It's times like this that make me proud to be an American. I know that regardless of what some ignorant people in America say, a Muslim woman's right to preserve her modesty will never be taken away in America. My most sincere duas (prayers) go out to all my Muslim sisters in Europe who are holding strong to their faith in the face of such oppression. Also note, that arguments for banning the niqab always go something along the lines of "...because women shouldn't have to be made subservient to men..." This, and similar arguments show a total lack of understanding of the religious and cultural traditions of the niqab. Has it never occurred to these people that maybe a woman would want to wear niqab, and by banning it, the state is actually hindering her freedoms as opposed to preserving them?
Taken from here.
By RAPHAEL MINDER
MADRID — In a significant escalation of Spain’s debate over how to handle radical Islam, the Senate on Wednesday narrowly and unexpectedly approved a motion to ban Muslim women from wearing in public the burqa or other garments that cover the whole body.
The vote, 131 to 129, was another setback for the Socialist government of Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, which had favored more-limited restrictions on Islamic clothing and has instead been pushing to curtail religious fundamentalism through better education.
The Spanish vote comes amid several national initiatives across Europe to restrict the spread of radical Islam and defend liberal values.
In Belgium, the lower house of Parliament has already approved a measure that, if unamended by the upper house, would make it a crime to wear in public “clothing that hides the face.”
France, which has the largest Muslim population in Europe, has also been inching toward such a ban on the burqa. The measure has the backing of President Nicolas Sarkozy, who recently condemned the garment as “a sign of subservience” rather than one of religion.
In Switzerland last year, a referendum banned the construction of minarets.
While national politicians may be urging a clampdown on the burqa, such moves are still expected to run into legal obstacles. In March, France’s top administrative body, the Council of State, warned the government that a full ban would be unconstitutional. A commission of the Council of Europe, the European institution dealing with human rights issues, also recently warned governments against imposing a complete ban that would violate women’s individual rights.
Before the Spanish Senate’s vote, some of the country’s local authorities had already moved to introduce restrictions on the burqa. The issue was especially heated in the region of Catalonia, where the debate over Islam and immigration has become entangled in early campaigning ahead of regional elections later this year. The pending elections may have proved crucial in the Wednesday vote, as senators from the CiU, a Catalan party, surprisingly switched their earlier stance to vote in favor of a burqa ban.
The motion adopted by the senators calls on Spain to outlaw “any usage, custom or discriminatory practice that limits the freedom of women.” It was drafted and led by politicians from the main center-right opposition People's Party.
Justifying the vote, one of the senators from the CiU, Montserrat Candini, said that “we cannot tolerate that nobody understands that we are not in favor of banning the burqa.”
The Senate’s position also came as a surprise because although Spain has become a major European entry point for Muslim migrants from North Africa, few of those immigrants wear either the burqa or the niqab, which does not cover the eyes. A similar argument has also been made by opponents of a burqa ban in countries like France, where only an estimated 2,000 women wear the burqa out of a Muslim population of about 5 million. France, however, already passed a law in 2004 to ban head scarves or any other “conspicuous” religious symbol from state schools in order to preserve their secularism.
The Spanish government is supposed to follow the Senate’s motion. However, given that Socialist senators opposed the ban, the governing party is likely to seek ways to circumvent the vote.
Anna Terrón, the secretary of state for immigration, said the Senate vote had “more to do with the election campaign in which the CiU is involved than with a real discussion” on the burqa.