Religious Intolerance in Western Countries

There are 20 countries that have banned the burka, a variation of the head coverings for Muslim women. Some of these countries include what are considered to be first world countries, such as France, Germany, Denmark, and most recently Switzerland, who banned the niqab and the burka on March 7th, 2021.

Fatima Al-Saedy, a junior at Copper Hills, wears a hijab as part of her faith. Upon hearing of Switzerland banning the burka and the niqab, she said, “It was to the point of just ‘Europe is so obsessed with us, another country banned it,’ but then I discovered it was Switzerland, which is supposed to be so neutral, why did they have to take a stance on it?”

In 2020, over 900 Islamophobic crimes were reported in Germany, and France has seen a 53% increase in Islamophobic attacks. On March 14th 2021, Muslim elementary Alsalamskolan School in central Sweden was attacked early in the morning.

France has seen a 53% increase in Islamophobic attacks in 2020. “France would be scary to go to,” Fatima said. “As a Muslim, as a hijabi, that place is too scary. They’re banning halal food, they’re banning certain kinds of hijabs. When you go there, you know that you would have a horrible time, you would be hatecrimed, and possibly even killed.” 

She continued, “It’s kind of scary, just because people are so obsessed with a piece of cloth. It’s just cloth, what are we going to do? It’s my hair that I choose to cover, it’s my choice. What am I going to do by choosing to cover my face? What am I going to harm you with?”

European countries are not the only ones showing Islamophobia. Australian Senator Pauline Hanson has a history of white supremacism and Islamophobia. In mid August 2017, Hanson walked into a Parliament meeting wearing a black burka, and when she pulled it off she stated, “I’m quite happy to remove this because it’s not what should belong in this parliament.” 

Hanson’s controversial antic received negative responses from other members of Parliament. She attempted to gain positive acknowledgement from Attorney-General George Brandis, whose negative and offended response to Hanson’s stunt received a standing ovation from other members of Parliament, excluding Hanson.

One thing these countries have in common is religion. The predominant religion in these places is Christianity, more specifically, Catholicism. So why hasn’t there been a ban on the veil and coif nuns wear? Why aren’t these headscarfs seen as weapons of oppression and associated with terrorism? Fatima stated, “They know what those veils mean to them, but they pretend those veils don’t mean the same to us.”

As a closing statement, Fatima said, “I wish people would talk to a woman who wears a hijab or a burka, and just ask instead of assuming what she wants. Instead of saying ‘she’s being oppressed,’ realize that you’re oppressing us. We keep saying that we’re not oppressed, but nobody listens.”