Burqa Ban

Burqa Ban


Much controversy has been concocted in the media about the wearing of a traditional Islamic clothing for women, the burqa (also known as ‘burka’).


The views on this matter vary depending on location and/or opinion, for example that of the leader of the One Nation Party, based in Australia. The One Nation Party is a right-wing populist party, founded in 1997, and led by Pauline Hanson, who has proven to have quite stern views on the burqa, concerning its presence in the field of government. In order to make a point, Hanson wore this Islamic wear into the chambers, and described the situation as ‘really horrible’ and ‘uncomfortable’. She further stated that the burqa is ‘not what should belong in parliament’, thus dismissing her acceptance of wearing the burqa on political grounds.

Image result for burqa

In terms of location, the wear of a burqa is permitted in some places (part ban), while some countries do not allow it to be worn at all (full national ban). One of these countries include Switzerland, where a fine of €10, 000 is used as a penalty for violating this particular law.


UKIP (UK Independence Party) also wants the banning of the burqa, some may say a predictable opinion to have, due to their past views on certain controversial ethical topics. A few of these may be Nigel Farage, leader of UKIP, who is proposing to ban those with HIV from the UK and to legalise handguns.


In December 2017, Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany since 2005, has said that ‘the full covering… should be banned’. In European countries such as France, Belgium and The Netherlands, the burqa has already been banned in places such as schools, hospitals, and on public transport.


Another controversial figure in the burqa debate is Boris Johnson, the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs in the UK. In a column in the Daily Telegraph, Johnson described the burqa as ‘oppressive’, ‘weird’ and as not having any ‘scriptural authority… in the Qu’ran’ (the Islamic holy book).  He further compared the women who wear them as looking like ‘letter boxes’ and ‘bank robbers’, giving a sense of criminality to these Muslim women.


Many lashed out at Johnson’s blunt comments, one key figure being Mohammed Amin, the Chair of the Conservative Muslim Forum. ‘Boris is an educated man, he should know better’.


Christine Hamilton was another one of those who responded to Johnson’s comments in the Telegraph. As an English media personality, and a prominent supporter of UKIP (along with her husband), her response was acknowledged by a large number of people. Posting a photograph of the KKK (Klu Klux Klan), she captioned it: ‘If the #burka is acceptable then presumably this is too?’ Here, Hamilton is comparing a violent, racist movement targeting black people in the US to the international religion of Islam. Many replied in disagreement to Hamilton’s social media comment.


As Islam continues to be targeted in the media as a violent religion, and a large number Muslims continue to be verbally and physically abused on the street, decisions on the ‘burqa ban’ are ongoing, and could affect multiple Muslim women worldwide.


The position religion holds in modern Europe

Over the last few thousand years, ever since the dawn of the first civilizations, our ancestors were desperately craving for an explanation  of their surroundings and macrocosm (1).To do so, they had created an innumerable amount of gods in order to satisfy their need for order and security. This has left a great mark on our history and from their creation and survival, nowadays beliefs have emerged to become worldwide dominant religions. This itself, has shaped and developed the way we understand the world and the people around us. We see how these changes have affected us, but the bigger question is- how it will affect us in the future…

According to a research made in 2015 about self-described religious/non-religious perception in the European Union, 71.6% of the people consider themselves Christians, non-believers/Agnosticism makes for about 13.6% on the statistic; Atheism takes 10.4% while Islam is about 1.8% and other religions- 2.6% ( the statistic has been taken from an Eurobarometer survey (2) made in 2012).Having these religions and convictions on the territory of our prosperous EU, today’s society has been greatly influenced in more ways than one- art, music, culture, law and even cuisine are all due to people’s perception, projected through their belief system or in other words-religion.

However, before making any assumptions about the dominant faith in the Union, that is, of course Christianity, we ought to take into account the refugee crisis happening in this very moment with its main mindset- Islam. Bringing these people on European lands and having them crossing our borders, there is no doubt, and I truly believe it, that in 10 years or so, there will be upcoming changes in the jurisprudence system, dress code and ultimately- in our every-day-life and hopefully, these changes will be for the better!

There are two kinds of these people, entering our alliance- the ones who are trying to escape the horrors and nightmares of war and those so called ”economic immigrants’’. Now the question is- how are we supposed to help hundreds of thousands of people, flooding across our borders with their families, belongings and hopes for a better life, seeking peace and safety , because it directly concerns religion, but before we answer that, we have to completely examine the situation- in fact, more and more refugees are actually economic immigrants, seeking the benefits and utility of our European Union’s social help services -”According to the available statistical data, at the end of the third quarter of 2017, authorities in Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Spain and Cyprus registered 146,287 newly arrived migrants – less than half of the total arrivals recorded by the end of September 2016 (322,299). Overall decrease is mainly due to the significant drop in arrivals through the Eastern Mediterranean route, namely Bulgaria and Greece (96% and 86% respectively). However, when analysed closely, these two countries have rather diverse monthly and quarterly dynamic in arrivals between 2016 and 2017.” (The information is taken from The Migration Flows to Europe, provided by the UN Migration Agency (3)).And even though most of the the people are the victims of these tragic events, there is still this percentage of them, whose intentions were, initially and still are, fully profitable.

We seek co-operation. It is obvious that we have to show empathy for the terrors most of these people had to endure, because it is not only our moral right, but also- our human obligation. However, the process works in both ways and they will also have to show respect and regard for the way we choose to live by or in other words- make some adjustments to their characters in order to improve themselves if they are planning to stay, study, work and live here. If they are the victims, trying to escape the terror and chaos they were made to endure, aren’t they the ones to be understandable and happy we have offered them safety? A society that prohibits its women from working and voting does not correspond with our understanding of values and human rights. Such mindset should not be allowed on our territory. You see , these people have to help themselves first, so that we can help them subsequently.

Due to our millennial- long religious and traditional differences, I propose- and this is possibly the best solution for the ongoing crisis- integration, and to be more specific- the integration of these people into our social, political and economic sphere. Integrating them in our educational system in order to learn the language, traditions and history of the country, in which they want to stay into; integrating them into our economic system, so that they can assist and supply the state’s economic sectors ( primary, secondary and tertiary ), but also those of the EU’s as well and lastly- integrating them into our law and political system, when of course, they meet the requirements and are fully aware and qualified for the position on which they will be applying for. In other words – they will have to adjust themselves to our political and juridical system in order to not only vote , but to also represent themselves if they happen to participate in a political election. In this way, we shall make these people fully authorized citizens on the territory of our European Union and prepare them for the future – a future which they will be ready for.

Without a doubt, not everyone will agree or even try to acknowledge the positive side of these transitions, because xenophobia or simple antipathy are not uncommon, but what people must realize, is for without these changes, I fear that racial and ethnical tension and cultural collision with the local population will be inevitable. Moreover, according to the EU Law system – ”Discrimination on the basis of religion is strictly prohibited under European law”. This is maybe one of the biggest and greatest challenges the European Union has faced up to in 21st century, concerning the belief system of all European

As I said, our society has been enormously influenced by the belief and moral systems of all the people, working and living under the protection of the EU. We might all be different, that including gender, race, nationality, ethnicity etc. and believe in different projections of God, including me too, but there is one thing that we all have in common- our human passion, which unites and bonds us together. We cannot stop change- it’s in the natural order of things to not be at one state and to alter, but it is upon us and only us not only to make these changes for the better of our Union, but to also ensure the well-being of the future generations that are yet to be born. Jesus was not a Christian, Mohammad was not a Muslim and Buddha- not a Buddhist. They were teachers who taught love and respect. Love was their religion.

Compassion, peace and tolerance are essentially what a religion has to stand for, in order for us to accept it- among our hearts and ourselves, and we must not stand for anything else, rather than these values. Religion has helped and guided us throughout our history and in our darkest times and there is no reason to believe that this won’t continue in the future. As a great man (4) once said- ”We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell again when touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature”.


About the author:

Radoslav Stefanov (17) goes to high school in Sofia. He is a member of the Working Group Religion. He likes to study languages, especially English and Spanish, and recently started learning Hebrew too. Whenever he has free time he goes to the gym, as his life motto is ‘A sound mind in a sound boudy’.



  1. macrocosm: the whole of a complex structure, especially the world or the universe, contrasted with a small or representative part of it
  2. https://web.archive.org/web/20121202023700/http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/ebs/ebs_393_en.pdf
  3.  http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/population/migration/index.shtml
  4. That great man would be Abraham Lincoln

How is religion represented in the media?

How is religion represented in the media?

When talking about the representation of religion in the media, it is important to ask oneself whether and how these stories affect the understanding and attitude towards specific religions.

Usually, when the media reports about religion, it is shocking news about a crisis, a scandal, conflicts, or violence in the name of religion. This makes sense when considering that bad news receives more attention than everyday news. Also, it is the media´s responsibility and duty to report on this negative news about religious leaders and communities as well as on good news in order to inform about injustice. However, journalists need to reflect about what they write to not misrepresent entire religions.

Christianity is the most and in general best represented religion. Since the 1980s, references to Islam have increased a lot so that it has become the second most represented religion in the media. The majority of these references is framed around negative news relating to terrorism and/or extremism.

One of the problems when representing religion in the media is that sometimes bad stories about one certain religion dominate, even though it is only a small number of people that is responsible for it. This can confirm the prejudices of many people, can lead to a series of stereotypes, distrust, suspicion and to a misrepresentation of the beliefs of numerous people of an entire religion.

About the author:

Paulina (19) took part in the “My Europe” workshop in Vienna, Austria, in 2013 and became a member of the Youth Council for the Future. Personally she is interested in reading, swimming, playing the piano and cooking. Professionally Paulina would like to become a pilot in the future.

Religious Education

Religious education : something to be taught in the private family circles or something that belongs in the public classroom ? For some countries like France school and religion shouldn’t have anything to do together whereas in some states in Germany religion is handled as a mandatory subject at school.

Who is right ?

I spent my whole school time in a french school in Munich Germany. I so have been raised in a setting where religion and school were strictly separated. Religion is treated as a private thing which has no place in the public domain of school education. And I understand it. Religion is our outmost privacy: wether you are a christian, jew, muslim or atheist, it is what personally relates you to god and your beliefs. Also the separation of religion and State gives us the assurance that education doesn’t favor or discrminate any kind of religion

But we also have to take into consideration that religion is also a big part of culture. The Notre Dame in Paris, the Blue Mosque in Istanbul or the Dohány Street Synagogue in Budapest are all buildings that are culturally and religiously relevant. They are the result of centuries of beliefs that integrated themselves in our everyday culture and make for some of the most beautiful landmarks we have in Europe. It therefore seems all the more shocking that once I graduated from highschool I knew close to nothing about our constantly surrounding religions.

So is teaching religion in schools the right way to go?

We can take the example of Germany where religion classes are mandatory in most States. They teach the beliefs and traditions of one specific religion, most often christianism. However there are also classes teaching about Islam or Judaism so that people who do not affiliate to christianity still can pursue a religious upbringing. If the kid does not express himself as belonging to any religion or to none of the religion taught, the parents can also disengage their kid of religion classes by having an official meeting with the school’s headmaster. Every school is then responsible to offer a separate non-religious class in exchange.

This kind of religious education seems however to be a quite tunnel-visioned view as the classes stay limited to one religion and are designed in a religious setting rather than a purely educational one.

Which solution seems to be the right one then ?

I think neither of them. In a as religiously diverse social setting as we are in now in Europe, we have to acknowledge the importance of knowledge about these different religions. Therefore, I believe that there is a need for an impartial class on religion, so that the fundamentals of religion are acquainted by the time a student reaches his majority. Something like the Ethic classes in Germany. The goal is not to brainwash students into another religion or ensure a religious upbringing in any kind, it should rather be designed as a classic school teaching explaining the different religions by exposing the facts; much like a history class. It might be a step forward to build up tolerance towards different cohabiting religions and deconstruct false stereotypes about them. It might even be a step towards a more harmonial Europe.

About the author
Clara (20) took part in our “My Europe”workshop in Munich in 2013. She is one of the winners of the international writing contest from the workshop and has been actively representing the voice of young Europeans through the “Youth Council for the Future” (YCF). She is the Project Coordinator of the Working Group on Religion. Clara is currently studying at SciencesPo Paris Campus Nancy She likes to write and play basketball.