Anti-Muslim Sentiment Shows signs of Expansion World Wide
Burning of the Quran
Following September 11, combined with the controversy surrounding the construction of an Islamic Center near ground zero, it is not surprising that sentiments are volatile in many areas of the world as well as in our nation. As the public debate on whether a Muslim community center should be built blocks away from the New York ground-zero area, an anti-Muslim sentiment has swelled nationally and internationally. A Florida pastor intended to burn the Quran, while France and other countries considered prohibiting Muslim women from using head-covered veils, as reported by The New York Times.
Florida pastor Terry Jones announced on September 8, 2010 his then-ongoing plan to burn, on the anniversary of the September-11 attacks, the Quran, which is the Muslim holy book, according to The Washington Post. His motive: to protest against the construction of a Muslim Center in New York City as well as Islam as a whole.
His plans rapidly raised national attention—guiding President Obama to publicly encourage Jones to restrain from burning the Quran, and even prompting Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to personally call Jones in a last-minute effort to halt his plans, as reported by CBS News.
This controversy took a rapid turn when, on September 10, 2010, Jones made public his decision to not burn the Quran during his “Burn a Quran Day,” as quoted from a banner hung in front of his (The Associated Press).
Jones explained that his sole purpose with his plan to burn the Quran was to expose to the public the dangerous elements of Islam, as reported by The Washington Post. Jones added that his mission was accomplished, and that his decision to stop the burning of the Quran came when those planning to build the Islamic Community Center near Ground Zero agreed to meet and discuss this plan with the Pastor.
Yet, imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the Imam of the Islamic center, said that they have not agreed to relocate the Muslim center, and that the burning of Quran would have seriously strengthened the anti-Muslim hatred already felt in the United States, as reported by The Washington Post.
It remains to be seen whether the Muslim center will actually be built near the Ground Zero area.
France, other countries consider banning Muslim veils
France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy has come under global media attention after he introduced in France’s parliament a bill that will ban the use of veils that
cover the face of Muslim women in France, as reported by The Washington Post.
The bill was approved on July 14, 2010 in France’s National Assembly, and it was approved in the country’s senate on September 14, 2010, as reported by BBC News. The ban will come into effect in six months, if constitutional judges do not overturn the legislation.
President Sarkozy has argued that such ban is necessary to diminish identity fraud, and to oppose a custom that oppresses women’s freedom, according to The Washington Post.
Across the globe, other countries have also supported potential legislations that would prohibit the use of veils, chadors, iqabs, and burkas by women.
Although the United Kingdom has not passed any prohibition on the public use of veils, the UK Independence Party has called for a complete ban on the use of full face covering veils because they are a symbol of a divided Britain, as reported by the BBC News. Prime Minister Blair also publicly expressed his support for such a ban.
After a 2007 directive, UK schools are allowed to determine their own dress code. This decision fuelled public debate, when a British principal fired an assistant teacher who refused to take her veil off, as reported by The Washington Post.
In Germany, each state has the jurisdiction to decide whether to ban the use of veils in each state’s school system. Although in 2003 Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court ruled in favor of a teacher who desired to wear her veil to school, at least four German states have banned school teachers from using veils. In the state of Hesse, all civil service workers are prohibited from using a veil, according to the Weekly Standard, an independent magazine.
The Belgium lower house of parliament approved on April 29, 2010, a bill that will rule as a criminal offense covering the face with a veil, as reported by Reuters. The upper house of the parliament is expected to pass the bill without major objections, but a potential election in Belgium could hamper the prospects of the bill to become law.
Some Belgium districts prosecute people who cover their faces, as supported by old local laws intended to stop people from masking their faces during carnivals and festivities, according to BBC news.
Although up to two-thirds of Turkish women cover their heads, the Turkish government prohibits the use of headscarves in public spaces and official buildings. The ban is rooted on the desire to halt Muslim-influenced practices into the country’s social fabric. In 2008, the Turkey government eased the ban to allow university students to wear headscarves loosely, as reported by BBC News. However, the use of veils covering the neck or the entire face is still prohibited.
Tunisia, a country in Northern Africa, had been known as one of the strongest opponents of the use of the Hijab, which include the traditional practice of covering the head and also the most modern Muslim styles of dressing. However, on October 2007, a Tunisia court ruled unconstitutional a 1986 ban that gave unlimited authority to police officers to dismantle the use of the Hijab in government offices, schools, universities and public spaces, according to Islam Online news.
The Dutch government considered, but abandoned, a 2006 proposal to ban the use of all forms covering the face—from veils to helmets with visors. Nearly 900,000 Muslims reside in Netherlands, but only around 300 are thought to wear the burka, as reported by BBC News.
The proposal was labeled as undermining the country’s civil rights, but the government expressed desires of establishing a legislation that will ban the use of veils in schools and the state department, according to BBC News.