Pictures of Muslims Wearing Things

A splendid new Tumblog of Greatness dedicated to MUSLIMS DRESSED IN THEIR GARBS.

Former NPR analyst Juan Williams, among other ignorant people, has an irrational fear of Muslims, and thinks you can identify them based on what they look like. Here I will post pictures of Muslims wearing all sorts of things in an attempt to refute that there is such a thing as "Muslim garb" or a Muslim look.
Above: "Like the king of Jordan, actor Alexander Siddig is also fond of Muslim Star Trek garb."

Pictures of Muslims Wearing Things.
(via Peter Kirn)


  1. To be fair to Juan Williams, his position was quite a bit more nuanced and thoughtful than your “irrational and ignorant” smear makes it sound.

    A lot of people are vaguely suspicious of muslims in airport settings. Is that really irrational, given recent statistics regarding muslims trying to blow up airplanes?

    1. A lot of people are vaguely suspicious of muslims in airport settings.

      A lot of people are in denial about their bigotry.

      And do tell, out of the three or four nutcases who comprise your “recent statistics”, how many were wearing “Muslim garb”? (Hint: Zero to none)

    2. i assume you’re saying this without irony…

      “A lot of people are vaguely suspicious of muslims in airport settings. Is that really irrational, given recent statistics regarding muslims trying to blow up airplanes?”

      …which makes me want to cry.

    3. Can you provide these recent statistics to which you refer?

      But even if you have statistics showing that the percentage of people who are trying to blow up or hijack planes was mostly Islamic, it would still be looking at the wrong statistics. What percentage of the Islamic population of the world is trying to blow up airplanes?

      Also, how many of the Islamic terrorists who actually attempt such terrorist attacks on airplanes have succeeded?

      BoingBoing had an article last year about how the chances being a victim of airline terrorism is 1 in 10,408,947:

      So yeah, it is statistically irrational to be suspicious of Muslims in airport settings.

    4. xadie said: “A lot of people are vaguely suspicious of muslims in airport settings. Is that really irrational, given recent statistics regarding muslims trying to blow up airplanes?”

      Yes it is, because those statistics demonstrate that 99.9% of Muslim flyers are not trying to blow up planes.

      Thus, based on the numbers, it is an irrational fear.

    5. Like Sagodjur and Hassenpfeffer, I am curious about these “recent statistics.”

      Joseph Stack was a middle aged white male American. But I assume you would agree that it would be “irrational and ignorant” for someone to be fearful every time a white guy got in a Piper.

      That said, I agree with the basic point that Juan William’s position was more nuanced. It’s just that rebdav explained it much better when he pointed out that Williams “also said it is important to guard against basing policy on gut fears like he just admitted to having.”

      The point is that even Juan Williams thinks that the fear is irrational. So despite stemming from a well intentioned defense of Willams, I think that your defense of irrational and ignorant fear is misplaced.

    6. All of the people that were involved in the terrorist attacks with airplanes were trying to NOT look Muslim by wearing “ordinary” clothes. It’s the people in ordinary clothes that *I* fear! In fact, the only thing I’m able to do lately is cower in a dark corner of my house and vote Republican by mail.

    7. “To be fair to Juan Williams, his position was quite a bit more nuanced and thoughtful than your “irrational and ignorant” smear makes it sound.”

      Bullshit, it was not. He’s made a separate career out of being the “even the left-wing NPR employee agrees” guy on Fox. He says these things, but does not provide context.

      1. Williams did provide context. Read the entire transcript.

        Sheesh, if we can’t have a candid conversation about Muslims, where are we heading? Driving the conversation underground doesn’t make it disappear. In fact, quite the opposite. There are a lot of moderates out there who heard his comments and said to themselves, “me too”. Now they are feeling insulted. They’re sick of walking on eggshells around this, and other politically correct issues. Why can’t we have an honest conversation?

        You’ll get nowhere by insulting Williams and others who are merely being candid. Only a brainwashed leftist would read Williams’ comment and call him an Islamophobe. As an aside, he wasn’t fired for his comments, he was fired for daring to appear on Fox.

        1. As an aside, he wasn’t fired for his comments, he was fired for daring to appear on Fox.

          Only a brainwashed rightist could believe that. He’s been appearing on Fox for years. He said things that compromised his (appearance of) objectivity, which violated his contract with NPR. Whether you think that contract was reasonable or not, he signed it, and then violated it.

        2. No, Norman. He was fired for not remaining impartial. That’s called journalism, something that NPR, unlike most other media today, still upholds.

    8. No, xadie, it’s not.

      The group from which the greatest threat of terrorist attack in the continental United States comes from is white caucasian male gun owners.

      1. It’s one thing to admit to an irrational belief, it’s another thing entirely to justify it.

        Amen! That may be the single sanest statement that has been made in a BB comment this month. As far as I’m concerned, you win the thread.

    9. “A lot of people are vaguely suspicious of muslims in airport settings. Is that really irrational, given recent statistics regarding muslims trying to blow up airplanes?”

      FACT: 99.99999999% of Muslims don’t try to blow up planes. Off the Muslims and others who do try to blow up planes, roughly 100% try to dress non-suspiciously. So, yes, his reaction is by definition irrational. It might be understandable — a lot of ugly stereotypes are understandable — but advertising your baser suspicions prefaced by “I’m not a bigot, but” is a dick thing to do.

    10. Re: “Is that really irrational, given recent statistics regarding muslims trying to blow up airplanes?”

      Hm. Well, let’s explore this in more detail and see whether that’s “irrational” or not.

      According to this link: there are 1.5 billion Muslims in the world. Of those, 19 were identified by the FBI as being involved in the 9/11 attacks. I can’t say how many “tried” to blow up airplanes in the years since, but let’s assume that twice that number have attempted, every year since, to blow up an airplane. That would be a total of 380, which would be 0.000025% of all Muslims. Is it “irrational” to be “vaguely suspicious” of Muslims, given those statistics? You tell me.

    11. there have been more violent acts recently committed by fox news inspired white right wing nutjobs than muslims. in europe for example, there were around 300 terrorist attacks in 2009. out of that, 1 was by a “muslim”, the rest were separatists such as ETA. hype.

  2. Nice. Especially the line ups of people praying in great variety.

    But I bet nobody would wear the “Frisk Me I’m Muslim” T-shirt to the airport.

  3. That is a flattering picture of Dr Behsir, that character, like most of the characters on that show, was amazing, and really had depth, and changed from the first season to the last.
    It contrasts sharply with the other trek show that was on.

  4. I didn’t like it when Siddig Al Fidel went back to using “Alexander.” It’s too ordinary and he’s an extraordinary actor.

  5. Of course Alexander Siddig used to be credited as “Siddig el Fadil” on DS9, but I was surprised to find (on IMDB) that his full name was Siddig El Tahir El Fadil El Siddig Abderahman Mohammed Ahmed Abdel Karim El Mahdi.

    1. Yes, because all Lebanese are Muslims. I don’t think you consciously meant to replicate Juan’s bigotry, but you did. I see this form of racism often. People interchangeably using the word “Arab” or in your case “Lebanese” as Muslim. Its really bothersome/angering to see. So, to answer your question, Kasem is a Druze from Lebanon, and Thomas is an Orthodox Christian. Please at least attempt to acknowledge the Middle East as a diverse place instead of stratifying just as much as the extreme right.

          1. T1000 is not simply a machine. T1000 is “a nanomorph mimetic poly-alloy (liquid metal) assassin.”**

            **Wikipedia is amazing.

            T1000 is a “machine,” but not all machines are T1000. Arabs can be Muslims, but not all Arabs are Muslim.


    2. With almost 40% of population being Christian, it’s not right to assume all the Lebanese are Muslims. Helen Thomas is Greek Orthodox.

  6. More to the point, is there any proof that Sid’s a Muslim? He’s certainly played quite a few, and has occasionally spoken on behalf of Middle Eastern people in general (as he did post-9/11), but I’ve never heard that he was actually religious.

    1. It looks like he may be a Muslim, though it’s not widely published (i.e. it’s not stated in his Wikipedia or IMDB entries).

      I found an article online called “Alexander Siddig: Living Without Borders” By Amanda Broadfoot, where he’s quoted as saying, “I’m someone who didn’t even discover that I was Muslim until I was in my late-thirties,” and “I didn’t know that I was Muslim by default because my father was Muslim. I’d read books – religion, philosophy, psychology – and those two small wires never connected in my brain. And then it dawned on me that I was.”


  7. @xadie As an Atheist, all these religious whackos make me uneasy, whether it’s Bin Laden or Billy Graham, but when Dr. George Tiller was assassinated, we didn’t round up Billy Graham and Randall Terry and whisk them off to GITMO for a weekend of car battery on testicle action because they are also Christians. What makes us Americans is that we DON’T just round up and exterminate groups like the KKK, The Neo-Nazis, Operation Rescue, The Hells Angels, The 700 Club, or any of these collections of fucked up assholes who hold back progress, no matter how many people THEY directly or indirectly kill with their fetid bullshit. There are A LOT more people with AIDS in this country than there are card carrying members of the Klan, but you don’t see them marching in the streets with guns or shooting up NASCAR races, because they are terminally ill and having nothing to lose.

    Anyway, one thing you should understand if you understand nothing else, Bin Laden and Bush were ON THE SAME SIDE. The side of the rich, the side of war for profit and power above all else. All Bush had to do was nothing, because that’s all the coked-up moron is capable of doing. Just sit back as people die and let the money start rolling in for himself and his supporters. 9/11 was STONE AGE TECHNOLOGY, hit something with a big enough rock and it will fall over. All they needed was 19 dumb asses to swipe the planes and 1 dumb ass in DC to make sure we did nothing to prevent it. The bigger problem is the 59,000,000 dumb asses who re-elected Bush in 2004, but again, we’re not rounding them up for “evacuation,” because we know they were lied to and scared into voting against their own best interests.

    1. That’s great. Those atheist whackos make us religious people nervous when they kill and torture people for fun and profit (as David Waters did to Madalyn O’Hair, her son Jon Murray, and her granddaughter Robin Murray O’Hair or as Stalin did to millions of his own countrymen).

      Your predjudices are appalling, repulsive and unbecoming. Calling Billy Graham a whacko is akin to calling the Dali Lama or Mohandas Ghandi a whacko. All of them are/were men of peace who never advocated violence against others.

      The act of degrading people of any kind because they’re different then you, or choose to think differently, is horrible regardless of which side you’re coming from and makes you an in tolerant bigot.

  8. Xeni, I usually like what you have to say, but Peter Kim took a story and much like the wealthy well educated white people of NPR only heard the start of a comment and ran with the snippet, . Juan Williams candidly admitted he had felt fear inside himself when seeing Arabs dressed in traditional middle eastern garb. He also said it is important to guard against basing policy on gut fears like he just admitted to having.
    Lets throw out the scarlet letters and maybe support people actually admitting to their failings and showing how they successfully fight their internal demons.
    NPR was where my radio was tuned when I lived in the US because it did treat the listener like an intelligent entity, but it must be admitted that much like the bias in Galileos day there is a leftish university culture bias that pervades the NPR reporting. Any orthodoxy which stifles honest speech in the name of political correctness even if you happen to agree with the bias it still intellectually dishonest.
    Juan Williams is a civil rights author and activist in addition to his Journalism and hardly a ignorant person.

    Back to the story though, it is weird seeing King Hussein on ST Voyager.

    1. NPR only looks leftist in comparison to the right wing swing the rest of the media has taken. They’re pretty damn middle of the road.

  9. I abhor what Williams said. But saying that there is no such thing as Muslim garb? Then what the hell are they selling at those stores near the mosques on Atlantic Ave. and Fulton/Bedford in Brooklyn?
    Islamic garb, as in, garb promoted by Muslims seeking to wear the nost Islamic clothing, will not be tight fitting, features headgear of some sort, frequently does not have a belt at the waist, uses geometric symbols as part of the flair, etc.
    Of course Muslims wear anything they like. But even Muslims know what ‘Muslim garb’ looks like.

    1. You’re generalizing. Yes, there’s a connotation of “what Muslims wear,” but not all Muslims wear traditional “Muslim garb” and not everyone who wears “Muslim garb” is Muslim. Ever see female European newscasters report from Islamic countries? Sometimes they’re wearing the “Muslim garb.” I’ve met a female chemo-patient who wore a hijab in the traditional style and she wasn’t Muslim.

      It’s like saying someone is “dressing black” in the US. Styles that may be perceived as originating in a culture that may be perceived as ethnically or religiously specific are not always limited to that culture/ethnicity/religion. The term may be intended for ease of communication, but it is not necessarily accurate.

  10. And black people make me nervous on public transportation.
    And that jewish guy at the bank is probably ripping me off.
    Who knows what that chinese guy put in my fried rice!

    In a land were something like 99.9% of the serial killers are white guys, you still fear the other.

    1. “In a land were something like 99.9% of the serial killers are white guys…”

      Way to fight irrational racial prejudice based on ignorance! Make up a false claim attached to an invented statistic that makes a blanket statement about a different race! Ignorance forever!

      1. well said. Any quick google of the subject will show you that serial killers come in all stripes.

  11. Wouldn’t a person be equally vilified for saying “Every time I see a black man walk into a liquor store/etc” or “Whenever I see a white guy buying fertilizer in an unmarked van” EVEN IF THEY PUT STATISTICS BEHIND IT?

    What is to be said for anyone else admitting their fear of something that is based on prejudice? Would the same people come running to their aid?

    What an odd way to try to say something insightful and meaningful while on Fox News in a hyper real, buzz word, sound clip, blah blah, world…

    1. If I’m not mistaken, this is the traditional Muslim garb of lazy sufis… I could be wrong.

      This blog is brilliant.

  12. I’ve always wondered why Siddig el Fadil chose to adopt the stage name “Alexander Siddig” after he had already become somewhat well-known on DS9. Lots of actors adopt stage names to help advance their careers. (After all, would Ramón Antonio Gerard Estévez ever have been chosen to play the President of the United States on The West Wing had he acted under his real name?) But it seems a bit odd to adopt a stage name after you’ve already “made it” in show business under your real name.

  13. Of course, Siddig also played a prince of Fake-Saudi-Arabia in Syriana, and a terrorist (well, reformed terrorist, anyway) in 24. So he’s not exactly immune to that type of casting.

  14. Oh great, so now I have to be terrified of everyone with a dark complexion, no matter what they’re wearing, just in case they’re Muslim. Except naked people, I guess – I didn’t see any pictures of anyone in Muslim birthday garb.

    That’s it, I’m just not coming out of the sauna, I should be safe in here.

  15. If the bombers on 911 had been wearing parkas or cowboy chaps you can be sure that the scrutiny would be on people wearing parkas or cowboy chaps. That would be particularly hard on the Domestic Oil Industry as there are an eztrordinary number of Texans working in the Oil Industry in Alaska. So the next time you see a cowboy in chaps wearing a Parka you too may look twice and consider letting the authorities know your not feeling right about this guy. It might be just as silly to think that as it is to suspect a person who looks ??? Middle eastern? Heck, that’s half the world isn’t it? We have to trust the carrier to make all the correct decisions in this matter. Beside your pilot is more likely to be drunk and crash the plane right?

    1. Only that the 9/11 bombers did NOT wear “muslim” clothes. They were dressed as western nobodies. No robes or turbans. Also there is no “muslim uniform”. What you call muslim garb is used by a small percentage of muslims. You don’t call low waist jeans and jordans “black garb” or 3 piece suits “christian garb” do you?

      For example Turks are muslims but they dress nothing like the Arabs. Albanians are muslim and they don’t even use the headscarf. Try distinguishing an indian muslim from a hindi based on clothes alone. The kefiyeh (palestinian scarf)is a must for every teen hipster all over Europe regardless of religion.

      So it is about skin colour after all, the clothes are just an excuse to be racist.

    1. xadie’s more than a troll, quite likely, a paid troll. Not seeing BB posts by this guy on any other subject. Paid, I’m sure.

      Notice how lately the neocon/teaparty sympathetic posts are popping up more and more? Places you hardly ever used to see them? That is not a coincidence. These people are paid to go on message boards and to call in to radio shows and repeat the propaganda over and over and over again. They hijack threads and clog the airwaves with the right wing message. And they’re whores, the lot of them. It is an evil thing to do, to undermine democracy and decency for money. Ugly.

      And we have to call it when we see it. Because the bad guys are not satisfied with buying the media and the courts and everything else they can get their filthy mitts on, they want to buy the space of public discourse. They’ve won so much. They are very bold.

      Call them out. Slap them down.

  16. Feeling anxious around people in “traditional Muslim garb” is irrational. I agree with that. What I don’t agree with is that admitting that he feels that way (and admitting it’s irrational!) is such a huge deal that he should be fired from his job and mocked on boingboing. There isn’t anywhere near this kind of reaction when somebody makes an equivalent comment about Christians.

  17. Alexander Siddig is awesome! He’s such a good actor. I didn’t know him from Star Trek b/c I don’t watch it- I first saw him in Kingdom of Heaven. Anyways… his bio is pretty cool too.

    People need to get over their irrational fears of others. You’re letting terrorism win if you start to believe that dark skinned people are the creepy ones- you’re giving into the fear. People are humans and everyone deserves a chance. Profiling doesn’t help anyone, it ends up hurting more I think anyways.. In fact lots of the most scary dangerous people are quite WASPY… :P

  18. Because I’m so special, I get a lot of attention in the form of questions and/or secondary searches from airport security. So when I’m on the other side of the security line, waiting to board or on board the plane, whenever I see people in distinctly Muslim garb I’m filled with sympathy that it’s more than likely that they have also been subject to those same indignities and inconveniences because of their appearance.

  19. Juan Williams is a tool who allowed himself to be used by Fox “news” because his NPR bonafides gave him an air of credibility. I’m glad they fired him. He’s certainly not hurting now.

    It a perfect example of what Bill Hicks referred to as “sucking Satan’s pecker.”

  20. But saying that there is no such thing as Muslim garb? Then what the hell are they selling at those stores near the mosques on Atlantic Ave. and Fulton/Bedford in Brooklyn?

    But saying that there is no such thing as Jewish garb? Then what the hell are they wearing in Williamsburg?

  21. Anyone who considers Juan Williams ignorant based on the comments that got him fired either didn’t bother listening to the comments in their full context or is too obtuse to understand what he was saying. This, “friend of my enemy is my enemy,” thinking and villianizing a brilliant person because he has the “audacity” to offer his perspective on Fox News is far worse than a “gut reaction” response you have to “obvious” muslims in the airport due to how much fear is being spread in mainstream media. At least in the latter, the guilty person has the ability to dismiss the feeling as irrational.

    That said, “Pictures of Muslims Wearing Things” is a great collection and I know a few people I need to share it with.

  22. I should probably point out that there IS a Muslim garb: Blue Starfleet uniforms. How many Muslims have you seen in red or gold?

  23. When I see a passenger on my plane wearing the kind of garb I assume Juan Williams was referring to I am relieved– none of the nineteen hijackers on 9/11 were wearing robes or turbans or keffiyehs or burkas. The surveillance tapes of Mohamed Atta show him in a golf shirt and chinos. No hijacker who actually expects to accomplish any kind of terrorism is going to show up for a flight wearing clothes that say “single me out for a pat-down and extra screening.”

  24. So I think we all agree — people need to have a frank discussion about prejudice, how the media fuels it, and how it’s important to overcome our impulses and treat everyone fairly.

    Just don’t admit you have any or you’re screwed.

  25. A lot of people are vaguely suspicious of muslims in airport settings. Is that really irrational, given recent statistics regarding muslims trying to blow up airplanes?

    Europol (an umbrella group for police cooperation across Europe) recently released statistics on terrorist acts in Europe for 2009. Of the several hundred that occurred most were acts of ethnic groups such as Basque separatists and Irish nationalists, while most of what were left were simply hateful crimes by European groups such as neo-Nazis and racist bigots and one and one only was ascribed to Islamic religious extremeists or Arab nationalists (Arab nationalism is the motive of most of the acts people confuse with religious extremeism).

    The statistics are, regarding Muslims and acts of terror that many, many more Muslims are killed, tortured and injured by foreign bombs and bullets than vice versa and if any attempt is made to rationalise hate from statistics then it makes much more sense for the Muslim to be fearful of apparent U.S citizens.

    The truth of the matter is no single person is in any significant danger of attack and projecting fear of the unlikely on others is to diminish yourself and give in to fear.

    The population of the U.S has been poorly served by leaders who would rather cowe their citizens with the threat of others to strengthern their own position and profit their friends.

  26. I think the above debate about Juan Williams misses the point that he is a news reporter, not daytime talk show. In private he can say all he wants (well… almost)and that would be a OK..but saying that on Fox (or any other public news program) DOES undermine his authority as a reporter. That is true regardless of the nuance Juan mentioned afterward, where he stated that we should not be following such prejudice, etc.
    Plus this is not the first time Juan exhibited lack judgment, the statement from NPR boss explained that.
    As far as NPR bias goes – yes there is a bias in their _selection_of programs but I have not came across story where NPR would skew facts or make up stuff. Now Fox news is whole another story, I still grin on Fox story about the Muslim cultural center 2 blocks from 9-11 site, where they went after person providing major funding showing his picture but “forgetting” to state his name. Daily Show than exposed his name and the fact that he is also the 2nd biggest Fox news equity owner.

    1. “I think the above debate about Juan Williams misses the point that he is a news reporter, not daytime talk show.”

      Not a news reporter. News Analyst/Commentator. He’s often asked, on both NPR and Fox, to share his opinions. It’s part of his job.

  27. Juan Williams is a boring toolbag 90% of the time on NPR, he deserved getting fired just for that alone. Cokie Roberts next please!

  28. Here’s another ignorant bigot:”
    “There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery. Then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved.” — Jesse Jackson
    Come on, people. Does it really do any good for people to keep their irrational fears to themselves? It’s not the fears themselves that are the problem, it is what you do about them. One thing you can do is talk through them and commit yourself to not acting on them; which, by the way, is exactly what Juan Williams said. The other thing you can do is keep them a secret, thereby quite likely *not* working through them, and have them manifest themselves through hateful action.

  29. It is true that what Williams said was more nuanced than what was portrayed. Otoh, he was allowing himself to play the hapless Colmes figure and sounding board for O’Reilly’s demagoguery. He allowed himself to become a tool for FOX news, which was damaging NPR’s credibility – at a time when the Right is trying to pull an ACORN on NPR.

    Norman #50, in what way are you having a ‘candid conversation’ about Muslims? By making sweeping stereotypes about the 1.3 Billion Muslims around the world? Call me cynical, but I’ll bet that Juan Williams’ supporters were busy proselytizing against the so-called ‘Ground Zero Mosque’ a few weeks ago, and now he’s just a convenient tool for the FOX teatard army to feel sorry for how they are being picked on. Waaah.

    Sorry to generalize about you Norman, but I’m just being candid.

  30. A lot of these photos are costumes, which seems like a way to pad the score. What does Alexander Siddig wear when he’s not working?

    I recently took a flight and was seated next to a man in “traditional Muslim” clothes. At first I thought “There’s a guy who has strong religious convictions because I know people are going to quietly think he’s a terrorist, and he’s cool with that. Neat!”

    Then he started talking really loud on his cell phone, and a few minutes later put on headphones and started singing to himself. After that I just thought he was a jerk. Frankly I’d have rather sat next to the shoebomber for the flight. He would have been less annoying.

    1. What does Alexander Siddig wear when he’s not working?

      A few seconds with IMDB or Google image search suggests that the answer is NOT “flowing robes” or “a kaffiyeh”. Cheesy turtlenecks, unfortunately yes.

      By the way, I categorically deny that your question made me think of the old “do you know what comes between me and my Calvins?” campaign. Never crossed my mind.

  31. The culture of the US right now breeds this kind of thought. Most people (and I’m sure I’m not exaggerating when I say “most”) have a fear of people who look middle eastern, and those who “dress black” if not blacks in general.

    To stereotype NPR listeners (of which I am one) for a moment, they like to think they’re above such things. The educated liberal elite, or something. But they’re not really. An NPR commenter admits this, and most people perhaps secretly agree with him. I think the correct response might have been to do a story looking into the reasons why people have irrational fears of certain kinds of people (middle easterners, blacks, whoever). And, to look into how objective NPR really is being – does their coverage contribute in any way to irrational fears, in the way that Fox and even CNN do, not to mention TV shows and movies? Does firing this guy contribute to people keeping their thoughts in the closet? Is this a good or bad thing?

    What can be done to fundamentally change the culture of the US so people stop thinking this way? Ridiculing someone for admitting their irrational fears isn’t going to help, I can say that much at least.

    Also, while I was strangely entranced by the photos and looked at every one, I couldn’t help but notice that for at least 2/3 of the photos one could reasonably guess that the person was muslim, either because of their clothes (and wasn’t that the point?) or their looks.

    I currently live just down the street from a mosque – in Thailand. They are all Thai, but definitely muslim. You can tell by the way they dress! Obviously not all muslims dress a certain way, and even if they do they don’t dress that way all the time, but to say there’s no common styles shared between muslims the world over is a bit disingenuous.

    1. Thank you. I fully agree with this comment. Creating a situation where people can’t openly talk about it is never a productive solution, as far as I can tell. If you can’t even admit to thinking about it without getting fired from your job, then it isn’t being confronted. It’s just the opposite – it prevents progress. You don’t have to censor if you’re confident you’re right, and doing so just lends credence to the bigots.

  32. JaxS, I think I’ve seen you in the Yahoo news comments, too. Don’t forget that the Torah and the Gospels contain verses saying to kill people who do not believe.

    I see a lot of Indonesian girls wearing hijab and blue jeans, and I’ve seen them playing basketball wearing hijab and sweat pants. It just seems normal to me. If someone wants the make fun of them they better not do it when I’m around.

    I saw a guy in a turban and a caftan with his wife at the grocery store, first by the produce and then by the cooking oil.

    Gosh, JaxS, do you think they were planning on making a salad bomb?

    1. Mitch, are you confusing “The Gospels” with the entire Bible?

      If not can you actually point to the scriptures in the New Testament, commonly referred to as “The Gospels” that advocate killing someone?

      You did know that “The Gospels” means that it is a writing that describes the life, ministry, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus – right? Not the entire Bible. That’s called “The Bible”.

      1. Here you go, big guy:
        Luke 19:27 But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.

        I am aware the the Gospels are the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and the Torah is the books of Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy. Thanks so much for asking.

        The New Testament also contains the Epistles, the Book of Acts, and the Book of Revelations, and the Old Testament (Tenakh) consists of the Torah, Prophets (Nevi’im), and Writings (Ketuvim), hence the acronym “Tenakh”. Any more questions?

        1. “Here you go, big guy:
          Luke 19:27 But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.”

          This is a verse commonly used out of context by people unfamiliar with the book of Luke (I’m not saying that you are, but did you read the verses that come before it?). Luke 19:11 begins with “While they were listening to this, he went on to tell them a parable” The verse 19:27 is part of the parable, and are not the words of Jesus himself, but of the man in the parable, the nobleman who became king. The parable itself is usually known as the “Parable of talents.”

          The same parable is given in Matthew, albeit in a slightly different form:;&version=NIV;

          Now when you get into textual criticism and historical context, things become more fun. Both seem to be the recollection of the same parable, and the essential points remain the same though the details differ. The parable is clearly eschatological when viewed through the lens of traditional theology, though there are some modern scholars who debate whether or not it was meant as such.

          The parallel to Luke 19:27 is Matthew 25:30 “And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Clearly not very pleasant, and has the same general meaning in the context of the parable, but at the same time has quite different connotations, especially to the modern reader who is two millenia removed in culture and time.

          I’ve babbled on far too long already, but In regards to the original post, I love it. Prejudices and preconceived notions should be continually challenged.

          I also feel the need to quote the Charter of Rights and freedoms:

          “Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:

          (a) freedom of conscience and religion;
          (b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
          (c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
          (d) freedom of association.”

          These are freedoms that we usually take for granted in the west, and we should be rightly critical of anything that infringes upon them.

        2. Yes Mitch, I do have a question. Are you actually quoting Luke 19:17 and trying to say that Jesus was advocating killing people?

          It’s the parable of the Talents. It doesn’t state that one should kill an unbeliever, which was you originally stated. It’s quite a stretch to make to say He was intending that believers go out and kill others after hearing Him say that.

          Ahh. I see someone else has pointed out your mistake.

          Maybe you can go back and read the rest of The Gospels and parse out the word “Kill” and try again.

  33. Let’s not forget those red-blooded ‘murkins who felt so threatened by ‘traditional Muslim garb’ that they beat, and even killed….American Sikhs.

  34. Siddig is a hottie, but I’m kinda surprised that the site hasn’t posted any pics of the artist formerly known as Cassius Clay in his famous slacks. Lets hope they’ll get to that eventually.

    FTR, I think this persistant notion, that every single muslim everywhere should be held accountable for the actions of a few extremists, it makes about as much sense as if we should force every single christian everywhere to debate Fred Phelps.

  35. There were very few Jews in Linz. In the course of centuries the Jews who lived there had become Europeanised in external appearance and were so much like other human beings that I even looked upon them as Germans. The reason why I did not then perceive the absurdity of such an illusion was that the only external mark which I recognized as distinguishing them from us was the practice of their strange religion. As I thought that they were persecuted on account of their faith my aversion to hearing remarks against them grew almost into a feeling of abhorrence. I did not in the least suspect that there could be such a thing as a systematic antisemitism. Once, when passing through the inner City, I suddenly encountered a phenomenon in a long caftan and wearing black side-locks. My first thought was: Is this a Jew? They certainly did not have this appearance in Linz. I carefully watched the man stealthily and cautiously but the longer I gazed at the strange countenance and examined it feature by feature, the more the question shaped itself in my brain: Is this a German?

    Recognize the author?

  36. There is precedent for this type of reaction.

    Let me add that there are circumstances when I might be made uneasy by people who can be described in the same terms I can. For example, I’m uneasy about science-fiction fans with the common sense of a turnip when they’re running for President … even despite the fact that I’m one.

  37. I don’t think it is unreasonable to assume that people who feel the need to dress according to their religion are rather fanatical about their beliefs and don’t have a secular outlook on life. This isn’t something limited to Islam — obviously many Orthodox Jews also feel a similar urge, as do groups of Christians (think Catholic nuns). Yes, not all religious people feel this need for religious dress, but in general, those people who dress according to the norms of secular society are those whose religious beliefs are more moderate.

    1. All the German Baptists, Amish, and Mennonites I see at the farmer’s market seem pretty moderate to me, I know quite a few moderate yarmulke wearing Jews, and none of the hijab wearing Muslim students I’ve seen around town have seemed particularly fanatical.

      Your assumptions associating someone’s outward appearance and way of dressing with being “fanatical” are completely unreasonable.

      1. certainly would not consider Amish and like groups “moderate” — refusing modern technology in the the name of the religion is pretty fanatic. Fanatic doesn’t have to mean violent — it just means that their religion trumps reason and consumes their identity. If religion is just one minor part of a person then fine — ideally one shouldn’t be able to even know what religion (if any) a person has unless they tell you.

        1. There’s noting fanatical about the Amish. They are pacifists who want a simple life and don’t want to surround themselves with all kinds of gadgets.

          You’re defining fanaticism in terms of your secular way of living being the norm.

          Religion is supposed to be an important part of your life if you practice it sincerely. It’s not supposed to be “minor”.

          Do you consider a moderate religious person someone who only halfheartedly practices their religion, like people who just go to church on holidays?

          1. I’d say someone who just go to church on holidays would be a good example of a moderate, although even people who go every week could still be moderate if they don’t get all Ned Flanders about it.

          2. So it’s ok to just go through the motions once in awhile or it’s ok to be more sincere about it as long as you keep it more low key. Gotcha.

          3. Really? Ned Flanders?

            As a Canadian white woman of Dutch descent, my favourite item of clothing is a sari. Am I a radical Hindu then, bent on converting you?

            Clothing is beyond irrelevant; as others have pointed out, it is contraindicated in subversive activities for its very conspicuousness.

          4. Not really a good example because saris traditionally haven’t been tied to religion — only recently have there been movements in Pakistan to consider them un-Islamic “Hindu clothing”, as they were popular there too. That being said, it’s hard to think of a less practical garment for Canada, except maybe a toga.

          5. In Indian society wearing the sari is seen as a sign of acceptance of traditional Indian values and religion is part of that. It doesn’t have to be specifically linked to one particular religion. In Mehboob Khan’s Aan a change in Princess Rajshree’s character toward accepting traditional Indian ways is symbolized by her transition from wearing British clothing to wearing a sari.

    2. You’re using a a rather odd definition of ‘fanatical’, it seems to me. Want to define that for me?

      I don’t think people who dress according to the fashion of their homeland (Islam does not actually require specific clothing) are more likely to blow things up and murder people. Being strict with oneself does not imply the imperative to punish others.

      1. If a person is so into their religion that they feel the need to advertise it to the world, I would consider that fanatical. They don’t have to be violent. I’d consider many Mac and Linux geeks to be pretty fanatical, always trying to bring up their favorite operating system to annoyed Windows folk who don’t want to be converted. (And I say that as a Mac and Linux person myself).

        I know that Islam doesn’t require specific clothing; Turkey is a good example of a country where the people for the most part dress secularly; not coincidentally, despite a a few radicals, it is a pretty secularized country. This is the ideal that I think all religious countries should strive for.

        However, it is clear that clothing is not entirely independent of Islam. Think of the recent article about the South Park-threatening ethically Jewish Muslim convert — it is hardly coincidental what costume he adopted after conversion.

  38. Is the Dalai Lama a fanatic? I don’t think I’ve ever seen him wearing jeans and a t shirt or a suit. He’s always wearing that red robe. He’s advertising his religion to the world so he must be a fanatic according to your way of thinking.

  39. If you believe in reincarnation it’s not fanatic. Have you ever read anything written by the Dalai Lama or heard him speak?

    I can tell you’re an atheist or an agnostic and people like you tend to have condescending and judgmental attitudes toward religion.

    You’re entitled to think what you want but you happen to be wrong.

    People who are not lukewarm and inconspicuous in their practice of their religion are not “fanatics”.

  40. To point out the ignorance of Juan Williams even more, I never saw a picture of Mohammed Atta wearing anything but western clothing.

  41. Hey Shroomy – That’s Chapelle dressed as Prince (who happens to be a Jehovah’s Witness – whatever light that may shed on the argument). DC is indeed a muslim.

    Really an awesome collection of people in the blog. If for no other reason than it makes people say “him?” “her?” “i didn’t know that about them” and that’s kinda the point isn’t it? Unless someone is proselytizing at you, or you happen to be around while they are observing rites, you really have no reason to know their religion. I only hope that people aren’t reading the list and thinking, “wow, they did that even though they’re muslim.” Good one.

  42. wow… Juan Williams really has sparked the kind of discourse he spoke about in his ‘comments’. frankly i don’t watch fox nor listen to npr so i had no idea of this man but his words have sparked interesting debate…

  43. Yeah I get that Muslims are a part of our society, just like Christians, Atheists and [Insert your religion here], I don’t have a problem with that. But what irritates me is the full veil, it seems like its sending a message that this person doesn’t want to fit in with their adopted country.
    Australia welcomes everyone, but if they aren’t gonna make an effort to get along or even form gangs and drag down the neighborhood, well then they can piss off back to whatever hellhole they fled from, we don’t need that.

    1. I bet you don’t rock a loincloth and paint, right?
      (large generalisation there, but I hope the point is clear)

      Wearing a ‘full veil’ doesn’t mean someone doesn’t want to fit in with their adopted country. The message it seems like its sending is coming from your own head, and you should get that checked out.

      Australia welcomes everyone, that’s how we roll, and if you’d like to fit in with your adopted country, you might want to do the same.

      Or not. Whatever, we’ll take all sorts here.

    2. People’s attitude toward the full facial veil is even more irritating. Some neo-Nazi or neo-Vichy types have even tried to legislate against it. The only reason people who wear it don’t “fit in” is because too many people refuse to accept it. Not accepting someone because they don’t dress like everyone else reminds me a little too much of junior high school. A person putting her values, traditions, and beliefs above the prevailing fashion is not a negative thing.

      1. I am as far from Neo-Nazi as it gets but i support the total banning of the full face veil and the burqa, as much as i support the banning of infibulation, circumcision and other barbarian practices. Respecting others does not mean accepting practices that go against basic human rights in the name of preserving “culture” and “tradition”.

        1. Yeah, let’s impose a dress code on people and fine them for wearing an article of clothing to protect their rights! Sometimes you need to impose restrictions on people to protect their freedom! Right on, dio_zonnie!

        2. No matter how you dress it up or how pretty you try to make it sound it still comes down to white people telling non-white people what to do!

        3. Let me ask a question: Why can’t you be content to say “I prefer that you not wear this garment because…” and leave it up to people to decide for themselves. Why do you feel a need to use the power of the state to force people to dress the way you think they ought to dress?

          1. Our main difference is probably that you see law as an evil while i believe it is there to protect people. Once upon a time it was legal to beat your wife and it was legal to kill her for honor. Women where obligated to wear long clothes by law until the 60’s in some countries, all in the name of tradition. Those laws were wrong and ended where they belong in the trashbin of history but still serve as a cautionary tale. I have no will to allow this to happen again if i can help it. And rest assured that this is what defenders of the veil (or other back to basics movements of whatever religion)aspire at. Chris O Donnel visiting the middle east declared that it found it “refreshingly free of smut”. Welcome to the 50s.

            Your problem which happens to be the problem of a large part of the left nowadays is that you buy other cultures wholesale. Your heart is at the right place but your eyes are closed by the poison of political correctness at all costs.

            Let me put it like this. I prefer Salman Rushdie to the King of Saudi Arabia. I do not hate muslims but i hate reactionaries. I believe that indulging the worst parts of their culture is not respecting them.

          2. Who are you to judge their manner of dress? It’s not your call and it’s damned arrogant of you to think it is.

  44. I work with a refugee program here in the state of Vermont. Recently I heard some refugees from Bhutan tell me how they are scared of black people. They said that if they see African Americans at a bus stop, they stay away from them. I asked why, and they told me all blacks are criminals, although they could offer no statistics or reasons for believing this. They apparently learned this back in Nepal, where they were refugees, not in the USA. As one of the previous commenters pointed out, 99% of serial killers in the USA are white. I don’t see anyone afraid of white people standing at the bus stop. What about all the pedophiles lurking around in pedophile clothing? In our state, you can do a check of where sexual offenders live. I am not moving just because I know there are about 30 sexual offenders living near my home in my small town of 30, 000. Juan Williams, being African American himself, should know better. People might get nervous by being near him because he’s lurking around in “black skin” garb. oh, puleeeze

  45. OK… I’ll be the “bigot”:

    Since Pan-Am Flt. 103, the overwhelming majority of terrorist attacks on airlines and attempts have been perpetrated by Muslims. Can we at least agree on that? About 1 in 10 airline disasters were the result of sabotage (roughly looking at

    Now, it is irrational to think that a person dressed in Muslim garb will try to blow up your flight (“hey, look at me!”), but given the ubiquity of irrational beliefs (religion, Keynesianism, truthers, organic food, second hand smoke, etc.), and the media’s portrayal of Muslim attitudes towards western culture, how/why is this one so off base?

    Juan Williams was canned for having the wrong irrational fear. That’s all.

  46. If Juan had said “we should be nervous when flying with people dressed like Muslims” then he should get fired. But I think he said (in a nutshell) “some people, including me, are nervous when flying with people dressed like Muslims”. It is ignorant and irrational but that’s how he feels and he is right that others feel that way. I can see firing him because he is clearly stupid but not for being a racist.

  47. On a general note, let’s all keep the discourse civil. That’s not aimed at anyone in particular, but this subject matter tends to be a bit flammable.

  48. Dr. Zuhdi Jasser had some interesting things to say about this controversy. He’s worth a google.

  49. An irrational fear would be seeing a person in Amish “garb” getting on a plane and connecting that in your mind to an attempt to blow up the plane.

    I’ll admit that after 9-11 when I’d see a guy who looked like the 9-11 terrorists I kept my eye on them. Usually I’d end up feeling sorry for the guy since it was pretty clear everyone eye was giving him the once over too.

    In this day and age it’s not irrational to be concerned about terror attacks. And like it or not there is a certain profile that can be applied to the vast majority of terror plots. Obviously in the west the profile doesn’t include “muslim garb” since they terrorist are trying to blend in. But I think to focus on that misses the point of what Juan Williams was saying. He main point was that political correctness has pushed people to the point where that can’t even state the obvious. The 9-11 terrorists, London Bombers, Madrid bombers, etc where not terrorists who just happened to be muslim. They are primarily motivated by their religious views. And thus can rightly be called “Islamic Terrorists” since they do what they do in the name of Islam. Obviously a qualify is helpful so we call them “radical islamic terrorists” Which to my mind is unneeded since it presumes that there must be such a thing as a “moderate” Islamic terrorists.

    People always bring up Timothy McVeigh in this context. “why wasn’t he labeled a Christian Terrorist?”I’ll tell you why. Because it was much more accurate to label him a Right-Wing Terrorist. Which was how he was described at the time. His religious views did not influence him as much to his right-wing militia views. In fact he said his religion was science. And that he didn’t know if god existed. His religious views are debatable. His right-wing views are not. Thus “right-wing terrorist” in his case is much more accurate.

    Anyway, NPR was wrong to fire JW. Open debate isn’t a bad thing. JW is not a bigot nor is he ignorant.

  50. I recognize that not everyone in the Western world, and not everyone participating in this discussion, is a Liberal. Nonetheless, I’m convinced that the only way that people of diverse viewpoints, diverse values, diverse backgrounds, and diverse lifestyles can live together in the same society in peace is if that society operates according to the principles of Liberalism. Those principles are best expressed in the writings of John Locke, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and John Stuart Mill. In particular, I would like to call your attention to these two passages from Mill’s On Liberty:

    [T]he only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinions of others, to do so would be wise, or even right These are good reasons for remonstrating with him, or reasoning with him, or persuading him or entreating him, but not for compelling him, or visiting him with any evil, in case he do otherwise. To justify that, the conduct from which it is desired to deter him must be calculated to produce evil to some one else. The only part of the conduct of any one, for which he is amenable to society, is that which concerns others. In the part which merely concerns himself, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.

    And, a few pages later he writes:

    The only freedom which deserves the name, is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it. Each is the proper guardian of his own health, whether bodily, or mental and spiritual. Mankind are greater gainers by suffering each other to live as seems good to themselves, than by compelling each to live as seems good to the rest.

    Societies that are committed to adhering to these principles, even when doing so is difficult, divisive, or unpopular, will ultimately end up being more free, more equal, more peaceful, and more stable than societies that paternalistically try to impose the preferences of the majority onto the minority “for their own good”.

    The Huffington Post just ran a story about how more religious freedom leads to less religious conflict. So, perhaps those Westerners who feel intimidated by the growing number of Muslims in their community would be better served by working to promote greater tolerance than by trying to make Muslims feel unwelcome.

    1. There is one fallacy in your post. While it is all well and good what happens when a portion of your society knowingly abuses of the freedoms granted to oppress a minority? That’s what we are talking about. Nobody wants to ban Islam but not banning does not equal accepting all the fringe practices. Also i find that helping a minority use the freedoms granted is not paternalistic, actually is the whole point of Humanism.

      I guess what we argue about is if the burqa is a choice or an imposition. I believe that it is the second thus it must be banned.

      1. Banning it is even more of an imposition. Have you ever asked any Muslim women what they want? Many American Muslim women have made great accomplishments within a society that respects individual freedom and does not have any government imposed dress codes. Just leave them alone and let them do what they want as we do.

        1. I think that you are the stoned one here. Banning is not taboo in a Democracy. And neither is free speech without limits. We punish hate speech, we ban cigarettes in public venues, we ban drunk driving and we ban symbols too like the Germans have banned the swastika. When necessary the law protects you even against your will and that’s why you have to wear a seatbelt and you must have health insurance.

          Now try to understand that as i already said in western societies you cannot disrespect human rights by choice or by omission and for whatever reason. Covering a human being in a fkin bag is a blatant violation of human rights and you can dress it as you want but it is appalling and violates every sense of female dignity.

          Thus the protection of a human being overrides the freedom of religion, and that’s that. You may want to live in an anarchist utopia where nothing is banned but until that day i prefer banning blatant displays of barbarism.

          1. So where are all these Muslim women saying “Please, secular men from Catholic countries, ban the veil for us so that we can live more like you do?” I’m just not seeing it. You can state your reasons for preferring that women not wear the full facial veil but the final choice has to be up to them.

            In America we can wear whatever we want as long as private areas of the body are covered, and Muslim women do just fine here without being told how to dress. A lot of people here would favor a ban because they just don’t like Muslims, but hopefully such people will not get their way. A ban here would most likely be overturned in our courts which are protective of human rights.

      2. …what happens when a portion of your society knowingly abuses of the freedoms granted to oppress a minority?

        Simple. You punish the oppressors.

        You DON’T punish the oppressed; and you certainly don’t punish the innocent.

        When someone harms someone else, you accuse them of wrongdoing, take them to court, present evidence against them, give them a chance to defend themselves under conditions of due process, and let a jury of their peers decide whether they are guilty or innocent. If they are found guilty, you punish them for their crime.

        That’s how we deal with oppression in a free society. We don’t simply ban people from exhibiting the symptoms of oppression. And we don’t automatically assume that someone is being oppressed simply because they happen to do things that we might not personally choose to do. I personally choose not to wear a necktie because I believe that it’s absurd to dangle a useless piece of cloth from my neck simply because it’s considered fashionable; and I question the rationality of anyone who would voluntarily wear a necktie. But I don’t try to get the necktie banned simply because I wouldn’t personally choose to wear one of my own free will. I would oppose any dress code that made neckties mandatory; but I wouldn’t presume to try to forbid other people from wearing them if they chose to do so.

        1. So you are saying in your analogy that while i try to catch and charge the wifebeater i must not take care of the bruises? Bruises are a symptom after all, as is the burqa. I leave the victim without help?

          Also fully covering your face is already illegal in many countries long before this debate for terrorism related reasons. Do you propose to make it legal again just to accommodate a horrible practice? Or that there should be an exception?

          Also notice that i am talking about FULL FACE veils and burqas not the hijab.

          1. Are you proposing to jail or fine a woman for having bruises? Because that’s the only place your analogy is leading.

          2. No i am proposing saying with facts that having bruises is not OK and that we will not tolerate it. I still do not understand what do you think that you will accomplish by perpetuating and silently accepting if not actively promoting barbarism. And what happened to the feminists?

            In my mind it must be clear to all citizens and guests that my country is founded on human rights and respect for them. And that there is no excuse or loophole to deny such rights to anyone for whatever reason.

            Small concessions must be made by all if you want to live in a civil society. I cannot go around in the nude even if my religion says so, and you cannot go around dressed like a mailbox because your religion says so. Totally free to dress as you wish in the privacy of your own home or private space or temple.

          3. “And that there is no excuse or loophole to deny such rights to anyone for whatever reason.” except to deny Muslim the right to wear whatever they want. The contradiction of taking away people’s rights to protect their rights would be laughable if it weren’t so frightening. Let’s hope that the European Court of Human rights overturns these bans.

          4. First i am neither catholic nor in a catholic country.

            Second i do not propose to muslim women nothing at all. I do not believe in exporting democracy. I advocate that in MY country and in Europe in general there should be no loopholes for de facto slavery and abuse. Also respect existing laws that ban full face covering.

            Third try to make an argument instead of repeating drivel like “america land of the free” since you live in the country of no knock warrants, preventive property confiscation and 700.000$ fines for downloading a song.

            Ironically the country that invaded Afghanistan and at the time one of the excuses was to liberate women from the fkin burqa (noone gives a shit about that anymore) a noble goal that got the support of many countries.

            Also the country that does not recognize the international court. At least we have a court for human rights.

          5. But we DON’T ban bruises. There are lots of ways a woman could get bruises — abuse is only one of them. If we see a woman who looks like she’s been battered, we might call the police to investigate; and, if they found sufficient evidence of abuse, they would arrest the abuser. On the other hand, if they found out that she got the bruises because she’s an amateur boxer, or because she was injured in an accident at work, no charges would be pressed. Because bruises aren’t what’s illegal. Abuse is what’s illegal. We don’t ban a woman from walking the streets with bruises on her face. That punishes the woman, not her abuser.

            You can’t advance people’s rights by taking away their freedom. That puts you on the road to tyranny.

            I’m a college professor in the middle of the Bible Belt, and the summers here get extremely hot and humid. So, during the warmer months of the year, a large percentage of female students will be wearing shorts or short skirts on campus. But, because this is the Bible Belt, a sizable minority of the female students will be wearing long, heavy skirts, even in the summer heat. You can pretty much spot the more religious female students by the way they dress in warm weather. Why do they dress this way? The obvious answer is that they choose to dress this way because of their religious values. But how can I be sure this is really their choice? Isn’t it reasonable for me to suspect that their parents and other members of their religious community are pressuring them to dress this way? Isn’t this oppressive? Would they choose to wear these long, hot skirts in the summer if it weren’t for the religious indoctrination they’re getting at home? Perhaps my university ought to pass a dress code banning long skirts in the summer months, and requiring female students to wear shorts or short skirts instead — for their own good, of course. We must free them from the religious oppression of their families, and help them to better fit in with the other members of the student body. Right?

            And should the Amish and the Hassidim really be allowed to wear those funny clothes that make it so hard for them to fit in with “normal” society? You’ve got to suspect that at least some of these people are being pressured by their families and their religious community to wear these clothes; and that, if they really were free to make their own choices, they would choose to dress like “normal” people. Right? So shouldn’t we ban these religiously-mandated outfits in order to insure that none of the members of these religious communities are being denied their human rights?

            Or does your argument apply only to Muslims?

          6. What part of the “i don’t want a dress code but a ban on full face covering” did i not make clear? i do not propose anything of the short. People can dress as stupid as they want. But there is no such thing as the burqa in any tradition meant exclusively to box and annihilate a person. Apart from clothing there are other abominable traditions. For example a Hindi wife would be burned with her husband. Would you allow that choice?

            You can hide behind your finger as much as you want and say that the burqa is a choice. But please explain how do you intend to educate someone who is allowed to only leave the house in a spacesuit? Also must our “respect” extend to personal classrooms and fully covered professors too? Or do i have to respect a fully covered person as a public servant?

            Probably living in the Bible belt you are familiar with religious bigotry. Do you think that it should be encouraged and imported?

          7. What part of the “i don’t want a dress code but a ban on full face covering” did i not make clear? i do not propose anything of the short.

            But that’s the whole point, isn’t it? You’re not proposing a ban on any type of clothing except for the one type specifically associated with Muslim women. You’re not proposing a ban on the sort of clothing that many Christian or Jewish women are required by their husbands/fathers/religious leaders to wear. You’re only proposing a ban on the sort of clothing that many Muslim women are required by their husbands/fathers/religious leaders to wear. So, this really has nothing to do with the oppression of women under the guise of religion in general. It has everything to do with the oppression of women under the guise of the Islamic religion in particular.

            If a conservative Christian woman says that she prefers to wear a long skirt because her religion teaches her that it’s immodest for a woman to show her legs in public, you seem to be fine with that. But if a conservative Muslim woman says that she prefers to wear a veil because her religion teaches her that it’s immodest for a woman to show her face in public, you find that oppressive. Why do you find the latter oppressive but not the former?

          8. You insist on trying to make me look like an islamophobic while it is not the case at all. Christians, Jews, Budhists or whatever do not have anything similar, if they ever get the idea i would be for banning those too. I am against every and all barbaric traditions including circumcision of minors. And goes your logic since i am against this particular tradition and it happens to be muslim i am against muslims.

            You did not answer my question about accepting a culture/religion wholesale and if criticism of said culture\religion makes you a racist. I think that the Hindi wife example is relevant.

            Also i remind you that full face covering is banned for different reasons around here long before the burqa was an issue. What you are saying is that (in some countries) the law must change to accommodate a minority.






            Anything in the above pictures will get you stopped and\or arrested even if you are not rioting. Why make an exception for this abomination?




            Will those women accept a normal identity check as i do and will they lift the veil for the cops? At what point do you draw the line between being open minded and being totally blind?

          9. I’d be quite happy to go around completely veiled. It’s a bit of a fantasy for plenty of introverts. Just because you don’t like it, doesn’t mean you should get to tell me what to wear. Why is banning the veil any different from ordering women to strip in public to satisfy the male gaze?

          10. I like to go around naked. I can’t. Why do you tell me what not to wear? I dare you to go in a bank pantless see what happens. Society is just a compromise after all. Also i prefer my compromises to imported ones. I don’t try to export my bigotry why should i import someone else’s? Note that the burqa thing is not traditional for european muslims either. It is all about permitting the annihilation of the female in a small fringe. If they get away with it a whole century of social progress goes down the drain.

            I think that the burqa is humiliating women in a way that no other garment ever did before. I find it strange that so many boingers defend this horrendous practice.

          11. I find it strange that so many boingers defend this horrendous practice.

            So your company gives you a great opportunity to work for two years in an exotic foreign locale. You pack up the Missus and move there, only to discover that local women go bare-breasted in public. And the government is so concerned about maintaining social cohesion and making sure that women aren’t oppressed by being forced to wear anything above the waist, they make a law that says that it’s illegal for your wife to leave the house unless she shows her tits.

            That’s what you’re asking for.

          12. I would not go to such a place, and what’s for sure even if i went i would be prepared to respect the local laws. “In Rome do as the Romans”. I would not expect the locals to change their habits for me.

            Reverse your example in real life. Your company gives you a great opportunity to work for two years in an exotic foreign locale. You pack up the Missus and move there, only to discover that local women go dressed in a spacesuit in public. Also your Missus cannot talk to men or interact with anyone in public.

            Now tell me in clean conscience that women there are super happy about it, and that we should import the practice in the name of freedom.

          13. I would not go to such a place

            Exactly. You wouldn’t go to a place where the law forbade women from dressing in accordance with your own standards of modesty. Lots of Muslims feel the same way. So, perhaps you can understand why passing a law that prohibits women from dressing in accordance with Muslim standards of modesty might be interpreted to mean: Muslims are not welcome here.

          14. Muslim women who want to wear the veil don’t see you as their liberator; you’re just some foreign guy trying to tear their clothes off.

          15. So do polygamists. Sometimes religious doctrine is incompatible with western civil society. I am no liberator and i do not want to be. Also it is weird to be seen as a foreigner in ones own country. Anyway we fought for women to be free and there is no question that i will fight every idiocy being it religious or political that wants to take that back. The minority of women that wants to go around in a burqa is not an excuse to support this travesty.

            I am an MD. I did 4 months of my military service on an uninhabited island where traffickers unloaded hoards of desperates mainly afgans and pakistanis. I saw some of them drown. I tried my best to help. I voted for the change in immigration and naturalization laws and in favor of giving second generation immigrants voting rights. I protested against the ban of a mosque in Athens. And against the abomination of a law that leaves kids of illegal immigrants without a homeland even if they are 3rd generation here (unless they play soccer of course). I donated to the freedom flotilla. I refused to turn in illegals that came to the hospital and protested with the other doctors when they tried to make it obligatory to call the cops if an illegal presents himself in the ER.

            So i do not view myself as a bigot. I believe that i did and do my part to be hospital and civil. I want immigrants to assimilate and feel at home and be given all the rights we enjoy. I don’t believe that paying lip service to the lowest denominator helps. And i don’t want my caring for humans being mistaken for cowardice or fear of consequences. I will draw mohamed and use the name of the lord in vain as much as i please.

            If that magically transforms me in a Nazi bigot so be it.

          16. No…not a “nazi bigot”, but rather simply offensive and insulting.

            Which is OK, I guess, so long as somebody bigger than you doesn’t object to your freely giving such contemptuous offense, and starts to beat you for your showing a lack of respect for the beliefs of others.

            A respect which we are more than willing to grant to your beliefs – provided that you are not offensive (that is, to those not unreasonably prone to taking offense) in the practice of those beliefs.

            Let others enjoy the same freedoms which you do, even if you don’t ever choose to exercise those particular freedoms.

          17. I feel contempt for religion when it is blatantly anti-human, even if i enjoy reading theology in general. And the freedom to be contemptuous of religion is a a rare one too. Let every bizarre anti-human practice go unchecked in the name of religion and soon it will be taken away.

            What you advocate is to allow religious fanaticism to corrode the secular state. The French understand this and they banned the cross and all religious symbols in public schools since 1905(see not muslim stuff they started with their own first). The ban of the burqa is in line with their secularism and it had overwhelming support from left and right in the senate (246 votes to one for banning)and in the national assembly. The decision was thus explained:

            “Given the damage it produces on those rules which allow the life in community, ensure the dignity of the person and equality between sexes, this practice, even if it is voluntary, cannot be tolerated in any public place”

            I wholeheartedly agree.

          18. I’m not trying to make you look like an Islamophobe. But I am suggesting that perhaps your idea about what sort of clothing is acceptable or unacceptable for women to wear in public is shaped by the prejudices of the culture you live in, and not by any universal truths about what is or is not appropriate attire for women.

  51. Almost 200 comments, and nobody has yet posted Juan Williams’s actual full quote:

    Political correctness can lead to some kind of paralysis where you don’t address reality. I mean, look Bill [O’Reilly], I’m not a bigot, you know the kind of books I’ve written on the civil rights movement in this country, but when I get on a plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous. Now, I remember also that when the Times Square bomber was at court, I think this was just last week. He said the war with Muslims, America’s war is just beginning, first drop of blood. I don’t think there’s any way to get away from these facts. But I think there are people who want to somehow remind us all as President Bush did after 9/11, it’s not a war against Islam.

    You can see he said more than “It’s understandable to be a little nervous about seeing a Muslim on a plane.” He said we’re in a war with Islam, and that it’s politically correct “paralysis” to say otherwise.

  52. I’ve turned off the sock puppet who made 38 comments in this thread in the last eight hours and removed the comments. Those of you who took the troll bait, including me, now have orphaned comments. Sorry.

  53. In case anyone is still interested in discussing Juan Williams and what he said, here is a link to the On The Media story about the controversy. OTM is an NPR program, but is often rather critical, as here, of NPR policies and choices (they never bought NPR’s stance on the use of the word ‘torture’, for example).

    A couple of interesting things in that piece. First of all, Williams was actually making the opposite point, and was clip-cut the way Shirley Sherrod was. Second, this is far from the first problem they’ve had with Williams, and (per NPR) repeated conversations with him have made no difference; he has violated his contract with them on numerous occasions.

    The piece ends with the opinion (from some Slate guy) that this was the wrong point to make with the wrong guy, and using the wrong example.

    Brooke Gladstone is a professional journalist, so she doesn’t state her own opinion. But you can certainly read a thing or two from her choice of closer.

  54. I have a problem with all forms of clothing that conceal the identity of the wearer. I feel the same way about ski-masks (called balaclavas in some places) as I do about veils. In fact veils aren’t as bad as ski-masks. Tinted motorcycle faceplates too. Also tinted windows on cars so you can’t see the driver (those are actually unsafe for several other reasons).

    These are too easy to use for criminal anonymity. It scares me when I see them.

    That has nothing whatsoever to do with religious prejudice. I just think someone concealing their identity must have a reason (and that’s why veils aren’t as bad…less concealing, but also there’s another, comparatively innocuous reason).

    In a more oppressive state, concealing your identity for political rallies would be justified. In fact I’d be tempted to wear a big hood whenever I was out in public in the UK, because it’s a surveillance state. But in America (most parts of, so far) you don’t have a huge need to conceal your identity unless you’re up to no good.

    1. That is a reasonable point of view; and I can respect it even if I don’t fully agree with it.

      If this whole issue were nothing more than a question of whether covering your face in public ought to be seen as a threat to public safety, I could sympathize with those who wanted to ban facial coverings in public (though I’d still oppose such a ban). But, unfortunately, there’s more to this issue than whether covering your face in public ought to be seen as a threat. Like it or not, the focus of so-called “burqa bans” is solely on a particular type of clothing worn almost exclusively by Muslim women. That fact has to raise alarm bells for anyone who believes in religious liberty.

      1. Religious liberty is not carved in stone you know. You choose to see islamophobia in this but polygamy is not allowed either even between consenting adults. Some Christians are polygamists and all Muslims in theory can be so here you have the bipartizanship you desire. Another example: Scientology is a religion in the USA but is not recognized or outright banned in many countries including Canada, Belgium, UK and Norway hardly racist societies:

        Again you have to choose where to draw a line and define what a society will tolerate and what it will not. You choose to give Islam a free pass on everything i do not, as i do not give a free pass to every doctrine that goes against basic human rights. Uncritically accepting all religious traditions and habits is being naive and i find it deleterious for civil society.

        1. Nothing is ever truly carved in stone. But Liberalism holds that certain things should be treated as if they were carved in stone, forever protected from the vicissitudes of politics and public opinion; and that religious liberty is one of those sacred things.

          I’ll redirect your attention to the link I posted earlier to the article from The Huffington Post which shows that the more religious liberty there is in a society, the less religious conflict there is.

          1. Excuse me but our definitions of religious freedom differ. While i do support total religious freedom i do not believe that endorsing humiliating practices falls under that banner. My example about wife burning is clear.

            Also it is true that certain kinds of behavior indeed are not welcome, what’s so strange or abhorrent about that? Do you advocate that everyone is welcome regardless of his\her respect of the local law? Do we have a moral obligation to give free pass to the Taliban for example? Or the Freedomites so you do not accuse me of Islamophobia?

          2. I never suggested that we should be “endorsing” any religious practice. I merely suggested we shouldn’t ban religious practices simply because we find them objectionable. There’s a world of difference between not banning something and “endorsing” it. There are lots of things that have been done in the name of religion that should never be “endorsed” — in fact, they ought to be condemned in the strongest possible terms. But that doesn’t mean they ought to be banned by law.

            Behavior ought to be banned by law ONLY if that behavior is highly likely to cause direct harm to others or to disturb the peace. It’s not enough that others find the behavior objectionable. In order to justify a ban, it would have to be shown that the behavior itself is injurious to others, or that it threatens to disrupt the social order in a way that could be dangerous. And such a ban ought to be religiously neutral. In other words, the intent of such a ban should not be to suppress a specific religious practice that some people find offensive. Rather, any such ban ought to be aimed solely at preventing harm, with no regard to how it affects specific religious practices.

            So, would a burqa ban meet my criteria? I don’t think so. I seriously doubt that you could make a case for a burqa ban on the grounds that allowing women to wear burqas is likely to cause direct harm to others or to disturb the peace — especially if women have already been wearing them for some time in your society without serious incident. And it would be hard to enact such a ban in a way that would be religiously neutral if its primary effect was to ban an item of clothing worn almost exclusively by Muslims.

            If you want to ban people from forcing women to wear items of clothing they don’t really want to wear, you’ve got my full support. But if you want to ban items of clothing that you personally disapprove of, you’ve lost my support. In my view, telling women they can’t wear an item of clothing is every bit as misogynistic as telling them they must wear it.

          3. I do not want to ban a religious practice. I already made clear that i want full face covering banned. For christians and for jews alike. If that happens to be a religious practice, tough luck. I understand that many ride the muslim bashing train with the occasion but i sincerely believe that letting oppressing practices a free pass with the excuse of religious freedom is not ok. At all.

            As for straight out banning certain religious practices it is ok too, when they go against civil rights. Why are you not protesting against the poligamist oppression?

            “Behavior ought to be banned by law ONLY if that behavior is highly likely to cause direct harm to others or to disturb the peace.”

            IMHO the burqa directly ruins the lives of those that are forced to wear it. And like it or not they ARE forced to wear it. It is a man’s invention (fact).

            “but I’ll bet that the children and grandchildren of immigrants from Third World nations to Western nations are much less religious than their parents and grandparents were.”

            Not really. Actually in many cases they become more religious. Mostly because it is not about money but about integration with local society.


          4. I have no wish to impugn your motives. I believe that you are sincere in your desire to protect women from oppression. But I believe that you are misguided, nonetheless.

            You look at the veil and see only oppression. Given your cultural background, that’s the only way you can see it. Your culture tells you that showing your face in public is “normal” and covering it up is “abnormal”. You have no problems with the idea of a woman covering her breasts or even her legs out of a desire for modesty; but you can’t imagine any woman wanting to cover her face out of a desire for modesty. So, you automatically assume that any woman who covers her face out of a desire for modesty must have been forced to do so against her will; or else she has been “brainwashed” by her religion to want to cover her face. But I could make the same argument about women who cover their breasts or legs out of modesty. In most places, women are forced by law to cover their breasts in public. Lots of women oppose these laws, and want the legal right to go topfree in public if they choose to do so. Less than a century ago, if a woman showed her bare legs in public she would have gotten arrested for public indecency in most parts of the world. Today, women are legally permitted to bare their legs in public in many places; but many women still choose not to for the sake of modesty. Why? In many cases it’s because their religion teaches them that it’s immodest for women to bare their legs in public. One might argue that their religion has “brainwashed” them into thinking this. So, how is this any different from Muslim women covering their faces in public?

            You argue that the Quran doesn’t specifically prescribe face covering; it only prescribes “modesty” and doesn’t define exactly what “modesty” requires. That’s true. It’s also true that the Christian Bible doesn’t specifically prescribe covering the breasts or legs; it only prescribes “modesty” and doesn’t define exactly what “modesty” requires. The precise meaning of “modesty” for Christians has varied from time to time, place to place, and sect to sect, just as it has for Muslims. Many Christian women feel free to bare their legs in public, just as many Muslim women feel free to show their faces in public. But some Christian women feel that modesty requires them to cover their legs, just as some Muslim women feel that modesty requires them to cover their faces. The commitment to “modesty” is religious. The precise definition of what “modesty” requires is cultural. But the fact that the definition of “modesty” is cultural does not diminish its religious significance. If a devout Christian woman insists on wearing long skirts in public for the sake of modesty you wouldn’t ridicule her by pointing out that the Bible doesn’t command her to cover her legs. It’s every bit as absurd to ridicule a devout Muslim woman who insists on wearing a veil in public for the sake of modesty by pointing out that the Quran doesn’t command her to cover her face.

            You have no problem with women covering their breasts or legs out of modesty; but you object if they cover their faces out of modesty. Why? The ONLY difference is that your culture is comfortable with women covering their breasts or legs out of modesty, but is uncomfortable with women covering their faces out of modesty. But to judge other cultures by the values and preferences of your own culture is cultural imperialism.

            Does that mean it’s never appropriate to criticize another culture? Of course not: Feel free to criticize as much as you want. But it’s never appropriate to impose a set of cultural values by force or fiat on people who do not accept those values. The only viable alternative to cultural imperialism, as I see it, is Liberalism: Give each individual the freedom to live his or her own life on his or her own terms, and stop telling them how they ought to dress or behave. The only restrictions on individual behavior ought to be those that are absolutely necessary to protect people from harm and to maintain social order. Any other restrictions on individual freedom are, in my view, inappropriate. I think it’s perfectly reasonable to criticize the Muslim cultures of the Middle East for how they treat women. But I wouldn’t criticize them for having the “wrong” cultural values. Rather, I’d criticize them for being illiberal and paternalistic — i.e. for imposing one set of cultural values on everyone, “for their own good”, instead of letting individuals freely choose their own values. I would criticize YOU for the exact same reason. You want to impose YOUR cultural values on people who don’t agree with them. You may have the absolute best of intentions; but your proposal is illiberal, paternalistic, and culturally imperialistic.

            I’ll leave you with the words of Justice Louis Brandeis, one of the finest Liberal minds ever to sit on the United States Supreme Court: “Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government’s purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.”

          5. Now who is being paternalistic? What do you know of my culture? You are arguing on stale stereotypes. By that measure in you i find a deluded vegan New Yorker that plays ethnicky jazz to parade his snazz on his five grand stereo,bragging that he knows how the n*****s feel the cold and the slums have so much soul.

            Also you use strong words like “ought” and “imperialism”. So it is all about what we “ought” to do.

            We have a profound cultural gap. For various reasons the USA is mostly libertarian in nature while most of Europe is republican (as in Secular State). Both cultures have pros and cons but none have this naive liberal point of view. Case in point the US even while Obama welcomes the burqa bans poligamism and has no knock warrants and arbitrary confiscation of property, while Europe finds that teaching creationism at school is an abomination and copes badly with bizarre religious practices like scientology and the burqa.

            Basically we all have a religion. Yours is total freedom despite and against every sense of state and reason. Mine is more classical where the state is made by the people and for the people based on reason alone and where religions are suspect. Those are principles that you do not back on. In your view freedom is an absolute per se without rational thinking. If you can think of it you are free to do it. In mine there are limits. The letter of the limits is subject to change but not the essence. Add to this that the French revolution is the first mass anti-religious movement where the masses executed priests, burned churches and confiscated church properties. That revolution was the philosophical base at least in part of most European democracies. The French remain strictly antireligion until today. Respect their secular religion as much as you respect the rest.

            Now in this specific case (again). “The only restrictions on individual behavior ought to be those that are absolutely necessary to protect people from harm and to maintain social order.”

            The burqa in my opinion puts people in harm. Not in some indirect way but in a straightforward way. It puts women in a fkin box. That is a fact based on research and not in vague notions about foreign cultures. Various researches including that of the French government (made by 32 indipendent researchers) established that it is a cruel punishment and against human rights (big surprise). While acknowledging that a small percentage may use the burqa voluntarily the ovewrwhelming majority of women are victims. In this scenario your response is let them deal with it or it will sort itself out, mine is that morally it cannot be tollerated and it should be banned. The good of the majority trumps the good of the minority.

            And that is not about the whole world. It is about here where our culture and our morals are the law. As i am not welcome to drink alcohol in Saudi Arabia, nobody should be allowed to box women in Europe. The nuances of the Quran are indifferent. We are talking about something extremely specific in scope and in geography. That is not paternalistic at all. Unless you consider wearing your seatbelt laws paternalistic too. Or unless you believe that local cultures are indifferent and should accept externals uncritically. That is not the case in Asia (try to impose your uses and traditions in Japan). Why should it be in Europe?
            The US is not doing it either, why do you demand it from others?

          6. Now who is being paternalistic?

            That would still be you.

            “Paternalism is the interference of a state or an individual with another person, against their will, and defended or motivated by a claim that the person interfered with will be better off or protected from harm.” (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

            This debate is going around in circles, and is not getting us anywhere. Ultimately, your position boils down to an assertion that you, and the people who hold the same opinions as you, know what’s best for the women — and in particular the Muslim women — living in your country; so that gives you the right to tell them how to dress. Whereas, my position is that, as long as they’re living in a free society where they have a legal right to dress as they please, and legal protections against domestic abuse, women — including Muslim women — ought to be trusted to make their own decisions about how to dress, without state interference. We can dress this argument up however we like; but, underneath it all, that’s what it’s really about: Paternalism vs. Liberalism: community standards vs. individual liberty; patronizingly telling women what to do vs. letting them make their own choices.

            And it’s clear that we’re never going to see eye-to-eye on this issue, because we have fundamentally different philosophies of government, different ideas about the proper relationship between the individual and the community, and different understandings of what “women’s rights” means (for me, it means letting women make their own choices; for you it seems to mean forcing them to do what you think is best for them). Since we’re never going to change each other’s minds, it’s pointless to continue this debate.

          7. You did not understand my position which is:

            I do not want to impose nothing on muslim women, i want to ban an instrument of hate. This ban is nothing original, it is not religious motivated and happens all the time with behaviours demeaning for a person. My country does it, your country does it and this is precisely why a state is needed. To protect those who cannot protect themselves.

            You think that the burqa is a choise and in that case i could agree with you as i agree with most of your talk about liberalism anyway. But it is not a choice and in that case civil society must step in and protect those women. If that were the case do you agree with me?

          8. I do not want to impose nothing on muslim women, i want to ban an instrument of hate.

            You see the burqa as an “instrument of hate” against women. Many Muslims, including many Muslim women, say it is not. Many Muslims see your proposed burqa ban as an “instrument of hate” against Muslims. You say it is not. Who am I to believe? Why should I take your word for it and not theirs? You haven’t exactly proven your case beyond a reasonable doubt. You have asserted that YOU see the burqa as an instrument of hate, and I believe that you are sincere in that opinion. But sincerity alone isn’t sufficient to transform a subjective opinion into an objective fact. You can assert that the burqa is an instrument of hate as much as you wish; but that still doesn’t prove the truth of that assertion. You have pointed out that many other people share your opinion of the burqa — perhaps even the majority of people in the Western world. But numbers alone do not make an opinion true. The fact that a majority of non-Muslim Westerners see the burqa as oppressive to women does not make it so. In a democracy, policy may be established by majority vote; but truth cannot be. If you are basing your argument in favor of a burqa ban on the claim that the burqa is an “instrument of hate”, you’d better be able to prove the truth of that claim. Thus far, you’ve proved nothing beyond the fact that many non-Muslim Westerners happen to share your opinion. That’s not enough.

            But it is not a choice and in that case civil society must step in and protect those women. If that were the case do you agree with me?

            If you could actually prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, using evidence that would stand up in a court of law (and not merely assertions or statements of opinion), that a woman wearing a burqa has not freely chosen to do so, I would gladly support state action to free her from her oppressor — in fact, to punish her oppressor. But I would not support a blanket ban on the burqa simply because some people find it hateful.

            Obviously, if a woman is required by law to wear a burqa (as in Afghanistan when it was controlled by the Taliban), she is not free to choose. Likewise, if a woman is intimidated into veiling her face by the community she lives in (as in some parts of the Muslim world), she is not free to choose. But if she is living in a free society where she has the legal right to wear whatever she wants, then I have to assume that she DOES wear whatever she wants, unless you can prove otherwise. The mere fact that she’s wearing something that I don’t approve of — or that the majority of the people in my country don’t approve of — is no evidence that she has not freely chosen to wear it. In an oppressive society, we can assume that people are being oppressed. But in a free society, we shouldn’t assume that people are being oppressed unless we have hard evidence to prove it. The mere fact that a woman is wearing a burqa is not hard evidence that she is being oppressed, unless you make the assumption that the burqa itself is inherently oppressive — and that would be begging the question.

            Where there is actual proof that a member of society is being oppressed, the state has the right and the responsibility to intervene to protect that member of society from oppression. But where there is no proof — where there is only opinion, even if it is the majority opinion — state intervention cannot be justified. As Brandeis put it, the people have “the right to be let alone” by their government, which he referred to as “the right most valued by civilized man.” In order to justify violating that most basic of rights, the government must be able to prove that its actions are absolutely necessary in order to protect members of society from actual harm by others — not merely hypothetical harm to some abstract concept such as “women’s rights”, but actual harm to specific individuals — and it must be able to defend its actions using hard evidence, not just opinion or speculation. Advocates of a “burqa ban” have done an excellent job of expressing their opinion that burqas are harmful to “women’s rights” in the abstract; but they haven’t been able to present one shred of hard evidence to prove that actual individuals living in free, Western societies have been harmed in any way as a direct result of people having the freedom to wear a burqa. If there’s evidence of actual harm, then present the evidence — not just your opinion, or expert opinion, or majority opinion; but genuine, hard evidence that would hold up in a court of law. If that evidence existed, I don’t think we’d even be having this debate.

          9. Is this controlled for other factors like the lack of religion in the society? Obviously the best way for a society to rid itself of religious conflict and related problems of religion is for it to be post-religious. An interesting recent study shows that in general the poorest countries are the most religious and the richest the least. The US is an outlier in its prosperity for its religious rate, but even so it doesn’t reach the 99% religious rate of places like Bangladesh, which are the *most* impoverished places.

          10. Interesting. Though I suspect that many Third World countries may be highly religious, in part, because they are poor, rather than being poor because they are highly religious. I haven’t seen the actual statistics, but I’ll bet that the children and grandchildren of immigrants from Third World nations to Western nations are much less religious than their parents and grandparents were. When you’re struggling and suffering, you probably feel a much greater need for religion than you do when you’re living in relative comfort and security. Marx knew what he was talking about when he said: “Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people. “

      2. I agree that the motivation is a bad one, and I oppose “burqa bans” for that reason. Especially since many of the proposed laws want to ban headscarves as well, and they don’t conceal the wearer’s identity at all!

  55. I realize the fuss is about so-called Muslim clothing or whatever. I don’t really understand that bit.

    Underlying this is that people seem frightened of Muslim individuals. I can’t seem to find anyone who will give me a rational reason for this. So we have some terrorist groups in the mideast with axes to grind. Why are they any worse than, let’s say, Christian-based terrorists? IRA? Hutaree? etc.

    Terrorists, pretty much by definition, do not want to draw attention to themselves while they are doing something bad. If you’re dressed in a scary manner, all the people you are trying to kill run away. It’s not a hard principle … is it?

    Somehow I’m reminded of the shooting range test from Men in Black.

  56. You don’t have to accept any religion or culture but you are not entitled to impose your ways on any other people either, especially with regard to wearing an article of clothing. If someone wants to stop wearing a veil she can take it off. If someone wants to wear it she can wear it, unless some misguided government actually wants to impose some kind of criminal sanctions her for wearing an article of clothing. Even if a minority of people who favor such a ban do it out of some kind of misguided idealism and the paradox of taking away freedom to protect freedom, the fact remains the the vast majority want to ban it because they hate and fear Muslims.

    If any of these bans in Europe actually pass I hope that wealthy Muslims put up a huge legal aid fund for women who wish to defy the bans. In the United States it would be just a matter of time before any law against religious clothing would be overturned by the courts. Let’s hope that Europe has the same system of checks and balances and the same safeguards on individual liberty.

    1. I am glad that you live in the only free country of the world where racism is non existent and everyone is free to do as he pleases in complete religious freedom. Where there are no raids in polygamist compounds and nothing happened in Waco Texas on April 19, 1993.

      Obviously you know nothing about European law and somehow without evidence you seem to believe that Muslims in general actually care about defending the burqa to the breaking point.

      Fact (please read)

      “While the Koran and the hadith, the collected commentaries on Muhammed’s life, require Muslims to dress modestly in public, there is, however, no mention of the burqa in these sacred texts. The requirement for modest dress by women, called hijab from the Arabic word for “curtain” or “cover,” is interpreted in diverse ways across the Muslim world, from chadris to no head covering at all.”

      Ad Nauseam: Noone wants to ban modest dresses or headscarves. Religious freedom is guaranteed. Freedom to bizarre and humiliating practices even if loosely based on a religion is not guaranteed.The burqa is not a religious sign. It is a sign of subservience and debasement.

      The misplaced idealism is on your side that you think that claiming religious freedom will give you a free pass to do anything. We have secular states for a reason and that reason is to forbid fundamentalists of all colors to deprive us of hard earned freedom.

    2. If someone wants to stop wearing a veil she can take it off.

      Yes, like many of the more mushy liberal doctrines, this makes perfect sense … if liberals could somehow guarantee that they would stay in power forever, until the end of time. In the real world, other people will be on top once in a while. It should be obvious, and it should not be necessary to point this out, that the reason for banning veils is to prevent the development of a subculture that requires the veil for its female members, that punishes noncompliance in some informal manner, and that might someday become strong enough to require the veil for everybody and punish noncompliance with the power of the state.

  57. No not at all, even though I’d gladly let my wife show off her twins if I get a look at all other women’s! I mean, think about it! But because burqas completely cover the face, it’s really very different issue. It is inherently dehumanizing not to see facial expressions. Not to mention it is a problem in banks and other such areas where extra security and the ability to identify persons is needed.
    I think you had a valid point, but your analogy about toplessness just isn’t very good.

    1. No not at all, even though I’d gladly let my wife show off her twins if I get a look at all other women’s!

      My point was about how it might be disturbing to the woman and you turned it right into the Male Gaze. That pretty much sums up the problem.

  58. Those poor foreign women. Too inferior to know what’s best for them, guess we’ll just have to beat some sense into them until they start to dress the way we think women should.

  59. The woman who commented that she wears a veil and sees nothing political about it has clearly never read Daly’s “Gyn-ecology: The Meta-Ethics of Radical Feminism.” She should understand that anything in a culture which differentiates between the rights of men and women is political. Wear the veil, or don’t wear the veil, but make sure you know all of the implications of that decision. Personally, I would wear one as soon as my husband agreed to, as well.

    On a related note, this morning I nearly threw up over my hotel breakfast when an American tourist walked in wearing a T-shirt that said; “Abu Graib K-9 Unit.” Seeing someone’s racist ugliness on display like that was deeply shocking. I’m hoping he’s back across the border, tucked away safely in his trailer park tonight.

    1. On a related note, this morning I nearly threw up over my hotel breakfast when an American tourist walked in wearing a T-shirt that said; “Abu Graib K-9 Unit.” Seeing someone’s racist ugliness on display like that was deeply shocking. I’m hoping he’s back across the border, tucked away safely in his trailer park tonight.

      Good gods! Where was this? What a fucking shithead.

      1. Kingston Ontario. It made me realize how lucky I was to live in a place where we don’t see this sort of thing. Ever. Thanks for taking the time to call him a ‘shithead’. Makes me feel less alone in my anger.

        1. If I saw that in America I’d probably get beaten up after I called that loser what he deserved. I don’t share your hope that he’s safe in his trailer park; I hope he gets mauled to death by pit bulls. Seriously. What a monstrous failure of humanity (as in being humane; unfortunately for our species it’s all too human to behave that way).

          Too bad you didn’t barf on him.

  60. To xadie:
    “A lot of people are vaguely suspicious of muslims in airport settings. Is that really irrational, given recent statistics regarding muslims trying to blow up airplanes?”

    1.- Were can we find those “recent statistics”?
    2.- Can I fear Catholic Priests due to “recent statistics”?
    3.- Should I fear swimming on the beach due to “recent sharks statistics”? or eating cow meat (mad cow disease statistics), or saladas (e.coli statistics) or talking to a banker (ponci schemes statistics), or a teacher (nympho’s statistics), or wearing my snickers (scorpions statistics)?

    Can I be an ignorant, sexist, racist, bigoted anti-gay-immigrant-muslim-liberal-conservative-you name it if only I am honest and forthcoming about it? Is it a good idea to promote the irrational fears of millions instead of using my education to promote learning, tolerance and peace?

    A LOT of people are stupid, ignorant, bigots, racists and more.
    Is it a good idea to join them?
    At least Juan is cashing-in…
    are you?

    1. Anon@207:

      2. Catholic priests. I think wherever people see Catholic priests, or someone mentions them, they probably think of pedophilia, or make jokes about it. That’s the kind of bigotry we’re talking about here – damning a group for various individuals’ actions.

      3. Yes, avoid shark beaches, mad cow meat and ecoli salads. No on bankers, teachers and Snickers (Tier 2).

      You’re already a bigot – we all are. There are groups of people with whom each of us disagrees with so completely, the mere mention of them summons a negative reaction. We can’t help it. And that’s why calling others bigots, as if we all aren’t, is nothing more than self-righteous bullshit.

  61. You want to talk about garment based bigotry? I’m from rural Texas and I wear a black cowboy hat and black leather boots everywear I go. It’s traditional garb where I’m from.

    Whenever I visit a crowded urban area there are always poor and homeless folks asking for change. And quite frequently I see them approach a person walking in front of me or a person walking behind me, but they’ve never approached me.

    So one day I saw a (presumably) homeless man panhandling and I walked right up to him, put my hand in my pocket and he said “please, sir, I don’t want any trouble!” I just wanted to give him a couple bucks.

    The media frequently portrays the “cowboy” type as a racist pistol-packing redneck that can’t speak proper English. I think Muslims are also negatively stereotyped, both in the news, movies and TV shows. It doesn’t help that we see a picture every week of a bearded Osama Bin Laden wearing tradition Arab/Persian/Afghan clothing and he’s surrounded by militants looking the same. I’ve grown up watching images of Arabic and Muslim people burning the American flag, but I haven’t heard much of their story. Yet how often is it that when we see a Muslim leader in the news trying to explain that most Muslims don’t (or at least didn’t use to) have a problem with America – that particular Muslim is almost always wearing Western attire? I can see how someone could draw a false conclusion – that the “nice” Muslims will wear suits, ties, blue-jeans, and T-shirts, but the “bad” Muslims will wear “traditional” garb.

    It’s a shame that Juan Williams didn’t make himself more clear, but I think he was trying to say that it is easy to latch onto a false stereotype. Instead of addressing the problem head on, people who could make a difference are now going to sweep the issue under a rug, as if wasn’t a problem. I thought that not talking about your feelings and letting them simmer silently deep within is what leads to horrendous acts of violence.

    I think characters in TV shows and movies can help people overcome their prejudices. I think the character Syed from Lost may have had that effect on their audience. After 911 the American population needed to learn that Muslims were not at war with us and I think there are more Americans today who can honestly say they feel less threatened by a Muslim wearing Western style clothing and familiar with Western culture than in the days right after 911. Now what we need are opportunities to show Americans/Westerners that Muslims wearing traditional clothing who may perhaps be less than familiar with pop-American or Western culture are also not a threat. If they were, then God (or Allah) help us – we’d be screwed! We’d be pretty much outnumbered.

    But how can our intellectual leaders recognize and address a real problem if they are not allowed to be intellectually honest?

    1. Anon #210:
      Canadian cowboys can apparently be quite fair in their assessment of a Muslim’s worth. See:

      …for an American view of this.

      Clothing is a clearly matter of personal expression…perhaps even the simplest way to alter one’s consciousness.

      Let there be no legal rules respecting how people dress.

      Any such MUST meet the same stringent tests which we impose prior to the passage of ANY law which would limit people’s liberties and freedoms.

  62. Given the choice of sitting next to someone looking like a Starfleet extra … I’ll take my chances with the guy in a turban.

  63. I’ve been following this thread with interest and both sides of the debate are putting up strong arguments.
    what are peoples thoughts on allowing places like schools, offices etc set their own dress code whether to allow or disallow the veil into their premises?
    Laws allowing dress codes are already everywhere, so it wouldn’t be considered a base for bigotry.
    that way, everybody has a choice.

  64. Not really related, but I’ll try to relate it.

    I can’t find the thing, but I recall seeing this funny spoof newspaper done by the BSG production crew, a newspaper that, among other things, had pictures of Dr. Baltar and Dr. Bashir. The photos of Siddig and Callis were flipped. The photos they picked made them look more alike than they probably do in real life. Heh.

    Here’s how I’ll relate it to the discussion for the bigots:

    Siddig is Sudanese by birth.

    Callis is Russian Jewish by birth.

    The only thing that makes a Muslim any different than anyone else is their faith and customs. Aside from that, they’re every bit as human as every other human on Earth, and for that reason deserve the same level of respect as any other human.

    I’ve been re-watching some Star Trek of late, and have been feeling some of the prejudices that have been building up over the last few years melting away. Thank God (or happy luck) for Gene Roddenberry’s silly little Wagon Train to the Stars story. :->

  65. Any strong emotional event like 911, caused by a particular group of people…..and I will separate out Extremist Muslim Jihadists from the general Muslim population, can raise a fear when a reminder of that event takes place. Juan didn’t say he didn’t think they should be on the plane, he didn’t say he wasn’t going to fly because of them, merely that, dressed in traditional garb, it caused him pause. The fact that there are Muslims who do NOT wear “traditional garb” therefore you can’t cast them as Muslim by their dress DOESN’T mean you can’t tell someone IS Muslim when they DO wear traditional dress. I know Jewish people you can’t tell are Jewish, however is it not rational to assume someone IS Jewish if they are wearing a Yamaka? The vast majority of Americans do not have “fear” of Muslims, but you ask any American who is about to get on a plane, and there is a passenger with traditional Muslim attire boarding with them, if it in fact does NOT evoke a rememberance of 911 and an element of fear. No…..that doesn’t mean we think all Muslims are going to blow up a plane, it’s simply a normal emotional reaction when faced with a visual reminder of the event. Juan merely voiced that natural emotional reaction we ALL have over something. He didn’t act on it…..he didn’t deplane……he didn’t post some kind of warning to the captain. God bless him for being honest about an emotion he admits is irrational. If ANY of you listend to the whole interview in which he made this blown-out-of-context statement, you would know that the vast majority of his comments were AGAINST generalizing and lumping all Muslims into a single terrorist box.

  66. Forgot to log in before I made my last comment, and it appears to have been eaten by a grue.

    I saw a funny fake newspaper made by some of the BSG production crew made to look like a tabloid. One of the “conspiracies” on there were pictures of Dr. Baltar and Dr. Bashir, but with the photos of Callis and Siddig swapped.

    Callis is Jewish, English, born to Russian and Polish parents.

    If I’m understanding right, Siddig was born in the Sudan.

    Both, however, are English actors. Come to that, both are English actors who were on popular sci-fi shows which both had Ronald Moore involved. :-D

    The only thing that separates some Muslims from the rest of the human race are faith and customs. Get that through your thick skulls, bigots.

    (And Siddig’s uncle is Malcolm McDowell???!?)

  67. PS “You have no problem with women covering their breasts or legs out of modesty; but you object if they cover their faces out of modesty. Why? The ONLY difference is that your culture is comfortable with women covering their breasts or legs out of modesty, but is uncomfortable with women covering their faces out of modesty.”

    I do not have an opinion on why people dress like they do. I do not care if they do it out of modesty or because they are cold or because they are whores attracting clients. The fallacy of your argument lies in the belief that i care about religious practices which I don’t. You can believa whatever you want. My opinion on the burqa is based purely on the fact that it is not a simple garment like you make it appear. It is concieved to mortify women and deny them a normal life. I do not see the burqa as a symbol of modesty. There are other means to be modest and 99,9% of the muslims (and christians or jews for that matter) use them.

    You are just being ostensibly liberal against reality. And don’t tell me that reality has a liberal bias ’cause it doesn’t. I leave you with another quote:

    To punish the oppressors of humanity is clemency; to forgive them is cruelty.

  68. The bottom line is: can Muslim immigrants be trusted to run their own lives or do they need to be told what to do?

  69. I was just in a court as a jury member against a young muslim man accused of lying under oath, and he wore a Nike shirt, I didn’t expect him to look like anything special.

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