Don't tell me what to wear

May 04, 2010

LONDON: This is with reference to Faria Syed’s article “Don’t tell me what to wear” (May 4). I don’t think the burqa is purely being banned because they “know better”. The point is, where a religio-cultural practice conflicts with a state’s domestic security concerns, surely the state has a right to intervene. Take the simple example of somebody walking into a bank donning a mask. Not only is this unnatural in society, it can be considered threatening as the person’s identity is concealed to the point of being unidentifiable.

For this reason, in many institutions and shops, wearing masks or sweatshirts with the hood over the head is also banned. It’s not just burqas, and I don’t see why they should be getting special allowance from this rule. Anything concealing one’s physical identity so extremely that they become unrecognisable is considered threatening in western society.

That must be respected. Inhabitants of that particular society deserve their freedom. Indeed a woman wishing to wear a burqa should be allowed to exercise her right, but only where it does not conflict so dearly with state and society. There are plenty of societies that are more accepting, and indeed welcoming, of the burqa.