reasoning could penetrate the self-protection?

Anonymous said...

I would like to further add this to my comment dated 22 November, 2006 05:36.
In America, the constitution clearly states a separation of church and state, yet we have President George Bush who sees himself as the man who had to carry out the bible's work n 'The Bible and Judeo-Christian values have played a major role in shaping the state of the mind of President George W. Bush and Laura, as well as their positive gut feeling toward Israel.'
http://www.internationalwallofprayer.org/A-036-President-George-W-Bush-The-Bible-And-Israel-Ynet.html -PLEASE READ
Going to war with Iraq, based on WMD lies, that we know now? Is it 'Christian' to send young men n women to war? Death toll now is 2867. wounded is 21077 american soldiers.
'Last month, one US survey estimated that some 655,000 Iraqis might still be alive but for the US-led invasion of 2003.'-
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/6172660.stm - PLEASE READ
Let's look at Iraq? The only man that could control the country, was Saddam Hussein. He could handle the Sunnis, the Shite's n the Kurds. The Kurds are the ones with the oil.
Saddam himself,a Sunni was born in in Tikrit, which is part of the the Sunni Triangle.
Here is an analogy. Sunnis are like the Methodists, their churches are simple n bare, just like a sunni mosque. The Shite's are like the Catholics, everything is extravagant. All 3 groups are Muslims.
When they finally hang Saddam Hussein, and u READ it here on YAWNING BREAD,first... there is going to be a huge uprising with the Sunnis who have surrounded the American soldiers n the Shite Iraqi Musilims in Bagdad's Green Zone. That is when we are going to see 'a Vietnam evac'. Americans will be clinging onto helicopters to get out of Iraq.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/11/05/AR2006110500135.html?nav=hcmodule - PREASE READ!/Washington Post
All this in the name Democracy, of Religion n Oil. Religion is the excuse for man to control the minds of others,to covert land,to go to wars,and an excuse for man to condemn others who have alternative lifestyles.
Now think of Singapore's future political scenerio, and Malaysia. When Indonesia has those forest fires, who gets all the haze? Singapore.

Anonymous said...

Your caveat on the use of "legitimate, compelling public interests" as reasoning to restrict individual liberties is very telling.

Personally for me if I had to judge whether an action is indeed against public interest, I would use a test that I summed as:

"if one's action does not deprive others of his/her liberaties than restriction on the action is clearly unwarrented".

So let's take the case of whether hurting someone's feeling constitute a proscribed action. To me the measure is whether the hurt cause has deprived the subject to loose his/her liberaties. If a person's liberaties are lost because of that hurt than it is wrong. If no liberaties are lost than not. Of course things may not be back and white per se so the next step is to scale the extend of liberaties lost. Simple.

However, in Singapore and in particular some religion, there is a tendency to categorise actions into good and evil. Case in point, the issue of causing hurt. To me causing hurt per se is neither good nor bad. It could be that in causing hurt people learn and better themselves. So that is a good thing. If the insult to a religious icon cause hurt but help better understanding of the religion, than in my book that is a good thing.

manbeer said...

I think no one -ism or -ology should have a monopoly on truth (though scientism has the best claim). What we should fear more than "freedom of religion" is dogmatism including liberal dogmatism.
We should also remember that religion does not have a monopoly on violence, also as purveyors of war. In the 20th Century the 3 "Godless" ideologies and ideologues of Nazism (Hitler), Communism (Stalin) and Maoism managed to surpass the kill count that religion had accomplished at any one time.
On a final note the "niqab debate" should have never been elevated to a discussion beyond women’s fashion. It has become another unnecessary symbol of Islamic xenophobia clouding and preventing an imperative debate on how Western society and Islam can coexist peacefully. And from personal experience, women (if they have the choice) will probably do the opposite of whatever fashion a man will impose on them.
To the anonymous "realist", refusing to board a US plane, which has a group of Arabs, is also a symptom of xenophobia. And its no different than a Christian zealot refusing to accept a homosexual.
To "Yawning Bread", kudos to you in embracing debate and rationality while taking a hatchet to those OB markers!

Anonymous said...

Double standards eh ???

Indeed, it is double standards, I agree very much with what Philip wrote. (22 Nov 10:33)

Today, I walked past a stall operated by a Chinese. There were some food items with an addition sign that says "Prepared by Muslim family". Lots of Chinese and other races bought them.

It strikes me that I've never seen any stall run by a Malay which sells food with a sign "Prepared by non-Muslim family"... (Sigh.)

If only they are as accomodating as the rest of us...

Robert L

YCK said...

Hi Robert L,

I think I know what you mean by double standards, but you picked a rather awkward example. Well I suppose they are just acting in accordance to their understanding of the Islamic dietary law. If it is non-negotiable, we cannot really blame them right?

How do you compare them with people who choose to live by vegan or vegetarian lifestyle and their insistance on living by their conviction to a compassionate way of life, healthy living or other non-religious reasons? I find it rather admirable.

Think about this saying "And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?" (Matthew 7:3). How many people live by it?

I suppose it does not help that some people have a more exclusivistic understanding of their religions.

Teck Soon said...

I think I should have the right to publicly criticise or mock certain religious practices that I feel are silly. But this is basically illegal in Singapore. It seems that only in America can citizens criticise, mock, and curse other religions and their practitioners. But in spite of all this cursing from the uncensored hate groups (yes, hate groups are legal, particularly in the US) directed at each other, how often do you ever hear of religious hatred or strife inside the US? They all have the freedom to personally own semi-automatic guns and assault weapons, so the potential is there for holy wars, yet there are none. I would like to hypothesize that westerners, particularly Americans, are much less sensitive to direct verbal or public criticism than Singaporeans. They would publicly defend their positions or ignore criticism when subject to hatred or mockery, whereas in Singapore the one who is criticised would prefer to have the critic shut up and stay quiet, going to such extreme steps as calling the police or suing for defamation to shut them up. Offense is so easy to cause in Singapore, in this place where everyone is afraid of losing face, that real debate cannot occur. "Losing face" is an unfortunate inheritance from traditional value culture that prevents Singaporean society from developing. Meaningful debates cannot occur when no one wants to risk losing. It's better to stay quiet, don't comment on the government, don't write anything, don't get in trouble, just work and earn money for your parents.

LKY, a traditional-values man who closely guards his own face, once commented that CSJ was not a "gentleman". This is important because it demonstrates that in Singapore, it is not ideas that count. In Singapore, "gentlemen" can speak like "gentlemen" but behave like thugs. In religion, it is also not ideas that count. At least not in a society where ideas cannot be openly debated or criticised.

I wonder if a study could be carried out where one could compare the performance of the "face-saving" cultures and the non face-saving cultures in some sort of measurable way, and control for all other factors. (I once opined that the Thai king's immunity from criticism played a role in the destabilisation of their government.) I suspect that Singapore's cultural heritage is dragging it down, exacerbating religious disharmony.

liyanat said...

The niqab is all but one of the many restrictions Islam poses on its Muslims. Unfortunately I am labelled as a Muslim myself. The problem within the Muslim world is manifold, right to the point that they ask about day to day life to muftis and imams who are actually themselves unqualified to make any social, economic and political judgements. They are by and large uneducated, exclusivist and ignorant (or probably just biased to keep their interests safe). For example, the sermon made by Hilal is an example of medieval thinking posed within the modern world. IN addition to that there are several other important arguments that have been codified within sharia without the agreement of all the ummah community. And I propose that some mazhabs are completely ignorant of the scientific machinations of the woman's body, they are outdated and they need to be renewed but nobody has done anything about this. I'm not saying Muslim communities are bad, on the contrary despite their fire-breathing comments Muslims on the whole are actually (oddly...nice) good people (check on the experiences of ex-soldiers who have served in Iran, Iraq and they will tell you the same. The only problem is that they are a misguided lot but what is the world without some variety?