Banning burqa as security measure? What do experts think?

A ban on wearing burqa is among security, anti-terrorism measures discussed in Germany after series of attacks. The Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière will not support this though he reject the burqa. What would be your opinion, may burqa ban somehow contribute to fighting terrorism or maybe not much, and why? Read few comments.

Veryan Khan, Editorial Director, Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium (TRAC)

Burka banning is a catch 22 for security services. Obviously, having a person completely shrouded head to toe shielding not only the way they look but also what might be under the garment, is a major security concern for local law enforcement. However, complete bans on a cultural and religious dress, are perceived to be heavy handed, unjustified, and racist by those whom it effects.

Continuing on this line of thought, banning the burka is a catch 22 in terms of usefulness in terrorism prevention. On the one hand, its essential to know what people look like to prevent terrorism and perhaps exposure of ones identity (by uncovering the face) may even be a deterrent for attacks. On the other hand, complete banning will feel like even further persecution to Muslims who wish to wear the burka and certainly those who are much more radical will take a ban to persuade others to feel justified in treason.

Nathaniel Barr, Research ManagerValens, Global LLC

My understanding is that the security benefits gained from banning the burka are quite minimal. I’m aware of two instances in Europe (here and here) in which suspected jihadists wore burkas to escape surveillance. Both of the incidents took place in the UK. There may be others as well, but these are the only I know of. Thus, the security benefits gained from banning burkas are likely to be limited. On the other hand, banning the burka provides powerful propaganda material to jihadist groups who seek to advance the clash of civilizations narrative, and attempt to portray Western states as being hostile to Islam as a religion. Banning the burka may also marginalize Muslim communities residing in Germany, who feel that they are being targeted and persecuted.

J.M. Berger, Fellow, Program on Extremism, George Washington University, Associate Fellow, International Centre for Counter-Terrorism, The Hague, Co-author of ISIS: The State of Terror

I think a burka ban is a pointless act of discrimination that does absolutely nothing to fight terrorism. It caters to people’s bigotry and only increases divisions in a society. France has had one for five years, and look how much safer they are today.

Mathieu GuidèreWriter, Professor, University of Paris

Germany is not the first country to discuss banning burka, France has ban Burka in 2010. Six years later, the French experience shows that this ban did not improve security in France, it only increased Islamophobia and the feeling that Muslims are under scrutiny more than any other religion.

Steve Hewitt, Senior Lecturer in American and Canadian Studies, University of Birmingham

A ban on the burka would be completely counter productive in terms of fighting terrorism but also at encouraging integration. In terms of the former, alienation is a key problem in western societies in that some citizens do not feel they belong. Islamic State and others play upon this repeatedly. So an attack on a cultural practice (that only a small number of women pursue anyway) plays directly into the narrative of not belonging and being outsiders. It may satisfy some in the public, media, and politics, but it is stupid counter-terrorism policy.

James M. DorseySenior Fellow, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University

A ban would raise serious questions including what business of the state it is to dictate people’s dress as long as they do not violate long-standing codes of exhibitionism and nudity. Moreover, a ban is likely to prove divisive rather than constructing widening the wedge between segments of the population. It de facto equates observance of religious belief with terrorism in circumstances in which the Muslim community already feels on the defensive, discriminated against, disenfranchised and being subject to collective punishments for the actions of individuals.


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