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Has COVID-19 ruined the situation for banning the burqa in Europe?

In some French towns, as an instance, failure to pay your face and guard from COVID-19 can land you a $135 fine.

However, formally at least, you can also be fined up to $150 for covering your face in public areas when the covering is still a high heeled veil.

Other European nations have followed by introducing partial or total bans of their burqa, such as Denmark, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Latvia, and Norway.

But with many Europeans advised they have to wear face masks to fight the spread of COVID-19, some are emphasizing the obvious contradiction.

“What is the difference when you pay your face for spiritual reasons or when you pay your face to health reasons?” Stated Moana Genevey, sex policy officer in Equinet. “And when is it okay?”

The brand new’living together’
Similarly, the ECHR ruled that Belgium didn’t violate any right to freedom of faith or discrimination legislation since it was the right to enforce limitations to guarantee the principle of”living together”.

In the case, the breach of the idea of the “le Vivre ensemble” was characterized as”a refusal of fraternity, constituting the negation of touch with other people”.

“The discourse has fully shifted and individuals are requested to pay their faces to have the ability to live together in a democratic society,” explained Dr. Jone Elizondo Urrestarazu, policy, and legal officer in Equinet. “Living together does not mean what it used to, so perhaps it’s time to rethink the volatility of the debate.”

Geneva stated COVID has increased the problem: “Some girls were inquiring whether the ban could apply to them in the context of this pandemic. The question is: Can we return to normal later?”

COVID-19 and public security

Belgium is among those European nations were covering the face with a piece of fabric that is prohibited, but sporting a face mask is currently compulsory.

The so-called”burqa ban” was implemented in Belgium in 2011, prohibiting any face-covering clothes in people who could hide somebody’s identity.

One of the chief justifications was that”individuals in public spaces must be’recognizable’ and’recognizable’ on the grounds of public safety”. Exceptions are permitted for labor parties or regulations, but maybe not for health reasons.

But due to the health crisis, this public security principle appears to have been placed to one side.

“In the brief term, we may experience again in common criminality, since they move unrecognized wearing face masks,” said Professor Kenneth Lassen, an intelligence and security pro.

“To cancel the circumstance, municipalities are investing in CCTV cameras to track those sporting a face mask from the roads “

However, in the long run, there are worries the coronavirus pandemic has diminished the argument against prohibiting full-face veils.

“We are extremely likely to face a constitutional challenge because the present scenario sets a precedent for men and women that wish to wear any sort of face-covering in people,” added Prof Lassen.

However on the streets of Brussels, a few people today question the connection between the coronavirus pandemic along with the ban on other kinds of face-covering, for example, the burqa.

“I see why some might state that, but we’re speaking about two distinct amounts,” says Vanessa, a 21-year-old pupil. “sporting a mask currently has nothing to do with the simple fact that individuals can cover their faces with a burqa”.

Her buddy Victoria, 20, insists.

“It’s different, we’re having a world health crisis and face masks are for everyone’s health, it is not only about a person’s faith,” she explained.

Stephanie, a 40-year-old instructor, believes”a few individuals could find it disturbing, or perhaps frightening if they don’t observe a face”.

“Back in Tunisia I was feeling somewhat unsettled when I noticed girls wearing a burqa, as I could not see their attributes,” said Samia, a Brussels ex-pat.

“I had a feeling of guilt since perhaps they felt unsettled by the fact I did not wear a veil in any way.”

Samia does not believe the contrast between masks and full-face veils is completely legitimate, since”using a mask, so you are still able to observe the characteristics, and if the man or woman is male or female”.

“The [primary ] principle ought to be to not repress people’s rights [the] grounds of public safety,” she explained.

“European nations should figure out ways to minimize the safety problems without stigmatizing portion of the populace and stop them from wearing anything they need.”

“In the event, the burqa ban is simply justified on religious grounds, it’s a discriminatory law,” explained Genevey.

“And we can’t discount that this is something that’s impacting an intersectional group, that can be girls of a specific faith,” explained Dr. Elizondo.

“It is ironic how these steps were assumed to liberate and empower Muslim girls who opted to wear a niqab nevertheless it ended up restricting them,” explained Dr. Sanja Bilic, policy and operations director in the European Forum of Muslim ladies.

“Some girls are still going out and paying penalties. Others chose to stay home. Before the ban, they had been busy citizens, engaging in the life span of the community and they needed to quit doing this following the niqab ban has been executed”.

For Dr. Bilic, the matter isn’t the niqab or the hijab a se, but the simple fact that these bans”criminalize a parcel of clothes and no additional piece of clothing is criminalized in Europe. This is debatable and it contributes to Islamophobia, a gendered Islamophobia since it only aims Muslim girls”.

Some argue these girls are forced to wear a niqab or even a burqa with their communities or families. And that the choice to remain at home because they can’t put on a burqa is not theirs.

“There’s always a part of social pressure, even though not driven by faith” claims Dr. Bilic. “We’d need to interview every girl to be aware of their motives, but I feel that here in Europe when they were forced to wear a burqa or niqab, they possess the freedom and tools to look for help”.

“In the European context, no other type of girls, especially those coming out of the minority and non-Christian background, could be contested on their ability and capability to select yet Muslim women’s decisions are treated as questionable.”

Geneva asserts the burqa ban is the reverse of feminism: “Pretending to free girls by allowing them access to this public space is a basic contradiction.”