mid day editorial: Have the courage to ask the uncomfortable question

Published: May 08, 2019, 07:05 IST | mid-day online desk | Mumbai

Raut said this was driven primarily by security concerns

The burqa ban debate has picked up steam in the country. The immediate trigger for this is Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut's recent editorial in the Shiv Sena mouthpiece Saamna. Raut said that Sri Lanka has banned face coverings and it was time for India to follow suit. Raut said this was driven primarily by security concerns.

Now, the head of a Kerala-based Muslim education group has been threatened because he has cited in a circular that women students should not cover their faces. It is time to look at the burqa ban for what it is -- it is a ban for face coverings, and in fact all camouflages for the visage in public places. Muslim women who wear the niqab (face veil) will fall under the ambit of this ban. Several countries in Europe have banned the face veil.

A section of persons have stated that banning the burqa will not stop terrorism. That is not the point. The face covering ban is to ensure recognition. When a person is allowed to conceal their face, it makes identification difficult in case a crime has occurred.

The Islamic community and others have to see the ban through the proper prism. It has been enforced in certain countries because of security. It is not about targeting individuals or a community; do not fall prey to politicians screeching from pulpits with their attempts to polarise. There is no harm in having a debate. Conversations help open minds. We need to have the intellectual courage to ask the uncomfortable question. We need to have a conversation that can get some squirming, riled or outraged. You may not agree, but you can allow and encourage the Socratic gadfly mindset. The same persons who shout about the current political dispensation shutting down dissent or free speech cannot shut down this debate themselves.

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