Is Europe reverting to Religious Witch Hunting?
Filed Under: Opinion, World | Posted: 05/23/2010 at 12:14PM
Comments | Region: Belgium
Hardly a day goes by
without news about the restrictions that European countries have been
introducing on Muslim proponents, much of which appears to touch upon a sign of
visible expression of faith as is the case with the Burqa, a female full body veil
that can make a woman literally invisible. The Belgian government has now made
it unlawful for women to be veiled in public places. France, a leading light in
the secular democratic world, has prohibited the use of veils in public places.
The Swiss population in a majority vote has banned minarets; A mosque yes, but
no minarets may be built in Switzerland. And some politicians want to introduce
a general Burqa ban, though Swiss hotels, banks and other businesses that
profit from these customers prefer not to proscribe such dresses;
Understandably, considering their dependence on such customers.
Looking at the
practical aspects of being confronted with someone who is masked makes it
impossible to identify the person in question. Recently, a local flight in
India made a priority landing because a fully veiled passenger, who could not
be identified, refused to lift her veil for identification. Some countries have
implemented legislation prohibiting the use of masks in public places, this as
a form of protection, when identifying people by law enforcement agencies. Some
put up the argument that the woman has the right to decide whether she wants to
be veiled, others say that the veil is not a religious requirement and is the
right of the woman in deciding to wear one or not.
Today this appears to
have seriously cut into the freedom of religion enshrined in democratic
governments. We need to recall that women have been veiled for ages both for
religious and other secular reasons such as fashion or plain protection from the
We seem to be
attempting to tackle a problem in dealing with symptoms that have far reaching
implications in a secular world. In looking for a panacea for many of our
questions, we seek answers in the metaphysics of religious justification for
the present and future expectations. Our yearning for paradise has not
diminished and religion has been able to offer answers that science has yet been unable to do,
albeit answers that merely promise rewards with no proof.
Oil and water do not
mix and attempts to find commonality between common concepts of universal law
and religious tenets of right and wrong have been not successful. Every attempt
at a common civil code that is universal and acceptable has not been successful,
where religion is relegated to the private arena of one’s beliefs. This is like
asking someone to be a KKK member in private (if that is the person’s choice)
but at the same time swear allegiance to the US Constitution in public.
Politics cannot be yet bereft from religious faith and here lies the conundrum.
Without going into the discordant and disparate notes
that major monotheistic religions have evoked and the continuous attempts to
interpret these in varying contexts, it appears to be an impossible task to
reconcile these to come to a common and universal agreement. The deliberations
of many learned men and women have brought us no closer to what can be
perceived as common and universal understanding of what is acceptable. Are we
doomed to continue to perish at the religious battlefields that have torn man asunder,
or does the answer lie in a complete disavowal of religion?