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An historic and unique opportunity!

What a paradox! The burka ban initiative originated from a committee not known for its love of Islam, to say the least. However, I am convinced it represents a historic opportunity for the majority of Muslim Swiss citizens like me. 

This content was published on February 24, 2021 - 14:00
Mohamed Hamdaoui

The day of the vote, whatever our levels of religious belief we will finally have the opportunity of saying “no” to Muslim traditionalists, whether they are Salafists, Wahabis or belong to the Muslim brotherhood (I put them all in the same basket). And this by simply accomplishing our civic duty – which is the envy of so many – by casting a vote. 

We are not naïve. The authors of the text are surfing on fears stemming from the September 11 terrorist attacks and subsequent monstrous copycats in Madrid, London, Paris, Nice or Berlin. The list is sadly incomplete. We very often forget the corpses which are regularly added to the list from the weekly attacks in markets in Kabul, Baghdad and too many other places. These acts are were commissioned by men that look down on women and treat them as nothing but child bearers. All this in the name of our religion. 

Burkas and niqabs are more than just clothes. They cannot be compared to leggings or mini-skirts. They are the symbol of a monstrous ideology. They cover the face of the women wearing them. These women find themselves de facto cut off from the rest of the world and cannot dialogue with people they cross on the street or meet. Should they decide to wear this item of clothing voluntarily they have to accept that are willing prisoners. Should they be forced into wearing them, they are condemned to become slaves.

This enslavement by clothing represents a deadly ideology which is not compatible with our democratic values and our model of civilisation. I am not ready to sacrifice these for the sake of a certain vision of multiculturalism based on glorifying cultural relativism and a communitarian drift. 

How sad it is for me to read and listen to certain important opinion leaders - normally ready to jump and fight populism and fascism - give up in the face of our common enemy. 

Before being Muslims, we are citizens, happy to live in a country admired worldwide for its democratic system. By inking the burka ban in the federal constitution, we can seize a historic opportunity to openly show our solidarity with those in countries that risk their lives on a daily basis for refusing to wear this horrific garment. We also want to proclaim aloud that we never want to be compared with criminals that shout “Allahu Akbar” before shooting a Jewish girl in the head in Toulouse in 2012 or the French cartoonist “Cabu” in 2015. 

Mohamed Hamdaoui is a journalist and the Social Democratic Party representative for the city of Biel and the Bern cantonal parliament.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of SWI swissinfo.ch.

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