On air: Is the Islamic world guilty of double standards?

Burqa ladies We had such an overwhelming response to yesterday’s programme on the burqa, and many of you have told us you’d like to continue the discussion, so that’s exactly what we’re going to do today. There were a few clear themes that emerged out of show – Maxine summed up the thoughts of quite a few of you…

When I visit Muslim countries I am careful to wear a long dress with long sleeves, and have a scarf in my pocket… I am NOT happy to have women dressed in Burqas in my country (Australia), they should show the same respect regarding dress as I do when I visit their country.

Annette in the UK sent us this text: Is it acceptable for me to walk around Mecca in a bikini? if the argument stands up the answer should be yes.

Nanci and Pancha made the point too… is there a double standard when Muslims in Western countries expect to be allowed to dress entirely as they choose, including wearing a burqa, but Westerners in Muslim countries aren’t able to dress entirely as they choose?

In countries like Iran or Saudi Arabia women exposing too much flesh could be arrested by the authorities. There aren’t rules about dressing in every Muslim country, but in most Middle East, Gulf and North African countries a woman dressing ‘immodestly’ would at best attract a lot of attention, and at worst be jeered or more.

Is President Sarkozy, in trying to ban the burqa, simply redressing the double standards expressed in the Muslim world over dress?

Should it be a case of ‘when in Rome, do (or dress) as the Romans do’? So Muslims in Western countries should wear Western dress, and Westerners in Muslims countries should wear Muslim dress? Or if you believe that people should be able to wear what they want, should that standard apply for Muslim countries as well as Western ones?

191 Responses to “On air: Is the Islamic world guilty of double standards?”

  1. 1 steve
    July 2, 2009 at 14:28

    We allow nuns to cover up, do we not have a double standard as well?

    • July 3, 2009 at 09:21

      Steve, nuns do not cover up their faces. Face is the means of identification. In today’s world when a person covers up one’s face in a public place it, quite rightly, raises suspicions and apprehension. As for modesty, no society is exempted from it. Everyone should dress up modestly, although some in the West abuse the freedom.

      Everyone has the freedom to live where one can practise one’s way of life without hindrance or causing complications. For the sake of peace and harmony one should have the wisdom to go and live in such a place and not be a nuisance where one’s way of life becomes a nuisance to the majority.

      The issue is NOT one of dress code or religious freedom, it is whether one can go in the public with one’s faced totally covered.

    • 3 Halima Brewer
      July 3, 2009 at 17:43

      not the face. Even nuns do not cover their faces. They can interact normally. Also we allow covering up, but it stops at covering the face. Women in burqas are not nuns. They are not necessarily women who have chosen a life of celibacy and dedication to religion. The burqa is meant for all women, and is a declaration that her very sex is a threat to men. A nun’s garments declare only that she is dedicated to God. (or the church)
      there is a difference.

  2. 4 Steve in Boston
    July 2, 2009 at 14:30

    It all depends how you look at it. The “when in Rome” way of looking things results in a Muslim double standard.

    However if you look at it from the perspective that the Muslims have adopted a policy of female modesty, then there is no double standard–they demand female modesty of their adherents no matter where in the world they reside. In fact, if Muslims adopted a policy of female modesty only when in Muslim countries but “anything goes” when elsewhere, then THAT would be a double standard.

    What I find more interesting is that the West is powerless to regulate the burqa without looking like hypocrites because its governments go around foolishly spouting absolutes like “freedom of speech,” “freedom of choice'” “freedom of this, that, and the other thing,” not considering that nothing in the world is absolute, and too many freedoms can come back to bite you in the gluteus maximus.

    Freedom exacts a steep price, and living with its consequences, such as burqas in the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, is just one example.

    • 5 Chrissie
      July 3, 2009 at 13:53

      If people who want the burqa migrate, why don’t they migrate to a Muslim country?
      Here in the Uk, structure and law has been built on the Judeo- Christian beliefs and we would not have the democracy we have otherwise.

      I find it offensive when Muslims become an ‘exception’ to this law or that law. If I moved to Dubai, I would dress accordingly and not complain. Muslims who come here for whatever reason should do the same.

      I have been in Muslim countries and have felt the right to be who I am is removed as I have to comply with their dress. Now they come here and shout about their human rights. Sorry, I wear what they wear in their conties, they can assimilate here.

      • 6 Maxine
        July 6, 2009 at 07:12

        Well put Chrissie, I agree. Also i don’t like the idea that because we “western” women show our hair and face, sometimes arms and legs when we dress then are immodest, or to put it their way “whores” .

      • 7 Mike
        July 7, 2009 at 14:03

        Well, to respond to the Dubai reference, I live in Dubai and women here dress in very short skirts and cleavage abounds. Drunkenness is rampant everywhere and everything but kissing in public and use of widely illegal substances, it is not much different than London.
        I do, however, agree from a personal standpoint that the burqa has no religious value other than keeping women, who have become conditioned and spoonfed into thinking that it is proper, in a subservient lifestyle.
        If they want to sweat under all that black, then so be it…but if a country has a ruling on the necessity of a visible face, that also should be abided by.
        I am from Canada originally and we have accommodated Sikhs, that require wearing a turban, in the police force because we don’t want to infringe on their religious rights because we have, for better or worse, adopted something called reasonable accommodation. When it isnt demanded of a visiting culture upon a new country, it works ok.
        However, on one side, it isnt our call to decide what religious rights we can green light or not but at the same time, if it isnt a religious necessity and it causes problems to a country, then it should be looked at. You can’t change a religious regulation but you can change a cultural regulation to a degree.

    • 8 Halima Brewer
      July 3, 2009 at 17:47

      the question of the burqa is freedom a woman has – but also a statement.
      Some statements should be banned. – racist and sexist ones for example. Of course there are grey areas as in everything, but the burqa is a declaration that men are inherently predators, have no control over themselves, indeed have no responsibility for themselves and that a woman’s whole being is defined by her availability or not as a breeder. That is truly offensive.

      • 9 Mike
        July 7, 2009 at 14:07


        Offensive to men for being generalized, wrongly, as perverts or offensive because women are seen as breeders by all of mankind?
        Women ARE breeders, that is why men and women exist….men are breeders also. Women should be respected regardless of how they choose to dress within reason of the law.

      • 10 Halima
        August 4, 2009 at 15:51

        It is offensive to men – men are not all predators, and most men are quite capable of controlling themselves. It is offensive to women because the statement is that the ONLY purpose of women is as a breeder or property of a man.
        The burqa says that of women but not of men. It takes the two to breed, but that is not the only thing we are. Respect should be given to both sexes. And that means not to be required to hide your face or your hair.

  3. 11 Glenn L
    July 2, 2009 at 14:36

    I lived in France some time and as a Canadian, wanted to be respectful their culture. While it’s a nice thought to “do what you want”, if there are severe social repurcusions, how can one ignore it? Respect is respect, anywhere in the world and just because we don’t agree, is no reason to be offensive, in my opinion.

  4. 12 robert
    July 2, 2009 at 14:45

    The when in Rome arguement is flawed.

    The standard in Islamic countries is that heads are covered.

    The standard in the west is having the freedom to wear what you want. If somebody wants to cover their heads, then that is their right.

  5. 13 John in Salem
    July 2, 2009 at 14:47

    If you visit a foreign country of your own free will and with knowledge of their customs you have no grounds for complaint.
    If you allow visitors to your country and believe that no one should be able to dictate a dress code for anyone you again have no grounds for complaint.

  6. July 2, 2009 at 14:58

    Hello all,

    Each culture has its ways of dealing with social issues. One of the biggest social issues is the maintenance of the family structure. This is the core to maintaining the moral and cultural identity of a group. In these strict Muslim cultures they use brute force and fear to maintain that women remain the primary example for the rearing of the children in order to pass these values on to the next generation.

    I do not agree that this is the healthiest or best way to ensure the values are passed on. However, in the west we take a completely opposite approach. Our culture that has removed all sense of consequences for violating our moral and cultural identifies. In a society where 50% of all marriages end in divorce, and more then 50% of all children experience growing up in split homes, we often wonder why we have so many social problems. Overweight, teen pregnancy, huge prison population, out of control welfare, financial irresponsibility, depression, school shooting, and most others can be traced back to children who have been affected by bad choices being made by a culture who don’t understand the consequences.

    So who is more right at their approach of preserving and passing on their values?

    • 15 Nicolas
      July 2, 2009 at 17:22

      I agree with your point, but dont think that blowing up yourself in order to kill and injure as many inocent people as possible, is passing on the right value either…

    • 17 Scott [M]
      July 2, 2009 at 17:59

      This argument is flimsy. You can refute it simply by asking why many Islamic countries are tumultuous at best. If you look around the world, Islamic nations appear to be no better then anywhere else, and by many reasonable standards: they are worse off. So what is this alleged strong family achieving? A better society? A better culture? Doesn’t seem like it. There is no inherent value in a strong family.

      • 18 Halima
        August 4, 2009 at 15:55

        Also, I am not sure that the problems we have are due to divorce – or that if there were not so much divorce there would be any fewer problems. I think there are a lot of problems that come with change, – any change, but nostalgia for “the old way” always conveniently leaves out the problem of that old way.

  7. July 2, 2009 at 15:13

    In Morocco, there are Muslim women who wear black clothes covering their whole bodies. They’re jokingly called ninjas.

    In the case of Morocco, foreign women; especially, westerners are free to dress as they like. They can look half-naked but not totally naked. They can even walk in the street with their male partners holding each other’s hands and kissing. They can walk in the streets ( sometimes very crowded) with bare arms and back.

    It’s true there are other Muslim countries where women face heavy restrictions concerning the way they should dress. But it’s wrong to generalise the assumption that all Muslim countries have drastic measures and women are forced to wear Muslim clothing, including scarves. It’s a matter of choice even for the locals.

  8. 20 Dan
    July 2, 2009 at 15:14

    I think the question should be “Does the Islamic world have ANY standards?”
    They want the world to conform to them in their countries but eschew the civilized world’s standards in their own countries.
    The Burka is a symbol of female oppression. If women are happy to comply in Islamic countries, that is their business, but in a civilized world Muslims have to comply with the social norms there.

    • 21 Sharafadeen A. (Sokoto, Nigeria)
      July 3, 2009 at 15:19

      bikini, mini-skirts, skinedtight trouser (pant trousers), semi nude dressing etc are symblos of female emancipation? What you called and sees as a freedom in your society is certainly not real islamic sence. There is no absolute freedom anywhere, IS EITHER YOU ARE ENSLAVED BY GOD OR YOU ARE ENSLAVED BY THE DEVIL (AND YOUR HUMAN DESIRE)

      • 22 Halima
        August 4, 2009 at 15:58

        Dan, yes – freedom to wear what we want IS emancipation. Freedom to make mistakes, too. nothing wrong with tight pants and miniskirts except that they are impractical and often uncomfortable. Do you think men are also enslaved this way?

    • 23 kuwaitmirage
      July 6, 2009 at 14:54

      Dan is a civilized world one where old women get mugged and children get burned with their mother’s boyfriends’ cigarettes? Or one where kids get locked in cupboards or starved to death perhaps?
      If so, well you keep your civilization and I’ll keep my oppression.

  9. 24 Ramesh, India
    July 2, 2009 at 15:15

    There is certainly a lot of difference between a non-muslim woman going to a muslim country and a muslim being the citizen of a western country. What Sarkozy is advocating is about themselves acting as those muslim countries. I may say it is the double standard of the west and not the muslim world, well, at least to a large extent!

  10. 25 Ermenegilda
    July 2, 2009 at 15:19

    What the real question is, If Islam is offended by an exposed female body and weastern cultre, then is the western culture offended by covering the female body and the teachings of Islam? Lets face it, the answer is Yes. Western Culture is offended by the values that are often associated with Islam. Western Culture thinks it controlling and backward, but Western Culture needs to realise that by behaving in that way, they too, are backward.

  11. 26 Gary Paudler
    July 2, 2009 at 15:21

    Though I’d be reluctant to attribute any trait to a monolithic “Islamic World”, there’s no double standard; the hard-liners are certain that their rules should apply to everybody everywhere – simple and consistent. In most places a Western woman will dress as she wishes (or as she’s told by marketers) and it’s a matter of personal choice. In Muslim society, a woman is not allowed to choose freely. Asking whether a double standard is being applied implies that a double standard is a negative thing, as it is, but that is minor compared to the many pernicious proscriptions and oppressions of any fundamentalist religion. It’s appropriate for any of us to be respectful of local cultures when we travel; we aren’t looking for predictable homogeneity. One would hope that all cultures would become respectful of individual freedoms for their citizens as well as visitors. All the good parts of Islam (Christianity, Judaisim, etc.) can thrive and be strengthened along with personal freedom and individual rights. Religion should not be a vehicle for oppression.

  12. 27 deryck/trinidad
    July 2, 2009 at 15:22

    Of course there are double standards because the principles of democracy that many muslims in the Middle East abhor is being used in Europe to promote their way of life.

    Like I tell people at home if you love your old country and place of origin before you migrated so much, you should go back and live in that place.



    • 28 Ramesh, India
      July 2, 2009 at 16:02

      Deryck, don’t you sound like people have to renounce all their roots, culture and beliefs if they want to migrate to another country? Even if yes, did the west take any pledge from those muslims that they wont make an issue out of Burkha when the muslims were welcomed to the west? Why Now???? What is the reason why Turkey was made to wait to get the membership of the european union? Why didn’t they apply same principle when allowing muslim immigrants into the western world?

      • 29 RightPaddock
        July 2, 2009 at 22:02

        A major reason that Turkey is not getting into the EU is that most EU citizens do not regard Turks as Europeans

        The Turks are from east of the Caspian Sea, they invaded and occupied Anatolia in the 13th Century. Turkish is an Altaic language, as are Japanese and Korean – using the Latin alphabet does not make it an Indo-European language.

    • 30 Ramesh, India
      July 2, 2009 at 16:07

      and Deryck, why all those westerners go to the middle eastern countries inspite of all those unbearable restrictions. Oil!! It seems oil is more powerful motivation than freedom!!

      • 31 RightPaddock
        July 2, 2009 at 22:07

        @Ramesh, India – but they rarely or can’t settle in those countries, most are guest workers, just like those from South and South East Asian countries, who probably would not be there either, were it not for the oil wealth.

      • 32 RightPaddock
        July 3, 2009 at 07:43

        Rameesh, India – I should have added that the Turks are from the same stock as the Murghals who colonised your country for 320 years prior to the Brits who could only manage to hang on the jewel for a mere 90 years.

    • 33 kuwaitmirage
      July 6, 2009 at 14:57

      I could similarly say to all foreigners working here……if the US, UK France and even Trinidad, is so good…..then go back there- but that would be naiive and xenophobic, wouldn’t it Deryck?

  13. July 2, 2009 at 15:25

    i would like to believe so. my thinking is that if you go to another man’s house – you obey his rules, you don’t impose yours. in fact i always find it bizarre when i read news about the uproar generated by the burqa case, i mean in most islamic countries (even in the islamic north of my country nigeria), you’d have to respect their customs and culture. the women that want to wear their burqa can do so in their countries. everybody says respect this culture and that, why can’t we respect the west’s culture…there’s a lot of double standard going on, and in the french case – although high handed, i think i’m beginning to understand the Right’s fears in europe…such fears and seeming lack of respect to European cultures and values by Muslim minorities (any minority in general) will only make the Right’s fears increase and in the long run valid. lets be considerate – everyone.

    Ayotunde Ayoko ~ Lagos, Nigeria

  14. 35 Ivan Mark Radhakrishnan
    July 2, 2009 at 15:25

    Is the Islamic world guilty of double standards? NO!

    It’s just there are far too many hypocrites among them making far too much noise. They worry about how we dress or don’t dress and then kill Women in their markets and Children in their Mosques!

    The Islamic world and dress has the same problem America has with the ‘N’ word.

    It is ok for some black Americans to scream and curse “n***** this” and “n***** that”. But God forbid if someone correctly uses the word ‘negro’ in a correct and non-derogatory context, they take offense and want to write the whole world off!

    Get real! It is not the Islamic world, it is their gigantic lunatic fringe that practices double standards and of course ……. only when it suits them!

  15. 36 annabelle
    July 2, 2009 at 15:40

    Islamic World? What does that even mean? Typical world have your say fudging. Do you mean the world of islam? the Middle East? All muslims everywhere? You mean the Middle east don’t you? Well say so then. Instead you use a no-meaning vague phrase like Islamic world…cos if you were more specific, then you’d betray the fact that you don’t know anything about ‘the Islamic World’. And yes i can see you have a muslim on staff… still no excuse.

    • 37 Ramesh, India
      July 2, 2009 at 15:46

      I don’t see anything wrong in the term Islamic world. Though in the present context, it is about algerians from the middle east, tomorrow it could be about Pakistanis in the UK. Not even any muslim person would find it objectionable in the term Islamic World.
      In the same way, we refer to most of the developed christian countries as western world that may include Australia and Newzealand too!! Is it objectionable too?

    • 38 Zachariah in Portland
      July 5, 2009 at 18:30


      The term Islamic world is being used in the same context as “The West”. What does “The West” mean? Is is just the US, is it Europe, is it Canada? See where I’m going with this?

    • 39 Zachariah in Portland
      July 5, 2009 at 18:46

      Why aren’t the men in the western audience more offended by this? To me, the burqa only says that as a man, i have zero control over my sexual urges, and so all women need to be covered up. Does Islam not believe in the existence of responsible adults?

  16. 40 kate
    July 2, 2009 at 15:42

    @Maxine – I couldn’t agree more, I had to travel to so many Muslim countries for a previous job that I have a whole box full of abayas and chadors and scarves and assorted bits of hijab gear required for different countries. I see no reciprocity or sense of what is culturally appropriate in women wearing a burqa in London or Sydney, especially in the middle of summer! What is worse, the MEN of every nation get to stroll around, cool and comfortable in a T-shirt and trousers while their womenfolk roast beside them. I resented that most of all.

  17. 41 rob z.
    July 2, 2009 at 15:47

    I agree with Glenn L,when you grow-up in a free society where poeple dress in the latest styles;and then you encounter women with their heads covered.
    Or possibly a family walking through a mall,men first and the women totaly covered.
    It can make you feel uncomfortable at first,you might think it’s not o.k.
    But if you educate yourself about the custums and beliefs of others,you will understand.
    Plus every person from the middle-east;Egypton,Pakistani or Suadi,have all been very polite in business and in social events.
    If approach people with a fixed notion you picked-up from t.v. or preacher that says all muslims hate the west.
    You are a sad individual.

  18. 42 Ann
    July 2, 2009 at 15:49

    That’s an impossible question to answer because I don’t think there is such a single entity as the ‘Islamic world’. There seems to be many different expressions of Islam, some more liberal than others.

  19. 43 Marija Liudvika Rutkauskaite
    July 2, 2009 at 15:50

    Yes, the Islamic world seems to be guilty of double standards. The determination to demand the burqa wearing from all women when in Islamic countries is very much like religious fanaticism. Too strong a rule on the local women at home and abroad is partly it, but when strangers are obliged on account of a garment, it is extreme. I wonder what is feared. Is it that the locals will see too much how freedom in dress is exercised? They know it all the same. Is it that the Islam men will see too much of female flesh and will turn unmanageable? So they may polish the men, not women. Is it that it is simpler to remove the movable object? In this case, the rule appears to be a purely physical action and it should not apply to people, first of all to strangers in Islamic countries. It is both the way of thinking and the rules of behaviour that demand adjustment to reason and to the dynamic world. All Western people admit that tolerance is the basic rule in intercultural communication. It may be religious fanaticism that fixes double standards with respect to the burqa, and this is beyond cure, as a rule. Double standards is a simple issue in this case. Thank you.

  20. 44 Tom K in Mpls
    July 2, 2009 at 15:57

    This is getting closer to the real question/issue. As I posted in another topic you started: “Maybe some politician could openly recognize and state that what the real issue is. The burqa is part of a fundamental interpretation of a religion. This interpretation is also a political and legal system. This system *will* conflict with any other system. Now here is the real question: Can, or how can, you stop this conflict?”

    It isn’t a double standard, it is a conflict of belief systems.

    • 45 Ali
      July 2, 2009 at 16:24

      Islam has been on the Earth for 1430 years…not bad for something static wouldn’t you say…you and I may live for 60-70 years…I hope you don’t still sill for too much of that time

    • 46 Scott [M]
      July 2, 2009 at 18:10

      Tom K in Mpls,

      It is indeed a double-standard, while it may be based on a conflict of “belief systems”—the end result is a double-standard. A religion wants freedom, but inherently and by definition, doesn’t give it to others. Besides this, treating men and women differently is doubtless a double-standard.

      • 47 Tom K in Mpls
        July 3, 2009 at 03:40

        Sorry, this is all opinion and I disagree. The fundamentalists of this religion do not ‘want’ freedom. They use the local laws as it suits them. They will proceed as their beliefs dictate. Do not confuse using your standards to their ends as a cry for freedom. I see no double standard.

  21. 48 Marija Liudvika Rutkauskaite
    July 2, 2009 at 16:03

    The Islamic world with its burqa problem stands a chance to lose its culture because fixed determination in matters physical leads to destruction. It is movement that creates development, while what is static is virtually dead in physics and philosophy. Double astandards are static by nature and extreme by function. They will not last long, if this consoles anyone. Anything extreme is usually replaced by its opposite, if this could call Islamic people to tolerance.
    Thank you.

  22. 49 Sean Meyer
    July 2, 2009 at 16:08

    The argument over the Burqa represents a battle between 2 mentalities. This is a battle that has been fought for years and is becoming more heated recently. It is the battle between religion and logic…the use of the burqa represents a religious mentality in which people rely on false fairy tales and arbitrary traditions to guide their principles, rather than logic and reasoning.

    Societies that are very religious tend to have more conflict and tend to be very oppressive. The French are simply trying to challenge religion in hopes that is may make people start to question religion more and start to ask themselves why they blindly follow certain beliefs that make no sense.

  23. 50 Michel Norman
    July 2, 2009 at 16:17

    Perhaps the problem is tham may muslems are mimiphants – mimosas when it comes to their sensibilities and elephants when it comes to treading on everybodu elses. There is no law here banning the burqa, which seems to me a pretty strong course of action, however it is amazing to see Arab families on the beach here, where the menfolk go around in swimming suits, and the women have to cope with temperatures in the thirties whilst remaining fully clothed. It says something about the attitude towards women that many in the west find offensive. Having said that, I was in Jerusalem yesterday and next to a building site there was a sign men only, women are forbidden to enter here – so the problem with the treatment of women is not restricted to Islam alone. I suspect that just as here we look upon the ultra orthodix with their strange mode of dress and their large families that threaten to change the make up of our country, the Islamic dress is a similar reminder to westerners of changing demographics that they find equally threatening.

  24. 51 Sean Meyer
    July 2, 2009 at 16:18

    People say that many of these women choose to where the burqa – but they really have no choice. They are brought up in a culture that favors the burqa and as they grown up they are overwhelmed with propaganda from their culture. It’s a form of brainwashing. If a woman grew up in a culture of freedom and secularism, she would be able to recognize how ridiculous the burqa and it’s origins are.

    • 52 Tom K in Mpls
      July 2, 2009 at 16:27

      Sean, you are ‘brainwashed’ into believing it is wrong and that you are right in the exact same way. Now which ‘brainwashing’ is right?

  25. 53 David Andrews
    July 2, 2009 at 16:36

    Yes. But so what? Just because some countries have strict dress codes does that mean that we, living in what we like to call the ‘free world’, have to follow their example? I think many people here, especially @Maxine, are just racist. Which isn’t surprising as she comes from a country which is openly racist (eg ‘White Australia policy’ on immigration and the ‘Stolen generations’ aboriginal children)

    David (United Kingdom)

    • 54 RightPaddock
      July 3, 2009 at 02:27

      @David Andrews – I’m a UK citizen living in Australia. I can’t allow your assertion that Australia is a racist country to go unchallenged. If your perception is based on the BBC’s Australian reportage then I’m not surprised, it’s almost entirely 2 dimensional – matters of race and dangerous creatures.

      It can’t be denied that Australia has had racist policies, notably those to which you’ve referred. But the last vestiges of the White Australia policy were torn down in 1973 and the wholesale removal of Aboriginal children from their families had ceased by 1971.

      Go to YouTube and watch then Prime Minister Paul Keating’s “Redfern” speech that he delivered to a mainly Aboriginal audience in 1992 In 2007 that speech was nominated by ABC (our BBC) radio listeners as their third “most unforgettable” speech , first was Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream”, second was Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount”.

      Reflect not only on the content of Keating’s speech, but also on the fact that the three speeches were given by a Baptist Negro, a Palestinian Jew and an Irish Catholic, are those the choices of a racist country — I think not.

      Of course if you choose to perpetually condemn Australia for its past, then assume you also condemn Britain as being anti-semitic because of what happened at York in 1190.

  26. 55 Peter_scliu
    July 2, 2009 at 16:37

    A shaven head, a turban wearer , a nun ‘s habit , unshaven beard and even santa clause . All depicting religious affliction . Is france going to banned religious freedom? A burkha is a personal choice in a secular country.

  27. July 2, 2009 at 16:39

    Salaam… Oh, so the “civilised” world is lowering itself down to the “standards” of the developing world, interesting, so now the “civilised” world wants to make itself equivalent to Saudi Arabia or Iran when it comes to the freedom of dressing, oh my god, how’s that even possible ???! The “civilised” world should be far above all of that. So now Mr Sarcozy shouldn’t (or more accurately doesn’t have the credibility to) criticise human rights violations or strict restrictions imposed on women in either Iran or Saudi Arabia, I mean how dare he criticise his own role-models ?! :). With my love. Yours forever, Lubna in Baghdad.

  28. 57 VictorK
    July 2, 2009 at 16:41

    Is the sky blue? Is the Pope Catholic? Is the Islamic world guilty of double standards?

    Muslims will continue to apply one standard in their own countries (repression in the name of religion) and demand a quite different standard in non-Muslim countries (freedom under a secular order). And they’re fully entitled to. The real question is, why are Western countries (i.e. the political and media establishments) usually so afraid of upsetting Muslims?

    “Is President Sarkozy, in trying to ban the burqa, simply redressing the double standards expressed in the Muslim world over dress?” Strange interpretation: I thought he was addressing a domestic issue as the leader of his country. Besides, how could the land of haute couture ever tolerate the burqua?

    @deryck/trinidad July 2, 2009 at 15:22: right to the heart of the matter. There’s a simple solution for those who object to Sarkozy-like dress initiatives.

  29. 58 Anthony
    July 2, 2009 at 16:45

    Once again it comes down to what it stands for, which is the fundamentalist Muslim, who I think no one wants in their country. I feel like he was saying “We don’t want you right wing fundamentalists Muslims in our country!” when he said that about the burqa.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  30. 59 John (Las Vegas)
    July 2, 2009 at 16:47

    It seems from the introduction that the issue is really about the Middle East, which raises a host of historical questions.

  31. 60 Nate, Portland OR
    July 2, 2009 at 16:57

    The Islamic world is not guilty of double standards. They have one standard, and one standard only: God’s standard. And God help anybody that disagrees with their understanding of God’s will!

    The main problem is the uncompromising certainty that comes from elevating the authority for earthly actions to heavenly sources. Most religions do this to some degree, but Islam does it by far the most, with their God apparently giving instructions nearly every aspect of earthly life.

    This certainty in their moral righteousness often results in their inability or unwillingness to see other cultures’ practices through the others’ eyes. Women’s dress is a highly visible example, and yesterday Anjem Choudary was exhibit A. By saying Carla Bruni dressed “like a prostitute” he refused to acknowledge that in her culture her dress signals nothing of the sort.

    I really have no idea what can be done about the inevitable conflict that arises when people with such uncompromising and specific beliefs about so much interact with people with significantly different or more permissive beliefs.

  32. 61 Jitan C
    July 2, 2009 at 16:58

    President Sarkozy is a publicity junkie who thrives on actions that generate and create publicity for him.

    On another note, talking to a person face-to-face generally makes conversations easier as more practical. The evidence of this can be seen in the progress that women have made in business and arts in the developed and most of the emerging economies.

    On the other hand Sarkozy’s comment has a valid angle. Historically, Islamic radicals have misused the religious significance of the burqa to commit heinous acts of discontent.
    There definitely needs to be a solution to deal with this security issue. I think Sarkozy should concentrate more on such aspects then trying to secularize France’s already open-minded society.

  33. 62 VictorK
    July 2, 2009 at 17:03

    @Lubna: surely how women dress in Iran or Saudi is no business of Sarko’s, or any other Westerner?

    And let’s not fall for the Western liberal prejudice that automatically supposes that everything about countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran deserves to be condemned, simply because they’re non-liberal (such as the Iranian achievement, almost unique outside of the West, of having established functioning political institutions that don’t depend on outsized personalities with life-time tenure for their operation).

    And as for ‘freedom’ – it’s not an absolute.

  34. 63 Ed Evanko
    July 2, 2009 at 17:06

    Strange comments! When I was in Iran and Turkey I don’t remember any requirement for me to wear other than what I wear in the US. If women want to wear Burqas that should be up to them. About 2 weeks ago, I read an article in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette whereby a city in Fl decided to inject a new policy whereby city employees could be fired if they didn’t use deoderant or wear underwear. The law was passed 4-1. The only person who objected was the City Mayor, because he believed it was a violation of freedom. I also spent time in Sub-Saharan Africa and saw a number of miniority women wearing burqas. I thought it was odd but it didn’t affect my stay. The majority of women in Iran & Turkey do wear western clothing and will continue to do so if they so desire. I’m neither offended by what women wear whether burqas, bathing suits or even topless!

  35. 64 Kim Johnson
    July 2, 2009 at 17:11

    Islam is all about hypocracy, oppressiona, dicatorship and backwardness!

  36. 65 Tyrone Marshall
    July 2, 2009 at 17:14

    I am glad this discussion has been made alive here in the UK, as a foreigner myself, I am disgusted with the way the British are being so politically correct with peoples lives. This is England, foundend on Christian values, and has its laws made up of Christial values. I have lived in this country for nearly 16 years and its not the same country as it used to be, mainly because the English have been reduced to second class citizen made to feel its wrong to voice out their beliefs in case they may be classed as racist.
    The Burqa should be as illegal as carrying a gun or a knife, the majority of British citizens DO NOT want to see that dressing on our streets. The muslim who are so keen to emulate the Prophet, please pack your hijabs & burqas to the lands that share your common goal, cause here we dont.
    As one caller said the koran says women should dress modestly not look like ninjas. The woman with 7 children who claims to be free to express herself in this country, can she also remind herself that the very same freedoms she and her kids enjoy are a result of the tolerance gone too far in this country, to a point of erasing the British way of life. The danger we face now as a country is this type of thinking is spreading through to the many kids these islam people appear to be having in this beloved country. I say to the British “lets think long term here people, a british couple of no affiliation to any religion has about 2 kids and the family is complete, in the muslim communities the avarag is 5, do the maths people – 50 years from now this country will have no pub standing but Mosques from every angle. Enough is Enough i say.

    • 66 RightPaddock
      July 3, 2009 at 02:54

      @Tyrone Marshall – I’m not entirely unsympathetic to your views regarding Britains unrelenting political correctness.

      But you too could go and live live elsewhere once again.

      I don’t think you’ll find many Muslim women wearing their burqas, chadors, hijabs or niqabs in Moscow, nor many Sikh men wearing their turbans and steel bracelets etc. Plenty of babushka’s though, their heads forever covered by a scarf – even on a warm sunny day, but at least they’re Christian eh.

  37. July 2, 2009 at 17:16

    The definition of Islam here is wrong, it is being portrayed as a culture to be compared with ‘Western culture’. What many people fail to realise is that Islam is not about adhering to cultural traditions, but about adhering to the laws of God; it is a RELIGION to be followed and not left at the doorstep of the Middle East when entering into a Western country.

    It’s like saying that a Muslim living in Syria is allowed to pray, but if he travels to England, well, English people don’t pray the way Muslims do so he shouldn’t either! It doesn’t make sense to have this mindset.

    Countries like France and Britain are scared of the public expression of Islam, like wearing a burka in public. Muslims should be allowed to follow the laws of their religion whereever they go.

    Comment posted by ‘Kate’ “What is worse, the MEN of every nation get to stroll around, cool and comfortable in a T-shirt and trousers while their womenfolk roast beside them. I resented that most of all.” – If you use MEN as your benchmark you will always compare women to what men have, and hence always fail to realise the many freedoms that the hijab gives to women.

    We need to stop looking at and judging Islam through the glasses of the West and allow Muslims in this country the same rights and freedoms that all other RELIGIONS (not cultures) already possess.

    • 68 RightPaddock
      July 3, 2009 at 03:40

      @A Muslim woman — I must take issue with your statement — “it is a RELIGION to be followed and not left at the doorstep of the Middle East”.

      Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, the Philippines and Brunei have sizable indigenous Muslim populations, indeed Indonesia has the worlds largest, but none of those countries are in the Middle East.

      It’s my observation that Muslims in these countries practice a gentler form of Islam, this just as true in very devout communities such as Aceh as it is in KL. I don’t think there are many instances of so called honour killings or forced (as opposed to arranged) marriages in those countries. Yet many of your co-religionists in the Middle East practice and defend these practices in the name of Islam.

      So I conclude that these issues are NOT only a matter of religion but also of culture, if you think I am wrong then do you also condemn Muslims of these countries as infidels.

  38. 69 Anthony
    July 2, 2009 at 17:21

    We should ask Al Qaeda if it would be ok for a Rabbi wearing a bekishe and a traditional catholic nun to walk down the streets of Afghanistan. I wonder if they would be fighting for their religious rights? I wonder if they would be safe?

    -Anthony,LA, CA

  39. 70 Ali
    July 2, 2009 at 17:27

    Did you know that Middle Eastern Muslims make up only 18% of the total Muslim population. Funny how educated Western muslim woman are taking on the Hijab and esspecially the Niqab. I have heard of a lot of wives that try to make thier husbands more religious. This is as much a womans right and obligation in Islam as is the prayer or fasting or paying Zakat. Muslims are not the best example of Islam. Only through reading and contemplating the true teachings of Islam can we understand what true belief is. Allahu Akbar

  40. 71 Ali
    July 2, 2009 at 17:31

    Mr Sarkosy is obviously lacking support from the far right in his parliment. What better way to stir up nationalism and votes than to find a common enemy. Arrogant little man. Hypocrasy what a word.

  41. 72 Chrissy in Portland
    July 2, 2009 at 17:36

    @ Annette’s comment: You say that when visiting their country you show respect regarding dress by wearing conservative clothing, does that mean you are suggesting they are being disrespectful to you by living their conservative lifestyle? I find it to be appalling that in this day and age people are having to fight for their religious freedoms in a “free” country.

    For those of you against the burqa… Seriously people, choose your battles! We’ve got global warming, war, starvation, a struggling global economy, AIDS… the list goes on and on. Let people wear what makes them most comfortable and get over it!

  42. 73 Ali
    July 2, 2009 at 17:37

    One last thing, to the non religious among you, it matters not if you insult the religion of people or even if you insult our creator. He is not in need of anything from you but you need everything from him. May God protect the beleiving woman who chose to follow the straight path…whoa to the munafiq

    • 74 Tyrone Marshall
      July 2, 2009 at 17:55

      Ali no one is insulting your religion, we are asking for you and your munafiq women to pack and go back to the chosen land that shares your values and your creator, cause the majority of us here and our women want a life that does not dictact how we go about in our day to day lives. So we wont miss you when you are gone you can believe that

    • 75 Ali
      July 2, 2009 at 18:26

      The Creator is the creator of all of us you included…What a muslim woman wears should not affect your ideals, unless you have something to ashamed of in your existance. You can be as decadent and do as you feel in your “free” countries. You send men to fight and die for this freedom. Why should we feel less welcome in your advanced free minded countries. I did my time serving my country in military service, I am an Australian, don’t I and my family deserve the same rights to that freedom…covered or not?

  43. 76 Chrissy in Portland
    July 2, 2009 at 17:38

    Is this argument really about what Muslim women wear or is it really about the west’s apparent lack of tolerance for the Muslim religion?

  44. 78 Scott [M]
    July 2, 2009 at 17:52

    We talk about religion, like it is a preference as simple as having a favorite food. But being a member of a religion generally means you think you are correct and everyone else is wrong about the fundamental questions of life. Not only do you view people as wrong, but you also think they deserve death, either by us or by some god. Being religious by proxy discriminates on a fundamental level, a discrimination of life and death.

    It is ironic that religions want freedom, but they think no one else deserves it. You can’t reconcile absolute certainty with the freedom to doubt. This freedom of religion, creates an illusion, because if everyone is religious then there is really no freedom at all.

    All religions are guilty of double-standards, but the Islamic world, because of its tendency to be so extreme or fundamentalist is guilty of excessive double-standards. There is no way for Muslims to avoid this while remaining such extremists. Because, when you push a ideology based entirely on the thin-air of faith, your entire life becomes a double-standard against empirically based reality.

  45. 79 Jessica in NYC
    July 2, 2009 at 17:53

    I have no problem respecting people’s cultural and religious beliefs, when I am a visitor in their country or home. The western world should not be threaten by Muslim world’s double standards, we should continue to hold true to our fundamental belief that we have the right to freedom of speech and religion.

    Living in NYC, daily I walk past people wearing burkas, turbans, veils, yarmulkes, zucchettos, Hijabs, niqabs, and so fourth. If it was not for today’s topic of discussion, I might not have noticed the gentleman in line at a coffee shop dressed in traditional Indian (Native American) head beads or the little girls wearing crowns while their mother dressed as a hippie style cloths ordered a double expresso. I was chatting with a woman wearing traditional Bangladesh attire, who is also a WHYS listener, and she said to me that people are afraid of what they do not understand or is unpopular.

  46. July 2, 2009 at 17:57

    So let me get this straight? Muslims want the world to conform to them how dare they!! But when the west does the same? Thats just fine, they are fighting for womens rights.!! And who is with the double standards again?

    • 82 asif in jamaica
      July 2, 2009 at 18:26

      i am not sure it is quite fair to call it a double standard if muslims choose to dress in the burkas, for the most part my only conviction is that there should always be a choice which is what i think the french prime minister focus on the topic is really about, he wants to know if the burkas wearing women of france are wearing the burkas bbecause they are forced to wear it or not.
      jamaica is a chistian country at heart ans is reputed for having more christain churches per sqaure mile than any other country in the world, with this knowledge a jamaican woman or man who claims to be chistian will usually display this conection with church and religion in dress and other daily life
      they will never be seen to be engaging in anything that confilcts with the religion, so perhaps they wear it as a sign of truly following their religios beliefs

  47. 83 Terry in Tabuk
    July 2, 2009 at 18:04

    I work here in Saudi, when I talk to a local about the women being covered up, they all say that they compare them to a diamond, that must be kept hidden away from sight, does this mean that women are considered property?

  48. 84 Anthony
    July 2, 2009 at 18:07

    @ Ali

    That’s not true. I challenge you to show proof that the middle east only makes up 18% of the Muslim population. You might mean the statistic that arabs make up for 20% of the Muslim Population, but they don’t even include Pakistan, Turky, Afgan, etc.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

    • 85 RightPaddock
      July 3, 2009 at 04:49

      @Anthony – Many people outside the US regard the ME as the Near East (aka the Levant) plus the Arabian Peninsular, but NOT Nth Africa, Iran, Afghanistan or Pakistan – essentially the territory between the Med. Sea and the Tigris/Persian Gulf.

      If Ali’s using that definition of the Middle East he could well be right. The largest Muslim populations are in Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Iran, Egypt and Turkey – only the last of which is in that definition of the ME.

      The Amerigo media (includes the BBC) regards everywhere from Morocco to Bangladesh as part of the ME. Watch out China you’re next, and they’ve got their eyes on Greece and Australia; if they have their way it’ll just be the America’s and Middle East. The Amerigo media feel they have to report issues from a Manichean worldview rather than a pluralistic one because their poor dumb American audience only understands issues when they’re presented as black v white;-)

  49. 86 Shannon
    July 2, 2009 at 18:08

    “Conservative religious values” and the complete and utter subjugation of women often go hand-in-hand–no matter the religion.

    I do believe that many women who wear the burqua do so because they have no choice–if they adopt a less severe form of dress–even hijab–they face grave, even life-threatening consequences (“honor killings”–which have occured here in the U.S.). Muslim men need to admit this openly and quit insisting they cannot control their own “urges” when what they really have in mind is relegating women to the status of cattle.

    It is true that many fortunate, well-educated women opt to cover themselves entirely, but it seems that most women who wear burqua in the west spend most of their time walking three paces behind their husbands when they are not locked up at home, sometimes (not always)enduring physical and emotional abuse. As I said yesterday, I don’t see many business executives or cadiologists wearing burquas.

  50. 87 Julie
    July 2, 2009 at 18:08

    It is true that when a tourist is in a Muslum country, it is disrespectful not to follow the customs that are in place there. But as free capitalistic countries, we claim to stand firmly upon the grounds of free rights, including the right to choose how one dresses. Cultural propriety and legality are two different things. To me, the question is not about a Muslim double standard, it is about a Western one. In my opinion, the need to control the muslum right to be covered in France is motivated by fear and politics alone, not in a consideration for the rights of the individuals residing there. Who does President Sarkozy think he is?

  51. 88 Hisham
    July 2, 2009 at 18:12

    Two Points:

    1. To Maxine, you are a good westener to respect the dress code. But, some here in Dubai, were cought topless, and even having sex on the beach. And many other do not even bother to dress or respect the local poeple.

    2. to Annette, if you can walk into a church with bikini only, I will personally fly you to Makka to do it.

  52. 89 JT (USA)
    July 2, 2009 at 18:13

    As a Muslim woman, I defintely agree that there’s a double standard in many “Islamic” countries. Muslims are free to express themselves in the West, but many Islamic countries are intolerant of the ‘others,’ be the ‘others’ moderate Muslims or non-Muslims. However, there’s a tolerated/unspoken double standard everywhere, but this is not the topic on the forum.

    I think Sarkozy will be more effective if he works with moderate Muslims to help educate them on “Islamic” dress code. He should ask Islamic scholars, both men and women, to spread the message to Muslims that the Qur’an encourages Muslims to be people of the middle in their way of their lives. The Qur’an also asks Muslims not to make their religion distasteful. This simply means that Muslims should avoid both extremes, which include the way they dress. In my opinion, the burqa is both an extreme and distateful way of dressing that the fanatics/extremists impose on women.

    Banning is not the solution. Forcing the issue will make Sarkozy’s approach appear similar to that of the fanatical and extreme mullahs.

  53. 90 Venessa
    July 2, 2009 at 18:13

    @ Nanci’s comment:

    “They are living in ‘my’ culture, so why can’t they show us British the same courtesy?”

    Your culture? Really? Are there not millions of other people living in “your culture” that don’t subscribe to your believe system? I was under the impression that there was freedom of religion in your country or do the rules get to change when you’re offended?

    This is hypocrisy. Either ban all religious clothing in public or get over it.

  54. 91 John (Las Vegas)
    July 2, 2009 at 18:14

    The real question is how to reconcile different values — values of dress, speech, religion — in a global age. If we look just at different values of dress between the West and the Arab world, we will just go around in circles.

    There is no easy, ready answer. It’s going to need dialogue like that which is happening here today.

  55. 92 Sean Meyer
    July 2, 2009 at 18:15

    I don’t agree with this idea that a country’s customs should be respected no matter what. Conservative countries are wrong for basing so much of their customs on old religious writings that aren’t supported by science and logic.

    Just because a culture has certain rules, that does not mean such rules are always valid. Sometimes it’s just a matter of right and wrong. It’s wrong to base your dress code on religious writings that are not based on common sense and reason.

    You have to look at where these rules originate from. The rules regarding the burqa originate from religious writings that were written to mislead and control people. Is it o.k. to simply follow these rules and respect them? No – such rules should not be respected.

  56. July 2, 2009 at 18:15

    Obviously there is a double standard. One recent revelation for me from the recent protest in Iran. Is how beautiful Iranian women are! All persons should be free to choose.

  57. 94 Hisham
    July 2, 2009 at 18:15

    Now, for the truth about Burqa. Burqa, and many “Muslims”will most likely disagree with, is not an Islamic dress code, but, a Middle Eastern Culuteral code of dressing.

  58. 95 Jessica in NYC
    July 2, 2009 at 18:17

    @Fatima, Speaker

    Absolutely, that was my point. Being Muslim does not make you less British. In the UK and US we take pride in allowing us to wear whatever we want. Those are our laws.

  59. 96 Manas Gupta
    July 2, 2009 at 18:18

    If Burqa is about freedom of choice then we should remember that with freedom comes responsibility. Burqa is an attire that screams “I am different”, “Stay away from me”, I think it is the responsibility of all muslims to dress with other people in mind.

    People don’t move around the streets wearing swim wear or bikini, they only wear it at the pool or at the beach. Similarly people don’t move around wearing Nazi uniform with a prominent swastika since that is intolerant to other people’s feelings.

    Because of these reasons Burqa should not be allowed.

  60. July 2, 2009 at 18:19

    There is a double standard when those you claim to defend liberty take offense at anothers dress. They have a shallow understanding of what liberty is.

  61. 98 Joe Kramer
    July 2, 2009 at 18:21

    All religions are man-made and therefore false. To follow a rule simply because a religion says so is a bad way to go about life.

    The reasons for the burqa are not based on common sense, but rather are based on made-up religious writings. This narrow-minded way of thinking should not be tolerated.

  62. July 2, 2009 at 18:21

    So some countries and societies choose to have standards, of freedom and human rights, and some do not! Guess thats the double standard!

  63. 100 Kelly in North Carolina, USA
    July 2, 2009 at 18:22

    You cannot walk around topless if you are a woman in the USA. In some European countries you can go topless. It is just a more strict standard of decency in each country. So until there are absolutely no laws regarding dress in any one country then it is hypocritical to say that the nations that dictate women wear the hijab or other type of veil are using a double standard.

  64. 101 lucien desgai
    July 2, 2009 at 18:22

    As a liberal in a liberal country (UK) I believe that women should be free to wear the burqa, however puzzling such a choice may be to me. But as a gay man I rarely experience liberal attitudes from people of many faiths, including Islam.

    Religious people have a right to expect standards of tolerance and acceptance towards them, but in a liberal society they have a duty to adhere to such standards in their dealings with others.

  65. 102 John (Las Vegas)
    July 2, 2009 at 18:25

    While it’s great to go into the minutae of the burqa and explore the various ancedotes of women who wear or don’t wear the burqa, hijab, niqab or chador, it misses the larger questions: How to tolerate difference? When to tolerate difference? Why to tolerate difference?

  66. 103 Drew Oetzel (pronounced et-zhul)
    July 2, 2009 at 18:27

    Would any of the pro hijab women support Saudi Arabia signing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and allowing people to wear whatever they like there? That’s the double standard.

  67. July 2, 2009 at 18:27

    The history of ‘separation’ between church and religion has, in reality, promoted secularism or protestantism. Western law has been shaped by Christian law more so than anything else, despite how staunchly many French Republican politicians will argue they are free of Religious ties.
    Let’s recognize how the west forces their own kind of religion – the religion of secularism- before we attack Muslims for wearing a burqa, a symbol of their devotion to God.

  68. 105 John (Las Vegas)
    July 2, 2009 at 18:28

    Muslims do have different standards.

  69. 106 Molly Patterson
    July 2, 2009 at 18:29

    Women across the world should have the choice to wear whatever they want to. It seems so wrong to me that anyone should have that choice taken from them whether through law or custom.

    • 107 Sharafadeen A. (Sokoto, Nigeria)
      July 3, 2009 at 16:02

      It do suprise me to always hear “women have the right to wear what want to wear”. I don’t think it so (referring to the Western ways of female dressing). Even in the 18th and early part of 19th centuries what the woman in the West wearing? of course the wore long dresses that do not reveals the bodies (thus, some sense of decency is poteray). Now in the 20th century woman of the west want themselve be seen in mini-skrits, bikinis,tatooes on their sexually sensitive areas exposed to the public. Unknowingly to them over 80% the designers of these female designer-cloth are men. The men know what they want the female folks exposed that will arouse them sexually, such as an opening on the chest of a woman dress that the space or part of the breast is obvious
      It is very much of unfortunate for the female not to reflect, most of them were being be-fooled.

  70. 108 Jack Lafleur in Cleveland
    July 2, 2009 at 18:29

    Just because a dress-code is part of a religion, that does not make it right. If there is a religion that condones murder, would people say it’s o.k. for members of that religion to kill because it’s part of their religion? It is a matter of logic and right and wrong. The concept of the Burqa was created suppress women and it is not a valid concept. I think it’s good that people are challenging this dress code.

  71. 109 Dave
    July 2, 2009 at 18:29

    Good for you Muslim women. Now you subjugate yourself in the absence of your Muslim men and religious police. You are like slaves fighting for slavery.

  72. 110 Shelagh
    July 2, 2009 at 18:30

    I am a American and I lived in Bangladesh, a secular country that is majority muslim. In my experience there, although it is not law, it is highly socially accepted to wear the veil. However, women are not looked down upon for doing so. Often times in school, the teachers would request the girls to show their face to know they are paying attention and understanding the material. This was common practice in other situations as well. If Bangladesh can leave it to the people to decide, why should a western democracy tell a citizen what she should wear? This is clearly discrimination against Muslims and Islam in general.

  73. 111 Scott Brown
    July 2, 2009 at 18:30


    I believe there is a double standard.

    Certainly the covering of women helps keep men from sexual lust, however, enough of this political correctness already. We bend over backwards to accommodate Muslims here, even when some types of Islam are out for our destruction. We should not bow to them when they come to our country, even though they loudly complain that we should.

    I am concerned that we are politically correct to our detriment. Let’s keep the culture here that was initially greatly informed by Christianity. However even that is being dismantled in favor of lasciviousness and selfishness, and that may also be to our loss.

    Scott Brown
    Portland, Oregon

  74. 112 Andrew (retired)
    July 2, 2009 at 18:32

    In any society, you are always judged by how you dress, you get treated differently. no one is treated equally. Appearances count.

    So if you’re in the West, under the law, you have the right to dress what you want, but don’t expect equal treatment.

    That’s life.

  75. 113 Keith
    July 2, 2009 at 18:33

    Too many people are saying “Islamic countries oppress us when we enter, we should be able to oppress Muslims in our country by stipulating what they wear!”

    NEWS FLASH: Several Islamic countries are oppressive.

    Shame on European countries for not taking the high road.

  76. 114 Jesse Larner
    July 2, 2009 at 18:35

    One of the fundamental tenets of the democratic west is that all citizens have an equal role to play in civic life. It is not possible to be open to civic responsibility – at least in this culture — without showing one’s face. That is why the burka is absolutely incompatible with western values and western democracy. This doesn’t necessarily mean it should be banned by law; but it does mean that we can quite legitimately question the commitment to democracy and civics on the part of women who choose to wear the burka in the west — and why they choose to live here. If we truly believe in women’s civic equality, we will defend it; and defend it preferentially over relativistic notions of cultural practice.

  77. July 2, 2009 at 18:35

    It is a woman’s right to choose how she should dress- the same as for men. Whether to restrict women to wear the berqa or to disallow the berqa, it is not right. Allow women the choice- whatever that might be.

    I don’t think the Muslim religion is showing a double standard, to my understanding there is large variation in interpretation of Muslim law concerning the berqa. Countries that require “modest” dress need to recognize that Western women have a different standard of dress and respect that as well.

  78. 116 Stevens Mack
    July 2, 2009 at 18:36

    There is nothing like double standard. it is an issue of religious belief which goes hand in hand with the culture of the muslims where ever they are. President Sakozy should be more concerned about issues of development in france and not issues of human right. If i choose even as a man to wear veil i dont see how that should bother anyone. This is not even an issue to talk about as far as i am concerned.

  79. 118 Julia
    July 2, 2009 at 18:36

    The dress rules in countries like Saudi and Iran are made and enforced by men. I live in the Gulf. I often see women trying to exercise in 30 degree heat wearing a full abeya and niqab, with a pair of trainers poking out the bottom. Women are held back from competing in international sports competitions simply because they’re not supposed to wear shorts. Of course I respect the choice of women who choose to cover up. But in many cases, it’s hardly a free choice. The “culture” we’re supposed to respect in many Islamic countries is one that is defined by men, not women.

  80. 119 Vijay
    July 2, 2009 at 18:36

    Is the Islamic world guilty of double standards?

    No,not really this issue is just another “stick” with which to “beat” Islam, muslims and muslim countries,before 9/11 no one bothered, no one cared what religious minorities wore,post 9/11 every aspect of minority religious believes have come under needless scrutiny which further antagonises and marginalises them.

    Isn’t there a set of universal human rights defined by the UN?

  81. 120 Hamid
    July 2, 2009 at 18:37

    I am amazed by the west’s fixation tawards Moslem countries, we don’t go around mingling in the life style of the western world, I have lived in America for 30 years and resently went to visit the family as I do every year and was shoked to see one of my sisters covering her hair, she went to nun shcool when she was young because they offered good education, she lived a western life and was never was bothered. So I asked what’s up with the change? “It’s my choice, I am fed up, they can’t tell us what to do” I could not answer nor chalenge her beleive.
    Hamid Morocco

  82. 121 Jamie
    July 2, 2009 at 18:37

    Is it not hypocritical of the West to say we have freedom of speech and expression – but it doesnt apply to muslim women, because we dont agree with it?
    Muslims born and bred in the West have no control or say over the laws in Saudi or Iran or wherever. The people passing the laws in Iran are not arguing for freedom of speech in the UK – if that were the case then that would be hypocritical.

  83. 122 Lydia
    July 2, 2009 at 18:38

    In the US and Europe, we have freedom of religion. No one can dictate my religion nor how I dress. In some Muslim countries, they base their laws on their religion and its rules. It is a difference in the basis of our laws and morals. If I travel to a country, I must obey the laws. It is not a double standard. I cherish my freedom of religion; they cherish their religion.
    I do not wear a Burka or Hijab, but I dress modestly for an American woman. If someone forced me to wear shorts and low-cut shirts, I would be unhappy and uncomfortable.
    I feel uncomfortable when I am next to a woman in a Burka because I cannot see her facial expressions, but I would never force her to take it off. It must be her decision, when in my country, to dress how she wants.

  84. 123 Dennis Moyo
    July 2, 2009 at 18:38

    The west needs to stop fuffing around about the future of our children, Islam belongs to the middle east and those other nations that want to follow the religion. This freedom is becoming the bain of our lives, if they dont like the heat they need to go fast.

    Dennis from Zambia

  85. 124 Patty
    July 2, 2009 at 18:39

    The fear is that women are somehow coerced or ordered to cover themselves by the male religious authorities in some Muslim countries. Ignoring for a moment the assumption that no woman would choose to cover herself, is it an improvement that in France they will be coerced or ordered to not cover by male French civil authorities? Are we assuming women can’t decide for themselves even in France?

    Certainly in situations where a person’s photo ID is used for security purposes, such as airports or when showing a driver’s license, some exposure is necessary. Otherwise, let Muslim women decide for themselves in countries where non Muslim women get to decide.

  86. 125 Justin from Iowa
    July 2, 2009 at 18:40

    One of your callers said that Islam should adapt to modern times. I think this is very wrong. Islam has actually already done this – this is the problem I think? The widespread wearing of the full covering for islamic women seems to be very reactionary to western civilization. Its adapting – in a bad way – already.

  87. 126 Keith
    July 2, 2009 at 18:41

    On the other hand, if a religion strictly believed in nudism, would Western countries not force them to cover up as certain Islamic countries today force European women to cover their faces? This is a similar issue of forced modesty, and it ultimately boils down to a difference in religion.

  88. 127 Scott [M]
    July 2, 2009 at 18:41

    The burqa by definition is itself a double-standard!

    – One standard for men.
    – One standard for women.

    It would be hard to find a more clear double-standard.

    Double-Standard 101.

  89. 128 Vadim Y
    July 2, 2009 at 18:42

    Muslim women, just like all citizens living in free countries have the choice to wear whatever they want. What’s next? No baggy pants? No disagreeing with the government? Thought police? Practice what you preach.

  90. July 2, 2009 at 18:42

    Not double standards,simply a matter of personal choice.

    Also ,as an Egyptian man I can tell you that western women are only “harassed” by Egyptian men because they are considerably easier to get into bed.In fact many women come here to exploit the abundance of young available men.
    This has nothing at all to do with whether they wear a burka or not,it is purely a result of them coming from a more permissive society.

    Come to Egypt and wear what you like

  91. 130 Andrea
    July 2, 2009 at 18:43

    How is it freedom or democracy if we make women dress a certain way. This is what makes us different from countries who oppress women and make them wear a burka whether they like to or not. I would hope that living in the western world would make you free to wear whatever you like. How can we take away this freedom? This is obviously a double standard on the western world’s part.

  92. 131 Anthony in Portland
    July 2, 2009 at 18:44

    I don’t think it’s not a double standard, it’s two seperate standards.
    1. Each country has laws for that country including dress code and when in a country people should respect those laws.
    2. A religious standards and each the choice of a person to where certian relegious clothing is their right in countries that allow personal choice.

    Again these are two seperate issues and not a combined issues to be preceived as a double standard.

  93. 132 Linda C
    July 2, 2009 at 18:45

    Even Western democracies do not permit absolute freedom to dress in religious clothing. Fundamentalist Sikh males, for example, are suppose to wear a ceremonial knife, but society has an interest in keeping schools and other public areas free of weapons. The conflicting interests cannot be reconciled—compromises must be painfully worked out. Neither side is fully happy with the outcome, but that’s the nature of compromise.
    Wearing of the Burka is not just a personal choice. It implies to all young women that hiding one’s body and hiding one’s non-verbal expressions are admirable qualities, and that blatantly unequal rules are to be permitted in Western societies. Wearing mini-skirts in conservative countries is prohibited in order to protect public moral values; wearing burkas may be prohibited in France to protect democratic values.
    A reasonable compromise is to permit the headscarf but not the burka.

  94. 133 Joanne
    July 2, 2009 at 18:46

    I get the impression that there’s a misconception sometimes that the burqa is simply a form of dress, something akin to a cap or other piece of insignificant clothing. It means a lot more than that, it is for the “faithful” a religious necessity.

    Having said that, as much as I’d like to sit here and defend the rights of muslim women to adhere to Qur’anic injunctions; if one is going to wear niqab, hijaab, burqa do it properly. Show it the proper respect it deserves, or don’t do it at all. Then there’s the issue of some muslim women going too far – does anyone remember the story of those two med students who wouldn’t scrub up because they’d have to expose their forearms?

    And the argument that muslims move to Western states in order to have democracy and prosperity holds very little water. A religious conviction does not predetermine all of one’s goals and aspirations, nor does it determine where the winds will cast you. Honestly. Why then do foreigners move to Islamic states? Do they have a peculiar fascination with black and men in long dresses?

  95. 134 Adam - NYC
    July 2, 2009 at 18:48

    It’s really simple, if you live in a country that gives you the right to wear what you want than enjoy your freedom and do not complain that other people leaving in your country enjoy the same freedom but choose to dress differently.
    There is no double standard coming from middle-eastern countries – this is their law and anybody who enters should follow it – just like if you go to UK, you are expected to drive on the left side of the road.

    It’s is quite scary to listen to some people (from free world) coming up with explanations why only they should enjoy the freedom of choice.

  96. 135 Simon in Montreal
    July 2, 2009 at 18:48

    The two standards that are being compared are being applied by two different systems. They are not double standards.

    Both systems are applying their standards consistently. One requires women to dress in a certain way and the other allows women to dress as they like.

    However it appears that Sarkozy wishes to place restrictions on how women can dress.

    Whether those standards cause problems or don’t is a different question.

  97. 136 Hannah
    July 2, 2009 at 18:53

    Religious freedom does not mean one can do whatever one wants. In Germany for example it is forbidden by law to hide your face. So this is against the law.

  98. 137 Hunter
    July 2, 2009 at 18:55

    The Vatican has strict dress codes for women that no one seems to complain about as double standard. If you don’t like the local dress code and you won’t comply, don’t go. I don’t believe there is a double standard only local customs.

  99. 138 globalcomedy
    July 2, 2009 at 18:57

    It’s one thing to have a religious belief. But isn’t a part of Islam showing tolerance for others’ cultures and views? In most Western cultures, women are not seen as second class. Also, like it or not, but the face is very important. Do Arab men cover their faces when doing business overseas? No. There has to be a limit to “religious freedom”. Otherwise, go elsewhere.

    • 139 Tarique
      July 2, 2009 at 19:59

      Islam is a religion of peace and social harmony. Wow! what I am writing may astonish you, but it’s the reality. Ponder over history and even to the western world for a while, absolutely you will get the answer with clarity that it is Islam which saves women from defamation and social degradation.

      Once a man asked Prophet(pbuh) whom he should love most. The prophet(pbuh) replied your mother. The man asked then. He(pbuh) replied your mother. The man asked next. He(pbuh) replied your mother. Then whom should I love most, the man asked. Your father, replied the prophet(pbuh).

      There are many rigid documents regarding women’s position. Islam never degrade women. So please try to have a look at least to some islamic articles available online.

  100. 140 Natalie
    July 2, 2009 at 18:57

    The Islamic way of life is different from the western way of life. If someone came to our country wearing only a thong and bra in public, we would probably get very upset, and treat them as “unrespectable” because in our culture that is very wrong. It makes people around them uncomfortable for them to dress so skimpy. Women in Islamic culture are expected to wear a lot more clothing than in the western world. If a woman wears shorts and a tang top over there, it would probably be like someone nearly naked in the western world. I don’t think it’s the western world’s place to comment on their way of dressing. Every place in the world has certain expectations for what is “acceptable” for women to wear. Even in the western world. Women can dress nearly naked in the western world, but it will bring disrespect, just like wearing shorts and a tang top in the Islamic world may bring disrespect to women over there.

  101. 141 Guy
    July 2, 2009 at 18:57

    The French president’s comments were sort of unfortunate but the main point he was trying to make was that the full body coverage represented something that was not compatible with French values. Because he is generalizing (wrongly so) a certain brand of very repressive brand of islam. And people who doubt there is such a thing should go spend sometimes in Afghanistan.
    The goal of his comment was to promote women’s emancipation and freedom.
    Also, the general idea that muslim men are forcing their wives to wear certain garments is troubling to most westerners.
    As for the double standards, it seems obvious: yes. Because in most “muslim” countries religion is dictating how women should dress. The mingling of religion in public rules is also troubling to most westerners.
    That said, the west has its own brand of abuse towards women.

  102. 142 Dan
    July 2, 2009 at 19:01

    @A Muslim woman
    The Burka is a symbol of the oppression of women. You may love this in your Islamic country of origin but the civilized world wants nothing to do with it.
    If you want to follow Islam as a religion then do so in your own country and not impose your values upon those that want nothing to do with it.
    What would you do with Christians with bibles and a cross marching through Mecca?
    No matter what your religion you have no right to impose it upon others without their consent and it is clear that the West including France does not want it.
    But be careful, for if you persist then you open tourself up to Christian prosthelisizing throughout the Islamic world.

    • 143 Tarique
      July 2, 2009 at 19:41

      Dude, you have your belief and you will go with it unless you change it on the course of life, so do the Muslim have. So please do not nose to other belief(religion) since your women do not need to wear veil, for whatever you do, you will be responsible for it and vice-versa for the Muslim.

  103. 144 Lisa
    July 2, 2009 at 19:02

    I really am shocked by the comments being made here. What if there were a country where people did NOT wear clothing at all. How would you like to visit there and be told that you too must strip? I believe these women might feel very violated by being exposed to the “general” public in such a way. I see a much greater overall social good in women covering themselves than in the use of the “miniskirt” in order to allign themaselves with male counterparts in the workplace. I would feel inclined to cover muself from the eyes of men with those typs of westernized idealism!

  104. 145 Brigitta Deistler
    July 2, 2009 at 19:02

    According to Western claims, everybody can dress how he/she feels. That´s what Muslim women do wearing their traditional dress, so why complain about that?
    But double standard exists in a different way: Western world encourages very strongly that women dress and make up in order to please men, from high heels to botox… not to think of the countless porno sites where women are depicted as mindless sex slaves…
    Regarding women’s rights, they are violated everywhere where women are pressed into a standarized picture, be it muslim submission or the western sex symbolism.

  105. 146 Jorg
    July 2, 2009 at 19:06

    Are the French right about the burqa?

    I think the original question was whether the French are right or wrong. In my opinion they are clearly right.

    I am writing from Berlin, Germany. I believe that the French and the Germans have similar views on civil liberties.

    I believe that the state is very much allowed to regulate what people do. For example: In Germany we have a general duty to send children to school. Even if the parents don’t want to send the children to school and the children don’t want to go to school, the state says: “We, the state, know better than you parents and children. You have to go, or we will come and get you and also send your parents to jail”. Simple as that.

    Another example in Germany: There is compulsory health insurance. If you don’t have health insurance either through a private or public scheme, you get a fine.

    So if looking at the history of Europe – the was the age of enlightenment here – the French society represented to the elected government decides that it is best for women not to wear a certain item of clothing, that it. They can legislate against it.

    The state has a duty of care for it’s subjects, and the state is allowed to know what is best for society and the individual.

    • 147 RightPaddock
      July 3, 2009 at 13:04

      @Jurg – You’ve raised an important issue that cuts across this and many other WHYS discusions

      The legal system of much of Europe, including Germany is based on the Napoleonic Code, a principle of which is that the individual can only do those things the State says an individual is allowed to do. So the individual must assume that the things on which the state is silent cannot be done.

      This contrasts to the system of Common Law that applies in England and the rest of the Anglosphere, including the US, and to a greater or lesser extent in Scandinavia. The corresponding principle is that the individual cannot do the things that the state says an individual shall not do. So the individual can assume that the things on which the state is silent can be done.

      This difference as to what the individual can assume about those things on which the state is silent is profound. It explains why the English in particular detest the EU. The endless regulations (e.g. the allowable size & curvature of a banana) are a total anathema to the principles that are at the heart of English Common Law.

      Common Law principles are enacted in actual laws dating back to the Magna Carta (1215) and beyond, other milestones include the English Civil Wars (1641-51) and their consequent law reforms, the Bill of Rights (1689) and the Act of Settlement (1701); all of which occurred long before the American Revolutionary War of Independence (1775-83) or the French Revolution (1789-99).

  106. 148 matthew b.
    July 2, 2009 at 19:11

    As an american, it seems to me that europeans have some pretty odd notions about freedom. How is a law that bans women from wearing a form of attire an aid to freedom for women? thats flatly contradictory. isn’t it obvious that for many muslim women the burqa is opart of a particular religious observance?

    there is no double standard here because the situations are not parrallel. broadly speaking, in western culture dress is simply ornamentation, not religious observance. the fact that many muslim countries are strict about forcing people to observe forms of dress is a sign of the frequently authoritarian nature of many muslim countries, not of some “double standard”. thats like complaining that dictatorships are just too dictatorial. redundant. why the west would want to emulate that is beyond me.

    I’m sure women are pressured into dressing a certain way, but we have our own ways of pressuring women to comply to certain ideals, which is why the west leads in anorexia and bulimia. in many non-western countries, these disorders are almost unheard of.

    One more point: this form of dress may be for some people and some places more or less an abuse, but again, that is just representative of status of women in many muslim societies. the proper way to address such systematic disenfranchisement is not forbidding french women from wearing what they want. i think the proposed ban is therefore extremely naive.

  107. 149 globalcomedy
    July 2, 2009 at 19:14

    What would many Middle Eastern countries be like if women were in charge? Would all women have to wear a burqa?

  108. 150 ~Rhoda in the United States
    July 2, 2009 at 20:02

    I think the whole world is guilty of double standards.

  109. 151 Tarique
    July 2, 2009 at 20:27

    Simply, men and women are naturally not equal in physical stature. For example, women have monthly period wherever men do not have. Now, let’s look at the Islamic dress code for male and female. The obligatory parts to cover for men are from naval to knee. But men can not go to anywhere wearing just a shorts. They have to follow Islamic etiquette. By the way, there are two paradigms for woman regarding dressing viz. indoor and outdoor coverings. Woman has to cover everything except their face, fingers and feet when she goes to outdoor activities. But anybody who wishes to cover more than the prescribed one is welcome. For indoor activities, dress code is liberal provided that there is no one who is eligible to marry her(gairi muharram). Let’s come to the issue that whether women should wear hijab/veil/burka or not. I am not belligerent to Mr. Sarkozy since he does not have any knowledge regarding Islamic dress code, but I do know he does surely know what the Christian nuns should wear. Look, nuns cover their body due to religious obligation not for the European tradition, so do the Muslim women. Though I like this discussion on air, I have an objection to the random selection of converser from different regions. Because many of the women those have been selected do not have proper knowledge regarding Islam though they are Muslim. Moreover, this mere conversation will not bring change to this world. Let invite some Muslim scholars from different sects of Muslim and ask them why Muslimah should wear veil/burka/hijab. Regarding one question by an Iranian lady to Tahira that why women need to cover themselves, whereas God did not provide them with covering with birth. Simple answer, when you were born you did not have many things. For example, you did not get teeth with your birth. Now will you break down all of your teeth or try to keep them intact? It’s up to you. But for a muslimah hopefully choose later.

  110. 152 CJ McAuley
    July 2, 2009 at 20:42

    1st off; well said, globalcomedy. Although I am by no means a full supporter of total free-market capitalism; particularly in the service sector of the “West”, I doubt any bank would allow any employee to hide their face! I also believe that this entire topic is nothing but a canard!!!

    July 2, 2009 at 20:53

    Muslims are unfairly discriminative. No matter what you say or do, you are treated as an infidel. They are not alone in this because Judaism operates in the same way. They treat you as a gentile. They treat the rest us as just the other. Both are conservative religions which not only regulate social life but politics as well. These religions tend to form theocracies instead of democracies. Democracy may exist but only to serve as the arena in which the engage the other. Again they tend to deny this because they want to be seen as if what is they are doing is normal. This is clearly deception intended for exploiting that other.

    This is unfair in mordern world where we want to see more honest recognition of each other. It is selfish for one to want to trade with other societies and demand fair standards from others while at the same time viewing them as representatives of the devil. Dress code is very important for them when they want to identify each other so that discrimination can thrive.

  112. 154 Ibrahim in UK
    July 2, 2009 at 21:05

    Btw: You can’t walk around in a bikini in the Vatican either.

    A Muslim in a non-muslim country is allowed to wear their Islamic dress. A non-muslim in a Muslim country is not allowed to wear their non-muslim dress. So this is called double-standard.

    But why should the debate of double-standards only relate to laws surrounding dress.

    A Briton in Holland is allowed to smoke cannabis. A Dutchman in Britain is not allowed to smoke cannabis. Is that double-standard by the British?

    A Briton driving in Germany is allowed to speed on the Autobahn. A German in Britain is not allowed to go over 70mph. Is that double-standards by the British?

    If you continue to compare the laws of each country, you will find that they are not all uniform. Are we all double-standards then?

    Anyone (muslim or non-muslim) is expected to follow the laws of the land that they are in.
    If you live in a country which allows you the freedom to wear what you like, then why is it double-standards to wear what you like?

    The question for France: How long has the Burqa been allowed in France and why is it now becoming an issue?

  113. 155 Ernesto
    July 2, 2009 at 21:46

    “Particular religious observance”, wearing a burqa? More likely utter male dominance and repression. We are now beyond Cultural Relativism. Understanding the other doesn’t necessarily mean accepting him raw. Circumcision and burqas are phenomenon of the same outrageous religiousness. Muhammad knew burqas nor female genital mutilation.
    The “Muslim World” i.e. that part of it where Islam is part of the law, shows cultural colonialism. They don’t come with military armies, but with the armies of their poor. Unfortunately it is the uneducated and chronically unemployed part of their society driven by hunger and fear that invade our part of the world. Since we need(ed) the workforce they were welcome. Still we better demand a certain adaptation to our culture, however morally needy it is, for not to be flooded with this anxiety driven, primitively orthodox religious fanaticism.
    We educate our children, in fact it is an obligation, so is helping the poor, the sick and the mentally ill. We do not chop off limbs or stone to death people that have been naughty. And we do not tolerate honour killings. At least not laid down in laws. I hope really we are never going to accept Sharia Law in our society and give back medieval powers taken from an estranged group of scribes and teachers of our Holy Book. It took a millennium and endless wars to reconquer God from the priests, when finally democracy struck it was the end of the priesthood. Still democracy ends at the doors of the church, temple, synagogue or mosque.

  114. 156 Donnamarie in Switzerland
    July 2, 2009 at 21:49

    The burka is remarkably like the “habit” of a medieval nun. It is a garment that separates the wearer from the hurly-burly of the world at large.

    In medieval times, in medieval cultures that have survived into the 21st Century, perhaps such a separation made sense. It no longer does.

    With the world economy plunging, with the environment tanking, with senseless violence consuming menfolk who support the wearing of the burka, it doesn’t make sense to wrap up women in supposed cloaks of purity and innocence and confine them to the harems.

    All hands on deck. Unwrap the women and let them join the rest of us in working to make a better world.

  115. 157 Deryck/Trinidad
    July 2, 2009 at 21:54

    @Ramesh, India

    Well Ramesh you just hit the nail on the head which is humans will do almost anything for wealth and power, even conform to rigorous religious practices.

  116. 158 Deryck/Trinidad
    July 2, 2009 at 22:23


    Lisa as a man I would love to go to a country where all the people didn’t wear clothing.

  117. 159 JT (USA)
    July 3, 2009 at 02:47

    @ globalcomedy

    Good question. It depends on the political system the women believe in. It would be a great place to live in if men and women are interdependent and they are equally represented in the political arena.

    If I were to govern a country where the men want the women to wear the burqa, I would make it mandatory for the men to wear it, too.

  118. 160 tanboontee
    July 3, 2009 at 03:11

    Double standards have been part and parcel of mankind ever since the dawn of civilisation. It cuts across every human endeavour. In most cultures such practice would have been taken as a norm.

    Religions are no exceptions. Why pick on Islam? Why should Muslims be guilty of double standards?


  119. 161 Zainab from Iraq
    July 3, 2009 at 06:50

    Salam Alycom all,
    “Is the Islamic world guilty of double standards?”!!!
    First isn’t it wearied!Accusing Islam of double standards, by adopting a double standards policy..
    FRANCE IS A COUNTRY OF FREEDOM. but don’t wear this, and don’t do that, don’t read this and don’t say that… Is this freedom? Criticizing someone while you do the same!!!

    Well anyway above you said :
    Maxine summed up the thoughts of quite a few of you…

    “When I visit Muslim countries I am careful to wear a long dress …they should show the same respect regarding dress as I do when I visit their country.”
    But I don’t think that Muslim women are showing little respect toward her country when they are wearing their modest dress, on the contrary, modest dress is an order in all religions (as I think) so what’s the problem?
    Islam is a religion not a culture. A religion that has rules and orders to its followers to practice. One of them is hijab for women (covering the body except the face and hands). So women who wear hijab are only practicing what they are believing in, they are not following their culture or the style of the new fashion. As about burqa, it is not a must to cover the face but it’s only a personal choice, I mean a women doesn’t want to be shown up to everyone..It’s her choice. No one has the right to interfere with it.

  120. 162 Zainab from Iraq
    July 3, 2009 at 06:59

    Annette in the UK sent us this text: Is it acceptable for me to walk around Mecca in a bikini? if the argument stands up the answer should be yes.
    No of course, the answer should be no.. you know why? beacuse Macca is the holiest place to us (muslims) and when you do that, it means that you want to insult all of us. While If I (for instance) walk in London’s streets wearing hijab or burqa, would I be insulting you or your religion??!!! if yes please just tell me how, and i promise you I WILL STOP IT AT ONCE.

    • 163 RightPaddock
      July 3, 2009 at 10:44

      @Zainab from Iraq & @Annette in the UK

      What do you think would happen if a woman wore a bikini in the Vatican, would the Swiss Guards request that she leave or wear some additional clothes?

      What do you think would happen if that same woman wore a burqa or niqab in the Vatican, would the Swiss Guards request that she leave or remove some clothes?

      Perhaps a BBC reporter could conduct such an experiment and let us know the results – its summer now, so Rome will be warm enough for a bikini to be worn.

      • 164 Aboy calledhate
        July 5, 2009 at 12:25

        I think that would be an interesting experiment, but how about just shorts and t-shirt, I think that would be good enough. Then have the same person in the same cloths go into a muslim church in macca and lets see the the difference in the responce. I think that would be even more interesting.

  121. 165 Zainab from Iraq
    July 3, 2009 at 07:05

    Is President Sarkozy, in trying to ban the burqa, simply redressing the double standards expressed in the Muslim world over dress?

    NO he is simply dressing the double standards expressed in France.
    How?!! Because he is just behaving like Iran and Saudi Arabia: the countries that you are always criticizing for imposing upon women what to wear.

    Notice I just said FRANCE not the whole world, so when you want to talk about something please stop generalizing. Just be direct.

  122. 166 Einar Mostad
    July 3, 2009 at 08:04

    Muslim women living in Europe wanting to cover their face would be better of wearing a niqab than a burqa, since the burqa is so foreign to us westerners and is associated with the oppressive regime of the Taliban, I think. To ban the burqa would not leave muslim women without choice as to wether you want to cover just your hair or also your face.

    The programme covered western muslim women’s freedom of expression when choosing wich type of garment to wear to cover themselves up. I am wondering what would happen if a women in a muslim family in Europe chooses not to cover up at all. Would her freedom of religion (ie the choice not to adhere to any of the demands of islam) be respected? Would she be forced to cover up and still be considered a muslim, even if she expresses a wish to become an atheist, a secular muslim (viewing religion more as a cultural background than an active faith), a christian or a buddhist?

  123. July 3, 2009 at 09:52

    The way to deal with burqas is with scorn, shame, laughter. I think the burqa is a symbol for everything Western democracies reject. My religious tolerance ends when the religious men start telling women how to behave.

    • 168 RightPaddock
      July 3, 2009 at 10:25

      @portlandmike – like the Popes, Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops that mandate women cannot administer the Holy Sacrament, or conduct Baptisms or Weddings or any other priestly duty – i.e. its a closed shop.

      And its not just the Catholic church that I’m referring to, I’ve never seen a female Orthodox priest and no female can even venture a their little toe on Athos’ soil.

      My local Anglican diocese wont allow women ministers to preach in its parish churches let alone its cathedral.

  124. 169 RightPaddock
    July 3, 2009 at 10:13

    Beyond the Burqa and on the broader issue of hypocrisy in the Muslim world, the one that “gets up my nose” is that they blame all their on colonial rule. This attitude isn’t confined to Muslims, although they seem to have contracted a virulent strain of the condition.

    Arabs continually raise the negative consequences of decades of European colonialism, yet they never raise the issue of centuries of Timurid and Ottoman colonisation. Nor do the Arabs ever mention their own colonisation of North Africa and Spain, except to lay claim to Spain – talk about hypocrisy.

    The destruction of Baghdad was started by Genghis Khan in 1258, some Arabs would have you believe it was the Brits that did it in 1920. Baghdad and much else that was worthwhile in the Arab world was destroyed by centuries of oppression by the Timurid and Ottoman empires. The Europeans were no angels, but their Ottoman predecessors were arguably worse and the Timurids almost certainly were.

    But for Gertrude Bell’s efforts prior to 1923 the Baghdadis may not have even had a museum to loot in 2003. In 1898 Kaiser Wilhelm II restored the tomb of Saladin in Damascus. Previously it was in ruin after centuries of neglect by the Ottomans. Incidentally S was a Kurd, perhaps that explains his tomb’s neglect, neither the Turks nor the Arabs seem to be particularly fond of the Kurds.

    Many South Asians, especially Pakistani’s, barely acknowledge the Murghal Empire, the Turkic/Afghan colonial rule of India lasted from 1536 until 1857 (321 years), after which it became a British Colony until 1947 (90 years). I know the Brits were in India for longer than that – but prior to 1857 it was a commercial relationship between the East India Company and the Murghal Empire.

    I just wish the Arabs in particular, and others more generally, would examine their own history in its entirety and stop blaming what happened most recently for the totality of their current condition. We are ALL the products of ALL of our history, not just the bits that happened last week that we happen to prefer as the cause of ALL our troubles this week.

  125. 170 John Pearce
    July 3, 2009 at 11:21

    Having lived in many countries through my childhood, it always seemed our family was accepted as we recognised different standards were to be found in different countries.

    When we last returned to Britain (in early 1966) at the age of 14 I was shocked to hear some of the prejudices expressed by my fellow countrymen. It still upsets me now and I spend many happy hours trying to open “white British” eyes to the different races of the world.

  126. 171 Nigel
    July 3, 2009 at 13:46

    Freedom of expression, freedom of association, freedom of religion we herald. BUT! you can’t wear Hijab or Burqua. Who really is guilty of double standards?

  127. 172 JT (USA)
    July 3, 2009 at 18:08

    @ Nigel

    You’re right–none should force dress code onto another. As a Muslim woman, I believe in moderation. Of course, we all have our own definitions of moderation. I don’t agree with the burqa, niqab, etc. I am curious to learn why some Muslim women wear them.

  128. 173 Bert
    July 4, 2009 at 22:53

    Double standard? Of course, else western women would be seen walking about Ryadh dressed as they are in the West. But never mind that.

    As someone who is put off by any overt, in-your-face demonstrations of religiosity, I find it hard to be sympathetic with this burqa or hijab, or for that matter, any other demonstrations of the wearer’s opinion of his/her own superior spirituality. But there’s more to this.

    In the West, hiding one’s features is a sign of deceipt and intent to do harm. So to me, this is a simple case of cultural clash. Given that Islam doesn’t mandate any of these extreme practices, there is almost no excuse to insist on them. So Nicolas Sarkozy has it about right.

    Of course, if those who practice that religion can’t abide by the customs of their new host culture, they are more than welcome to not join it. And I expect the same of westerners who have ideas of moving to the middle east.

  129. 174 J.Luis
    July 5, 2009 at 09:24

    I believe that in most western countries you can only go wearing a mask that disguises your identity in public during carnival — other than that you can be stoped by the police to be identified and at the very least, pay a fine … wearing a bourka is the same as wearing a mask — how can anyone know who’s under the burka? — is it really a woman?… or a disguised bank robber?… or even a terrorist, carrying explosives, who knows?… Demanding the right to wearing burkas is totally nuts, and only nut politicians will ever allow it!

  130. 175 Aboy calledhate
    July 5, 2009 at 12:16

    Ok, let’s look at this tactically. Playing off Krish comment that “the face is a form of identification” I think it’s dangerous to allow people to where the Burqas. Men could easily dress up in them and pose as women to do all type of criminal things. They also are very baggy and weapons could be hid in them. Wanted people could hid in them making it more difficult to detect them. Bank robbers and other robbers could use them. Male perverts could use them to access area a man would normally not be allowed.
    I just think tactically they are a bad idea.
    As far as the really question of this WHYS question. I’m going to agree with those who have pointed out the fact that in Muslim countries a woman could be arrested, stoned or lashed if dressed in shorts and a t-shirt, something common in western countries. So yes I think they are guilty of having a double standard. Do I think “President Sarkozy, in trying to ban the burqa, simply redressing the double standards expressed in the Muslim world over dress?” I just think the guy is trying to keep his country safe for everyone. I’m stoked to see the French taking a stand and growing some balls on something. That country is a “live and let live” as it gets and if they can see the danger in it then everyone should be able too.

  131. July 5, 2009 at 19:06

    The Islamic world is always guilty of double standards and not only on dress code but many other issues.To start with, I don’t know where in the Quorr’an it is written that women should cover their faces in public. I believe that this particular law was imposed because of jealousy. Arab men do not want other men to see their wives’ faces or their shapes so that they don’t make advances on them. An other double standard is where alcohol is forbidden “Haram”. In some homes, alcohol is consumed secretly most times with fresh milk or coffee. Drugs are not allowed. Alcohol and drugs are illegal but can be brought in as a diplomatic baggage and sold to consumers. They can wage a war they call Jihad against the west which we call terrorism, as a proxy for Israel’s occupation of Palestine. Yet, they will come to the west for business and even allow the west to use their countries as a lunching pad against one Arab nation. The list goes on and on and on. I am not sure their wives loves them that much especially with those arrange marriages and their wickedness, so the best way to leave the women without alternatives is to impose strict dress code that would not allow them to be seen by other men who could easily influence them.

  132. 177 Nick - Nairobi
    July 5, 2009 at 22:22

    Islamic nations like Iran and KSA have modelled their freedoms along the Holy Koran. If a westerner visits such countries he/she is expected to follow the rules and laws of the land.Even alcohol is forbidden in very strict regimes.

    Western countries have freedoms where one can wear whatever they want as long as its not offensive to the general public and is accepted socially. Why is it now an issue when a Muslim moves to a country that is modeled along these freedoms they cannot wear what they have known since birth???

    I dont think its an issue of double standard.Its simple misunderstanding and non-tolerance of one another’s beliefs.

    • 178 kuwaitmirage
      July 6, 2009 at 14:59

      I’d like to ask, if a native of the Amazon decided he wanted to wear a thong revealing his buttocks and walk through Mayfair or down the Champs Elysees, what would the response be?

  133. 179 kuwaitmirage
    July 6, 2009 at 13:23

    If a Christian sect in France decided to wear long stripey pink and purple sheets from head to toe, there wouldn’t be a problem.Or if Chanel brought out a head to toe balaclava for their winter season in off white and midnight blue, I suppose Vogue would do a feature……

    Krish- In a world where your face is your identity what does the faceless man do?

    Why does everyone get so worked up about women COVERING flesh? I choose only to wear a hijab- that is my interpretation of Islam. In my experience the women here in Kuwait who ‘cover up’ completely ( niqab) CHOOSE to do hat too, through their interpretation of Sunnah and through tradition ( perhaps their mothers did before them ).

    My sister in law is one of these women and she is anything but ”oppressed” LOL……she doesn’t have to work ( through HER choice), sleeps late , prays, brings up her kids, goes shopping,does a bit of cooking and CHOOSES to cover up as her sisters and mother do. She is a very small but vocal lady and will not suffer fools easily.

    What continues to amuse me, is that many of the people who make judgements about the veil / niqab/ burqa have neither spoken to the women who wear them, nor lived in the culture or studied the religion.

    If we Muslim women tomorrow chose to wear bikinis to go shopping, I suppose there wouldn’t be a problem.
    It’s all ridiculous really.

  134. 180 T for terrorist
    July 6, 2009 at 14:23

    I’m Muslim and I believe non-Muslims should be able to wear what ever they want in Muslim countries (caveat: property rights an exception) – it probably is a cultural attitude of hypocrisy as opposed to a theological one – after all non-Muslims have different epistemological foundation in ethics.

    Why stop there ? What about de facto relationships, alcohol consumption ect.
    They probably go under the radar.

    However this isn’t tacit approval for Muslims to indulge.

    Judaism flourished in Moorish Spain where their traditions and culture were preserved – no pogroms.

    Personally I think the cultural attitude on this is probably based on a resistance to modernity. I think Muslim are capable of adapting to modernity, taking the positives of modernity that compliment their faith and shunning those that are inconsistent.

    It really isn’t that hard, unless you’ve got a chip on your shoulder.

    By the same token non-Muslims should respect our decisions after we have grappled with modernity as opposed to being a ‘liberal extremist’ and not be able to accept our decisions.

  135. 181 john in german
    July 6, 2009 at 16:07

    Whats all that about nuns.
    Nuns belong to a religious order, and the clothes they wear are part of this order. Islamic women are not a part of a religious order but belong to a religion, as people. or congregation.

    As far as i can see in many cases they are forced to wear the burga by their menfolk.. which as far as i can see, is a very unhealthy clothing for the very hot climates where they live. So not only are they made to suffer as woman, but also made to suffer because they are women. One should respect those that wish to wear it, but in their own Countries, or in the home. Why should we tolerate this type of clothing in our country? And why should we be dictated to as to what we should accept in our environment.
    John in Germany.

  136. 182 NSC London
    July 6, 2009 at 16:44

    This discussion around the veil seems to be bit of a red herring… is the real issue perhaps much broader? Are we really asking “Is Islam compatible with Western civilisation?” Some would argue that the fundamental tenets of Western civilisation are:

    Separation of church and state
    Freedom of speech
    Racial and gender equality (increasingly adopting equality for gays as well)
    Freedom of commerce

    How does Islam compare with the above?

    Separation of church and state – Incompatible. (Islam calls for Sharia law, there are 85 sharia courts operating in the UK today.)

    Democracy – Incompatible. (Islam appears to demand rule by clerics.)

    Freedom of speech – Incompatible. (Islam will not tolerate criticism and this is often punishable by death.)

    Racial & Gender equality – Incompatible. (The Koran sanctions the killing of unbelievers and particularly Jews. Islam’s stance on women is obviously well known and very ugly.)

    Freedom of commerce – Incompatible. (Usury-free banking inhibits free trade. Not to mention Islam’s call for jizya, taxation on non-believers for privilege of not being murdered for refusing to convert.)

    Islam and Western civilisation are simply compatible. But, the west has also failed to respect non-western societies, often making the grave (and rather colonialist) mistake of assuming that Western values form some sort of universal culture that should be force fed to the rest of the world for their own good.

    Unfortunately, it is too late to block the flood of Muslim immigration to the West; but, it is not too late to abandon the political correctness that is preventing authentic dialogue on this topic from flourishing.

  137. 183 greatjangistan
    July 7, 2009 at 06:33

    The West are predominently christian countries (let the catholics and the evengelicals slut it out themselves.

    These muslims in Europe or America are rich or brighter blokes looking for a better life. Actually there are very few who wants to bring the religion, cultures and lifestyles into their host countries.Even on these conditions, can the West accept them??

    Examples: Benizir Bhuttto was have a great life in London , shopping at Harrods daily and partying away thru the night until Pre. Bush and his call for democracy and a US$30 billion for the fight against terrorisium , made her changed her mind and called hubby in Dubai for the 2nd or 3rd creaming .

    Even Junior’s surname was changed for that specific purpose and taught to pray with palms up to gain more votes. A 19 year old uni student to lead her political party and Pakistan? What rubbish. Pakistan have to wake up from this nightmare.

    As always in 3rd world countries, a very small group of people is manipulating the masses.

  138. 184 wendymann
    July 7, 2009 at 11:28

    interestingly research indicates that people are more susceptible to being deceived if they can view the face of the person they are speaking to rather than if they are only listening to a person and cannot view the face.
    as for security, it is a non issue , one cannot determine the nature of the person solely through the way they look, and a terrorist will seek any way possible to commit their crimes regardless of any dress code.

    btw when in rome do as the romans .. the romans came to the uk and made the uk population behave like romans.

  139. 185 wendymann
    July 7, 2009 at 11:36

    if western values are so great why do we in the west have to force others into taking our cultures. in fact we are in iraq and afghansitan trying to kill anyone who disagrees with our values.

    “Well put Chrissie, I agree. Also i don’t like the idea that because we “western” women show our hair and face, sometimes arms and legs when we dress then are immodest, or to put it their way “whores”

    i think this is the real issue, the fact that being naked or semi naked, flaunting all ones wares to all and sundry is in fact ‘whorish’ behaviour demanded by western men and society whilst islam , the burqa in fact makes that stark statement which some women just dont want to acknowledge but know it to be true.

    in truth we women in the west are in denial because our society has mind washed us into accepting the predilections and desires of men above any sense of self respect and dignity.

  140. 186 wendymann
    July 7, 2009 at 11:43

    “Islam is all about hypocracy, oppressiona, dicatorship and backwardness!”

    that also pretty much sums up the west too. think about it.

  141. 187 wendymann
    July 7, 2009 at 13:21

    “The way to deal with burqas is with scorn, shame, laughter. I think the burqa is a symbol for everything Western democracies reject. My religious tolerance ends when the religious men start telling women how to behave.”

    though it appears your religious tolerance does not end when non religious men tell women that the way they dress is to be looked upon with scorn shame and laughter?

  142. 188 patrick Odadi
    July 8, 2009 at 10:07

    The west or continetal Europe and canada And USA have no right to dertmine what the Muslims women wear ,largly the one who are pushing the debate or against or uncomfortqble with what women in the muslims wear, everyreligion have their wqy of wearing zhich embeded in their own sqcred history and hqve profound meqning to that group and nobody has the rihgt qnd knowledge base especially outside that religion to satire
    This kind of debate always originates from the west, while the world is constanly looking for peace and to reconcile the already strange relationship of Muslim with the west, we are constantly creqting more tenstion in the name of press freddom and freedom of express, what right de we hqve to interpret the wearing of burga in the manner we interpret, actuqlly most of us are not even from that religious backgrouns

  143. 189 cugel
    July 9, 2009 at 16:45

    Is the Islamic world world guilty of double standards? 186 people before me have tried to answer that question.
    I think there is a cultural war on. After the cold war we could predict the winner by looking at how people voted with their feet. People were fleeing the communist world for the freedom of the west.
    Just like then, you see that now many are fleeing the islamic countries. Compared to that number the number of people who voluntarily live in an islamic country is a lot smaller.
    S I think islamic militants are fighting a lost battle. It is a pity that they are making so many victims in the process. The world has huge problems. Islam in these last few decades is hindering rather than helping the world to progress.
    If Islam cannot return to former greatness ie tolerance, it is right that civilised people try to combat this backward creed.

  144. 190 Vijay
    July 9, 2009 at 17:25

    Is the Islamic world guilty of double standards?

    An interpretation of why the wearing of religious dress amongst muslim women in west has take off,could be,that it is a response to inequality.
    That is,increasing inequality between muslims and the host population and also within the muslim community.
    The lower class,lower caste,poorer people try to be more pious than their richer neighbours,they cultivate a holier than thou attitude,practice religious one upmanship.They opine that while so and so might be doing quite well it is a shame they are not as virtious ,righteous or pious as themselves because they don’t follow practice x,y or zed.

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