Pew Research Center: Most Western Europeans favor at least some restrictions on Muslim women’s religious clothing

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Veiled women take part in a demonstration against the veil ban on August 1, 2018, the first day of the implementation of the Danish face veil ban, in Copenhagen, Denmark. – Denmark’s controversial ban on the Islamic full-face veil in public spaces came into force as women protested the new measure which fines anyone wearing the garment. Human rights campaigners have slammed the ban as a violation of women’s rights, while supporters argue it enables better integration of Muslim immigrants into Danish society. (Photo by Mads Claus Rasmussen / Ritzau Scanpix / AFP) / Denmark OUT (Photo credit should read MADS CLAUS RASMUSSEN/AFP/Getty Images)

Swiss voters on Sunday approved a ban on the public wearing of certain face coverings, including burqas and niqabs, making it the latest European country to pass such restrictions. Denmark, Austria, Belgium and France are among the countries that have enacted similar laws in recent years. In 2017, a Pew Research Center survey found that most Western Europeans favor some restrictions on Muslim women’s religious clothing. In Switzerland at the time, 79% of non-Muslims said that Muslim women who live in their country should be subject to at least some restrictions, including 56% who said Muslim women should be allowed to wear religious clothing as long as it does not cover their face.

In addition, a Pew Research Center analysis of religious restrictions in 198 countries found that in 2018, women in 61 countries faced government regulations on religious head coverings. Of the five regions in the study, Europe had the most countries where women’s headdress was regulated by authorities, with instances in 21 of 45 countries. In some other parts of the world, rather than banning certain types of religious dress, some countries require them. In Iran, for example, the government requires all women to adhere to “Islamic dress” standards in public, including covering their hair and bodies in loose clothing. 

Suggested Reading by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times:

Three Hijabis: The Three Muslim Women, Who Received Nobel Prize

Hijab: Quran is to be Understood in the Context of Time – Every One Knows It But Does Not Say It

Austria’s compliment in disguise to Islam: Headscarf ban in primary schools

French PM Manuel Valls wants to ban Muslim Hijab. Has he ever seen Mother Mary’s picture?

Hijab By Choice versus Hijab by Coercion?

Mother Mary is always with a Hijab in artist’s imagination. Has the PM of France ever seen her picture or portrait?

9 replies

  1. but anyway, for those initiating the burka ban in Switzerland it was all about gaining votes for the right wing party, no one cared for the Muslim ladies supposed to be forced to wear the burka really.

  2. The above painting is hardly a true image of the Mother Mary, who would have been a typical Middle Eastern woman in traditional dress, which included a head covering. There are images of European Christian women with similar head coverings in the Middle Ages, but dress has changed over the course of time, and most of the world now wears modern dress. Life is constantly changing, and that is how it has always been, except in the Muslim world. Hiding hair in the Muslim fashion is an ancient tradition, going back to a time when women were the property of men. We have moved on. There is no logical reason why all women cannot wear the dress of their fellow women in the country they reside in. Modesty is possible. It’s all about fitting into the society one has chosen to join instead of creating apartheid.

    • I cannot simply understand why European countries including the USA, have such a one-track view of women’s clothing?!

      Since, they shout from their rooftops about ‘freedom’, why cannot they understand that Muslim women and anyone else for that matter should have the freedom to wear what they like.

      Nobody cites hijab wearing Muslim women whether they are being forced to do so. The Western public and media never thinks of asking them and what their personal wishes are. In fact, I don’t believe that there are any hijab/niqab wearing women out there who have voiced an objection to what they wear.

      After all, they are now living in so-called free countries, and they can always do so if they are being forced to cover-up. Therefore, what right does anyone have to ‘read’ their minds that they need to be ‘freed’ from their dress-code?

      What is it about Muslim women’s clothing that irks these people?

      Have they ever opened their minds enough to think how other non-western countries manage? In my country, Muslim women are dressed in all degrees of covering without any problems and are very tolerated, Alhamdulillah. I live in a very multi-cultural and multilingual society.

      Oh, we also tolerate the western visitors who go around half naked (according to us), along our roads and beaches. The ONLY thing they are NOT allowed to do is move around in the ‘birthday’ suits!

      Therefore, I think since western countries are slowly going the same way, it is high time for them to tolerate all the surrounding differences.

      • AND the politicians misuse this topic to catch votes. That’s all. Religion has always been misused for political purposes, and so has the dress code, it seems.

  3. If I had gone to live in a Muslim country (or any other for that matter), it would have been expected of me to adjust to that country’s lifestyle. It’s a natural phenomenon. I was told that I would not be accepted in my husband’s country because I would be an outsider, and they weren’t particularly keen on my husband marrying out. Anyway, we have to comply with the mode of dress of most Muslim countries, such as Iran and Saudi, some are more relaxed, although it is evident that most are becoming stricter about dress for women. Those arriving in non-Muslim countries should adjust to their new country, not install their whole culture on that country, and many do just that, especially when they live in their own areas. I live in a multi-racial big city, all fit in, regardless of colour, which is usually the dominating feature, but it has been a slow journey. In rural areas it is somewhat different, because not many outsiders have yet reached there. I would not feel comfortable living in an area dominated by shrouded women (or any other group of people with different traditions for that matter), who are definite outsiders and will remain so. That’s just how it is, and change takes time. This topic has been spoken of many times, and no doubt will continue to be a cause for discussion.

    • True, this topic is a perennial discussion point, and I find westerners the most intolerant of other cultures!

      Everytime this matter of women’s dress comes up, people bring the example of Iran and Saudi Arabia, etc., but these countries do not claim to practice ‘freedom’ of everything like the West does, yet do not really put it into practical use when it comes to Muslim women.

      If these women were to go around half naked, then, nobody would have an objection….!!!

      If, as you say, you’d feel uncomfortable in the presence of nikabed women, then I suggest that you engage them in conversation and get to know them better rather than let your imagination take over….. you might discover interesting things.

  4. I find it interesting that Muslim men defend hijab not Muslim women. Ofcourse there will be Muslim women who will defend hijab as there are always extreme interpretations of any religion.
    I think we and the westerners are all against oppression whether it is in the name of religion or otherwise.
    If the oppressed cannot speak because they live in the same household as the oppressors, someone should help.

    • I aree that when ladies talk against hijab and burka ban it is much more valuable than when men say so…

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