The Islamic face veil is a barrier to integration in the West.
What is integration? When one is seen part and parcel of a society; contributing happily and in harmony; this could be a general brief definition of what it means to integrate in the western environment. But this is all. There is no deep particular leading interpretation or understand of integrating, "...it must be emphasised that there is no single agreed understanding of the term ‘integration'. Meanings vary from country to country, change over time, and depend on the interests, values and perspectives of the people concerned". So who gets to define or decide when one has particularly integrated, or how much one has integrated? Every western society is not the same. Are there particular boxes to tick saying one must be ‘like this and eligible for that' to integrate or be accepted in a society?
The West is becoming more and more multicultural. Multicultural by definition means difference and to accept difference, difference so long as it harms/offends no one. And to say a woman cannot integrate because of a simple cloth she wears over her face is in contradiction to what multiculturalism stands for. What must be understood is multiculturalism does not necessarily mean for an individual to like or approve the differences, but it means to at least respect them. It is the freedom to be different, simple. In western countries, we the public have to bare up with a lot of differences. For example, one may not like the way a punk dresses or hippies dress etc, but at least respect the freedom and diversity, so isn't it the same with the face veil?
If a woman chooses to wear the veil, it is her right. If she feels she can make a positive impact in society while practicing her it, then what is there to stop her? The people who see it as a barrier? Isn't it time to realise that faults may lie on the other side of the fence? That the people who see it as a barrier may be ignorant or unaware of why Muslim women practice the veil, and how they contribute to society?
I will build on these points more as the discussion goes further.
 Castles S, Korac M, Vasta E, Vertovec S. Integration: Mapping the field. Report of a Project carried out by the University of Oxford. 2002. Home Office online report 28/03. - http://bit.ly...
I'd like to thank saj.ahmed for proposing this important topic. I look forward to a thought-provoking debate.
Burden of Proof
By Islamic face veil, I assume Con is referring to the Islamic burqa, which covers the head, face, and body. My opponent, as Con, has the burden to show that the burqa is not a barrier to the integration of Muslim culture in the West. I will argue the burqa is a barrier to integration in the West.
No one can be a multiculturalist in any interesting or coherent sense. Multiculturalists will always resist the force of the cultures he/she tolerates, and stop short of approving other cultures when those cultures generate acts that are offensive to the canons of civilized decency. As Steven C. Rockefeller states, "important as respect for diversity is in multicultural democratic societies, ethnic identity is not the foundation of recognition of equal value and the related idea of equal rights."
A multiculturalist may enjoy Native American religious ceremonies, but will turn away when those ceromonies include animal sacrifice. Or a multiculturalist may respect other religions, but draw the line when adherents of a religion engage in polygamy.
At some point, even the strongest multiculturalist and liberal must be intolerant of another culture's core values. Wearing the burqa is an act offensive to Western culture and should therefore not be allowed.
What does the Islamic veil symbolize? Patriarchy
The problem with the burqa is that it is one of the greatest symbols ever invented of female humiliation and and oppression. Nazila Fathi, a reporter who has been instrumental in providing the West a perspective on Tehran, wrote the following about the burqa: “If you want to wear it, go back to where you’re from.” According to Fathi, the burqa exists as a tool for men to control their wives.
The purpose and effect of the Islamic veil makes it truly unacceptable even by the West's lax standards of what is and is not acceptable. According to the rationalizations provided by Muslim men, women must wear the burqa because, if they don't, men will rape women who show their face in public. Of course, this is absolutely false, a rationalization used by Muslim men to justify repressing women's freedom by claiming they are protecting women. The history demonstratees the true purposes and effect of veiling.
In her book Feminism in Islam, Margot Badran provides an extensive history of gender issues in Islam, delving into the history of hijab and the burqa and confirming its status as a symbol of patriarchal control over women. She provides examples that clarify what the burqa symbolizes: the complete exclusion and withdrawal from public life. Women are deprived of all rights. The history of Muslim attacks on the Islamic veil go as far back as 1899, when a Muslim judge, Qasim Amin, claimed veiling was the central political problem facing Egypt at the time. According to Amin, veiling had deprived women of the legitimate rights afforded to them by Islam. Because of veiling, women were not allowed to get an education, nor to have any role in political life. In fact, they were not allowed to have any role at all in public life.
Con argues that it is the right of woman to wear the veil. Con has provided no evidence that woman have this right. Given the fact that it symbolizes female seclusion from the public sphere, and from engaging in political life, Con's claim that the veil gives woman the power to have a "positive impact in society" is completely unfoudned. It contradicts the history and meaning of the Islamic veil, which Con completely ignores.
Con claims that those who see the veil as a barrier are "ignorant or unaware of why Muslim women practice the veil." That is, of course, not true. The veil clearly represents the patriarchal oppression of women, which in the West, is not tolerated, not even by the strongest multiculturalists.
Reading through Pro’s argument, I believe it is very clear that he/she has a very out-dated cliché view on the Muslim face veil. He has given very bold statements about how the veil is a sign of oppression and restricts women to get education and social life etc. These are incorrect analyses and very basic level argumentation, which do not hold any substance until given at least some demonstration of examples.
In regards Pro’s comment: women are not allowed education because of veiling. I would like Pro to make it clear what he thinks/understands the reasons for this are today in the west. This would be helpful before we go any further on the matter.
5. “Con argues that it is the right of woman to wear the veil. Con has provided no evidence that woman have this right.”
This is an illogical statement. I ask Pro, if a woman freely and consciously chooses to wear the veil. What right does he have then to demand evidence from that woman that it is her right to wear what she likes, so long as it’s not harming/offending anyone?
6. “The veil clearly represents the patriarchal oppression of women.”
I hope I have understood all of Pro’s arguments properly, if I have fallen short of understanding any I trust he will correct me.
I look forward to Pro’s next reply, I trust it will be an interesting one which will help us dig deeper into this topic.
b) Why do I have to prove Western culture is superior for my argument to work? I thought I was arguing that the Islamic veil is a barrier to integration in the West. As such, I took Western culture as a starting point for discussion. We are not debating whether Western culture is superior to other cultures, only whether Western culture is compatible with the Islamic face veil.
That said, what Muslim academics have said is irrelevant to this debate. Since the debate is framed from the perspective of the West, we should be asking what Western academics have to say. For that, see: Margot Badran’s Feminism in Islam, or the works of countless other Western academics, including Judith Tucker, opponents of face veiling.
5. “Con argues that it is the right of woman to wear the veil. Con has provided no evidence that woman have this right.”
Con argues: “What right does he have then to demand evidence from that woman that it is her right to wear what she likes, so long as it’s not harming/offending anyone?” The key here is Con’s second clause, “so long as it’s not harming/offending anyone.” It offends Western culture precisely because it symbolizes female seclusion and patriarchal tyranny over women. This is offensive to the majority of civilized Westerners. The women who wear it many not think they are harming themselves, but according to the West, they are.
Con’s patriarchal arguments are not subtle, trying to conceal themselves under a façade of giving women the right to choose. Women’s right to voluntarily wear the face veil doesn’t change what the face veil represents nor does it change the fact that the face veil is harmful and offensive.
6. “The veil clearly represents the patriarchal oppression of women.”
The Islamic face veil represents female seclusion from public life. It is incompatible with Western culture, and therefore, it clearly poses a barrier to integration in the West. The resolution is affirmed.
I thank Pro for his recent reply. I shall be addressing his main points of argumentation from the last round.
Throughout this debate, Pro has been persistent in mentioning what the face veil has represented in history and that this is why it is offensive to western society - this seems to be the major weight of his arguments. While I don't doubt whether the veil may or may not have been applied properly for the right reasons within the times of history, I don't agree it is a fair argument to prove that it is a barrier. Throughout history we can see people have taken good things and misapplied them for their own benefit. We have seen it happen to Islam and Christianity etc. There is no doubt that extremists have taken in the name of Islam and hijacked it, but we don't ignore Islam. What we do is tackle the issue of extremism while still recognising the goodness of Islam. Also with the face veil, it is more ideal for a multicultural society to tackle the issue and reassure people of what it truly stands for in Islam, because for it to be a symbol of seclusion and tyranny is a misconception and false. By doing so, it shows we are being multicultural by the true essence if the meaning, we are seeing its values in Islam and understanding it, and we are attempting to drive away the misconceptions of it that have built up through history.
It is clearly wrong from Islamic rulings for anyone to use the veil for the purpose of oppressing. We can see in the Qur'an as it says "there is no compulsion in religion", which comprehensively means we cannot force any aspect of Islam on anybody, be it Islam in general or the veil etc. What Pro is referring to as oppression is the false misuse of the veil, which even Islam is against.
In round two, I wrote: ‘Also the majority of Muslim scholars do not advocate the face veil as compulsory but an optional. Some argue that the face veil is not even part of the minimum female hijab dress code. So those that wear the veil, the majority of them wear it even though they see it as optional, this it indicates free choice. Even if some Muslim women see it as compulsory, still it indicates free choice, because Islam does not see it fit to force anything upon anyone, be it compulsory acts or optional'. To which Pro's reply was "First, this does not indicate that those who wear it wear it by "free choice". Again Pro has carried on to make one sentenced arguments with no demonstration of examples to prove his points convincing. I ask Pro to explain; why doesn't it indicate free choice?
What Pro mentions, "We are not debating whether Western culture is superior to other cultures, only whether Western culture is compatible with the Islamic face veil". This I believe is not how we discuss about integration. People who speak for this particular motion, like Pro, tend to talk more of assimilation rather than integration. Assimilation is a totally different concept and surely not one to be accepted in what is now a democratic, multicultural society, the west. As Professor Tariq Modood from (University of Bristol) explains,"Assimilationis where the processes affecting the relationship between social groups are seen as one-way, and where the desired outcome for society as a whole is seen as involving least change in the ways of doing things of the majority of the country and its institutional policies". Pro's question of compatibility between the face veil and western culture is more along the lines of assimilation.
So what is the process of integration? It is a "two-way process: it requires adaptation on the part of the newcomer but also by the host society". This means all groups of the society have the burden to understand and recognising each others values and ethics, and so the question of ‘compatibility' would not be valid. What integration does not mean; is a person should be able to fit in every nook and cranny of public life. There are many women in the west today who do not want to become a Politian, who do not want become a doctor, regardless of whether they veil or not, but they are still integrated.
So far, the only argument Pro has made particularly apparent for the face veil to be a barrier to integration, is what it historically symbolized. And I believe I have dealt with that point sufficiently. I have shown that using the veil for the purposes of oppressing is not by the least supported by Islam.
I hope I have understood all of Pro's arguments properly, if I have fallen short of understanding any I trust he will correct me.
I look forward to Pro's next reply, and I look to build on a positive case to why the veil is not a barrier to integration by the coming rounds.
 Castles S, Korac M, Vasta E, Vertovec S. Integration: Mapping the field. Report of a Project carried out by the University of Oxford. 2002. Home Office online report 28/03. -http://bit.ly......
The face veil is neither acceptable within Islam or in the West. The fact that Islamic countries accept the face veil is a political fact, NOT A RELIGIOUS ONE. Con has provided no sources to suggest the face veil itself does not represent patriarchal tyranny and female oppression.
A quick look at Western Constitutional democracies will clearly show that patriarchy is not accepted, politically and culturally. The American legal system has explicitly rejected patriarchal laws; the Supreme Court has ruled many times against patriarchy, even at the cost of religious freedom. For example, in the case against the Mormons, the Court ruled that polygamy was not acceptable because it was patriarchal, regardless of whether the Mormon religion requires its followers to be polygamous if they can.
The issues in this debate are simple. The face veil represents patriarchal oppression. Whether Islam itself gives women the option of wearing the face veil or not is irrelevant. The relevant issue is what the face veil represents, not the question of whether Islam coerces women to wear it or not.
I thank Pro for his reply.
“The face veil is neither acceptable within Islam or in the West”, a startling statement by Pro from the last round. Throughout this debate it is clear that Pro has been consistent in providing single sentenced arguments to support his side of the motion, without any sense of valid justification. Pro has now chosen to tackle the issue of permissibility of the face veil Islam on a single basis of a Muslim judge. I ask that Pro needs to provide better evidence/examples preferably from authoritative Islamic sources to prove such a case.
The face veil is acceptable in Islam, we know this simply by understanding that the wives of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) practiced it. One only has to look at these cases of why the Prophet’s wives took the veil, to understand that it is not meant to oppress or belittle any female. I have shown that forcing anything upon anyone is not Islamic by the least, even the veil.
What Pro is not prepared to accept is that his views on the veil are misconceptions. Such understandings of his are no where to be found in authoritative Islamic sources. So he relates to history, and I believe I have dealt with that argument in round 3 to which Pro has given no underlining refutation. I suggested that ‘it is more ideal for a multicultural society to tackle the issue and reassure people of what the face veil truly stands for in Islam, because for it to be a symbol of seclusion and tyranny is a misconception and false. By doing so, it shows we are being multicultural by the true essence if the meaning, we are seeing its values in Islam and understanding it, and we are attempting to drive away the misconceptions of it that have built up through history’.
Pro stated: “Whether Islam itself gives women the option of wearing the face veil or not is irrelevant”. Why it is irrelevant? I argue it is completely relevant to the motion, because the veil is a religious position, and it shows that it is up to the woman whether she wants to veil or not. The veil is not harming anyone and it is not intended to offend anyone.
I have raised points in the previous round showing the veil is not a barrier to integration in the west, of which Pro has completely ignored. Maybe he is willing to answer them in this particular round or the next.
I hope I have understood all of Pro's arguments and I look forward to Pro's next reply.
FourTrouble forfeited this round.
It is obvious that Pro has put his effort into this debate, and real life has taken a main concern for him to forfeit the previous round. Nevertheless I thank him for a rigorous discussion. With that been said, I shall make a last few closing comments on our debate.
For a number of reasons, Pro has been unsuccessful in holding his case for the motion, some of which I have listed below:
1. Pro has been consistent in providing single lined arguments with no demonstration of examples or reasoning to prove his points convincing.
For these reasons, I still hold to my comments from earlier rounds, “I believe it is very clear Pro has an out-dated cliché view on the Muslim face veil”, and that he is not prepared to except his views regarding the veil are more of misconceptions.
Once again I thank my opponent for a lively and engaging debate, and I hope maybe there are other topics we can have a discussion on. I also thank our readers.
Thank you and I would like to finish with this: when asked about her hijab by journalists and how it is not proportionate with her level of intellect and education, she replied: “Man in the early times was almost naked, and as his intellect evolved he started wearing clothes. What I am today and what I’m wearing represents the highest level of thought and civilization that man has achieved, and is not regressive. It’s the removal of clothes again that is regressive back to ancient times.” – Noble Laureate from Yemen, Tawakul Karman
Con makes a single argument, stating: "I believe it is very clear Pro has an out-dated clich� view on the Muslim face veil." Does Con provide any source for this claim? The Qu'ran. What does the Qu'ran say? Absolutely nothing about the face veil, because the Qu'ran does not require it to be worn.
That is the key to this debate. The "authoritative Islamic sources" that Con repeatedly refers to is the Qu'ran. But the Qu'ran does not argue in favor of the face veil! It explicitly says that we should not compel anyone to do anything. The Qu'ran in essence gives people freedom from having to wear the face veil. Con admits this point.
Take a look at Con's final quote from Tawakul Karman: "Man in the early times was almost naked, and as his intellect evolved he started wearing clothes. What I am today and what I'm wearing represents the highest level of thought and civilization that man has achieved, and is not regressive. It's the removal of clothes again that is regressive back to ancient times."
Exactly! Clothes represent something. That was what I argued. I am not saying we should be naked. I'm saying that what you wear matters. If someone wears a Nazi uniform, and is a neo-Nazi, they will not be able to integrate in Western society. Notice that the majority of Western nations outlaw Nazism of any kind. Holocaust denial is outlawed as well.
I have argued what the face veil represents: female seclusion and patriarchal tyranny. Con has not adequately challenged the historical and academic sources I have provided.
I want to make sure readers understand what Con has argued. Con has NOT argued that the face veil does not represent female seclusion. Con has argued that Islam does not require that women wear the face veil. So what? That is not at issue. What Islam permits or does not permit is irrelevant; what is relevant is what the face veil ITSELF represents historically, culturally, and socially. Asking if Islam permits it is irrelevant, what is relevant is whether the West would permit it. Given the negative Western view for patriarchal tyranny, it is clear the face veil poses a problem for anyone attempting to integrate in the West, as the West would not accept the face veil as a component of its culture. It simply would not happen, given what the veil represents. That's all there is to say.
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