Today the ban on Islamic veils and other facial coverings took affect in France, and two protesters were arrested. Earlier this year Yasmin Alibbai-Brown argued that state intervention is necessary, that full-face veils are a form are apartheid and that choice was not the only consideration. Banning it is protecting women.
I don’t like the burqa or the niqab. While some women cover their faces from genuine free choice, many feel that they have no other option. Covering up in such an extreme way is degrading, and speaks of a culture of sexism. But much as I oppose the burqa, I don’t support a ban.
I don’t support a UK ban against such veils for a number of reasons. Firstly, I’m opposed to banning anything more than that which absolutely must be banned. (Murder and rape should be banned. Clothing, not so important.) Secondly, as much as I dislike it, some women do choose the veil freely. Thirdly, I don’t think banning the veil will help women, or bring communities together; instead of freeing women from their fabric tents, the ban will confine veiled women to their homes.
The French ban is not designed to protect women, but the state itself. In this case liberté and égalité only work for members of the male fraternité.