Why are liberals against the Muslim ban

Pro & Contra - Two editors in a duel: Does a liberal democracy have to ban the burqa - or does it fall back into the Middle Ages?

Two editors in a duel: Does a liberal democracy have to ban the burqa - or does it fall back into the Middle Ages?

On March 7, Switzerland will vote on the “Yes to the ban on veiling” initiative. This requires that nobody is allowed to cover his face in public. Our editorial team sees reasons for both a yes and a no: two opinion articles.

Yes to the initiative: "Full veiling is incompatible with a liberal democracy"

Patrik Müller, editor-in-chief of the CH Media central editorial office

How do you explain full veil to children? The question arose when I and my offspring met a Nikab wearer for the first time, in the wake of her husband. That was in the Ikea Spreitenbach. «Why is she doing this? Is this also available for men? " With all the educational efforts: It is almost impossible to explain the full concealment without becoming Islamophobic. The burqa and nikab are not so much an expression of Islam (the Koran does not prescribe them) than of its political, fundamentalist form - Islamism.

Full veiling cannot be explained because there is no justification for it in a free, enlightened, equal society. It stands for the opposite: for the oppression and the lack of rights of women, for the rule of men over the female body. The covering is a political symbol, a declaration of war on liberal values.

Now one could object: An open society is characterized by tolerance, it does not need "dress codes". This argument falls short. It would be a misunderstood liberalism to say: a society allows everything. No, it has to defend freedoms, it has to protect the weaker - here women - and that requires rules. The philosopher Karl Popper founded the "paradox of tolerance". He wrote: «Unrestrained tolerance necessarily leads to the disappearance of tolerance. Because if we extend unrestricted tolerance to the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed and tolerance with them. "

That is exactly the aim of the Islamists. They hate other religions, atheists and non-heterosexual people, they abhor the freedom of art and thought. Their assassins target satirical magazines and concerts. As in France, they behead a teacher who was discussing Mohammed cartoons. Islamist violence also erupted in Morges and Lugano. The scene is growing, as the federal extremism report shows.

Of course, banning the burqa will not automatically solve these problems. But unlike the senseless ban on minarets, this is not just about symbolism. A ban on veiling strengthens the vast majority of well-integrated Muslims and weakens those who do harm on their behalf: fundamentalists and fanatics. Your argument that women wear the veil voluntarily is absurd. Because the Sharia sees women as minors; they cannot cover themselves up in a "self-determined" way.

It is not a question of whether there are 20 or 2000 women wearing burqa. Also not about whether the initiative comes from the SVP or not. It is also irrelevant whether the prohibition belongs in the constitution or in the law. It's about setting limits to a violent ideology that is gaining influence. Burqa and nikab are her symbols of victory. It is incompatible with our liberal democracy.

No to the initiative: "This template brings our understanding of law back to the Middle Ages"

Pascal Hollenstein, Journalistic Director CH Media

The debate on the “burqa initiative” is largely hypocritical. It starts with the pirouettes of the initiators for the purpose of their referendum. You have to create clarity here. The motivation for the initiators was neither to strengthen women's rights. They are still concerned with a general regulation of disguises. The initiative aims at a particularly radical variety of Islam and promises to put a stop to the alleged Islamization of our society. That is the point. All other arguments are fog petards.

The other side also argues past the topic. That the burqa ban does not belong in the constitution is such a sideline. Popular initiatives always revise the constitution. In Switzerland, the day-to-day business of direct democracy is inevitably concentrated in it. Legal systematists may be disturbed by this in their aesthetic sense. So far we have been able to live with it quite well.

One thing is clear: Islamic full veils are an expression of a disgusting image of women. The fact that they are perceived as irritating has nothing to do with a lack of sensitivity towards other cultures. The world would undoubtedly be a better place if no woman had to wear this textile.

What is decisive, however, is what has to be done. It is obscene that the international community accepts it more or less without complaint when states like Saudi Arabia force women to wear the full veil. However, a Swiss burqa ban does not lessen this scandal. And not a single one of these women will be released from their predicament. Anyone in this country who forces a woman to be fully veiled is committing a criminal offense.

The law is to be applied with the utmost rigor. Nobody should have to wear a burqa here. With the initiative, however, the will is now also to be penalized. But why should the state forbid this to happen to a woman who freely subjects herself to full veil? Does the piece of material pose an imminent danger that justifies an encroachment on your rights to freedom?

The answer is no. The argument often put forward by some Islamic scholars does not change this, that full veiling is - correctly interpreted - not prescribed in Islam, and its prohibition therefore does not interfere with religious freedom. Might be. Just: We don't live in the Middle Ages. In contrast to princes and kings, the modern state rightly does not assume any religious authority. He does not have to judge the correct interpretation of the Bible or the Koran. And he certainly does not have to dictate to his subjects what they have to believe in their innermost being - even if it is stupid, misogynistic stuff.

It is quite possible that Switzerland will include dress codes in its constitution on March 7th. It would be the day when the Swiss Confederation experiences a relapse into the Middle Ages in its understanding of the law. A one-time, meaningless industrial accident of democracy? One has to hope so. Better if it didn't happen at all.