How do some countries make political laws against the burka but not against nun habits?

  • Throughout Europe, in recent years, the issue of the muslim burka and its potential ban has often been discussed.

    I have heard a couple of reasons at most, and they all pretty much sum up to 'burka -> woman oppression -> bad'.

    My question is, how would one then politically and legislatively navigate around the issue of banning the burka specifically, and not any other similar-looking clothing, such as nun habits? And even if one manages to ban the burka specifically and not the nun habit, how would one deal with muslim women throwing away their burkas and wearing the allowable nun habit?

    woman in burka woman in nun habit

    Another good reason is security. Also, a major difference is that nuns usually do not fully cover their face. I think the ban may apply to any kind of clothing that fully covers the face (i.e. masks).

    I wouldn't expect any Moslem woman to wear a nun's habit, as it's clearly associated with another religion so wearing it could be considered defecting Islam.

    Via politics? Namely spin? I don't know if this is really a political question.

    The outfit on your picture is usually called a niqab, not a burka.

    @Relaxed Both are burkas. Some languages have many names for what the English call 'snow.' This is similar: many names in a foreign language - arabic - are covered by one word in English. See also .

    @Sjoerd English doesn't really have any established word for this, both are foreign words that only recently found some usage and people who know a little about the subject do make the difference. But I did write “usually”, this was just meant as an additional piece of information. If you want to take pride in your ignorance, feel free to continue doing it…

    @Alexei That's not a very serious argument and in any case not the way it has been applied. In France for example, it bans outfits “intended to hide the face”. It wasn't intended to ban ski masks, carnival outfits or funny costumes which also hide the face (but only incidentally) and certainly hasn't been interpreted that way.

    @JonathanReez No matter what you think about the phenomenon, this kind of naive thinking is completely beside the point. In France, I would be surprised if many people “arrived” wearing a niqab. Some are converts (2/3rd according to something I read in a daily), other grew up as muslims and later went down a path of religious piety and/or political radicalisation. Apart from some rich tourist caught in the cross-fire, I expect the vast majority to be French citizens born in France.

    Incidentally, I also fully expect wearing the niqab to be a personal, deliberate choice, much more so than wearing another form of hijab, where cultural traditions or family pressure can have a bigger role.

    Since Vatican II nuns more often than not do not wear full habits.

    A bit OT, but do they make an exception for the far north in winter, to prevent frostbite?

    @KeithMcClary An exception for safety reasons - e.g. motor helmet while driving a motorcycle, ski masks while skiing - is routinely included. That should cover frostbite danger.

    Being a nun is basically a job, and the habit is the nun's uniform. The burka (as I understand it) is required for all woman of a particular faith. The two things, although they appear similar, are not directly comparable. Other women of the same religion as a nun are not required (maybe even not allowed) to wear a nun's habit without being a nun.

    @CJ Dennis, The Burka or hijab for that matter is NOT required in Islam. It is Sunnah, meaning recommended. I just wanted to clear this up as most western world thinks it's a requirement as opposed to recommendation.

    A diver's suit looks even more like a niqab and usually isn't prohibited.

    Surely _how_ they ban one but not the other is a **legal** question; _why_ they ban one but not the other is the **political** question.

    "...if one manages to ban the burka specifically and not the nun habit..." I think that is not too difficult. The differences between the two are easily identifiable.

  • Sjoerd

    Sjoerd Correct answer

    4 years ago

    How do some countries make political laws against the burka but not against nun habits?

    The nun habit doesn't cover the face, that's the big difference.

    The usual approach in Europe is to forbid/restrict face covering. Therefore a nun habit usually is allowed.

    The European Court of Human Rights has allowed bans based on that approach, e.g. the French so called "Burka Ban."

    Note that the French ban also prohibit non-religious clothing like this (taken from @Laurent PELE's answer with permission):


    From Wikimedia.

    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.

    Hmm what about ski resorts?

    @Kyslik A ski resort generally isn't public property - but then the nation's roads *are* - and motorcyclists are indeed ordered to wear full helmets now... an interesting contradiction.

    A ski mask whilst skiing or a motorcycle helmet are protective clothing and so is allowable

License under CC-BY-SA with attribution

Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM

Tags used