Iraq And The Islamic State


Standing in my bedroom, the much loved pine bookcase giving off it’s scent of forests mixed with books. The flat is quiet, England is at peace. What a contrast to the situation in Iraq where madmen in the shape of The Islamic State murder and persecute Christians together with anyone else who dares to disagree with their warped view of the world. Mad men doing evil, chaos reigns and I stand, breathing in the smell of books mixed with pine, at peace in a free land.

The other day an acquaintance remarked that they felt uncomfortable in the presence of women wearing the Burka (the cloak worn by some Muslim ladies which leaves only the eyes exposed). France has banned the garment as an affront to equality, a decision recently upheld by the European Court of Human Rights despite the claims by some Muslims that the ban on the Burka in public breeches human rights. Is the prohibition a peculiarly French piece of legislation stemming from Rousseau’s view, expounded in The Social Contract that man “must be forced to be free”, (in this case those Muslims wishing to wear the Burka must subordinate their desire to “the general will” which, in France appears to be in support of the Burka ban?

Some in the UK are calling for the country to go down the French route and prohibit the Burka in the interests of “social cohesion”. One can not, they claim interact with fellow citizens when all but their eyes are concealed behind black cloth. The Burka is “sinister” and should be prohibited in public. Calls for a prohibition on the wearing of the Burka have found support among some muslim scholars who say it has no place in a modern conception of Islam, (see, for example the following recent article

Others argue that banning the Burka runs counter to a long and honourable tradition of British liberty. It is, they say intolerable for the state to dictate to people how they aught to dress. The British philosopher J S Mill was suspicious of what he termed “the tyranny of the majority” and adherents of Mill’s views might well argue that to impose “the general will” or what most people would call “the will of the majority” on fellow citizens as regards how they choose to dress is illiberal. The idea of a person being arrested merely for wearing a certain kind of garment sticks in the throat of many liberals. However other liberals argue that Muslim girls and women often come under intense pressure from within their own communities to wear the Burka and, in many cases it is far from being a free choice of clotheing. Therefore we must assist such women by prohibiting the wearing of the garment in public.

Leaving aside for a moment the rights and wrongs of the Burka there is also the argument of pragmatism. At a time of limited resources is it a good use of police time to go around arresting women for flouting a Burka ban? If such a prohibition where introduced might it act as a recruiting sergeant for Islamic extremists who could portray it as persecution of Muslims?

At a deeper philosophical level can one “force people to be free?” Would prohibiting the wearing of the Burka promote outward conformity with western norms of dress but leave those who wish to wear it inwardly seething with anger?

The advance of the terrorist Islamic State in Iraq undoubtedly helps to fuel suspicion and, in some cases paranoia against Muslims most of whom abhor what is being done in their name in Iraq. We must be steadfast in our opposition to extremism (whether Islamic or otherwise) but, at the same time consider long and hard before going down the road of Burka bans and other similar measures.

5 thoughts on “Iraq And The Islamic State

  1. franklinswritingcorner

    I spent time in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom from late summer 2003 to early spring 2004. Those nine months I was there I was brought to the light of the Islamic and Muslim traditions. Our base was next door to a warlord, who the United States military had to pay to keep on our side and to keep his heavily armed men from attacking our soldiers. Most women, in outskirts of Kabul, wore the Burka’s. I’ve seen some women here in the U.S. wearing Burka’s also, but I don’t get too much nervousness around them. The issue you have to deal with is when they make piercing eye contact with you, especially at a man, which in most cases symbolizes an attack or something sinister. However, with that belief I don’t cringe around those women, but with my experience in the desert I am always somewhat cautious around them.
    The banning of the Burka in France, I believe, was a bad thing to do and could ultimately cause more harm than good. I understand the principle of why they did it, but when you start outlawing religious wear, which to some is their freedom to do so, it can cause tension that you and the citizens are not willing to deal with. The persecution of Christians in Iraq, unfortunately, is only the beginning of what can come if we don’t protect and fight for our religious beliefs. The Middle East, since WWI, have been at turmoil and unsettled ground when the boundaries of nations were drawn. Peace in the Middle East, especially religious peace and freedom, is almost impossible no matter what we do as a nation or as a group. Fighting have been there for years and sadly it will continue for years to come. Religious freedoms are what we live for and express in this country daily or weekly. Our freedoms should not be taken for granted, but in Iraq their safety can’t be taken for granted either.
    So now we have The Islamic State attempting to overrule the Iraqi government and the way of life there to stamp their footprints on how life and practices should be. If this situation is not taken care of, Iraq will be invaded once more and this time whatever nation invades will probably occupy and make the nation their territory. Issues such as these are sensitive and can be debated in a thousand different directions to where we can all agree or disagree with each other trying to prove our point as the right one. However, no matter your religious preference or national allegiance, the issues that surround Iraq and the banning of the Burka, needs to be an example to all of us. I’m afraid if England follows France’s ban on the Burka, in due time and in the long run Europe may see a backlash on that situation that they are not ready to handle and battle.

    1. drewdog2060drewdog2060 Post author

      thanks for your interesting perspective. Your time in Afghanistan must have been a fascinating albeit, on occasions a somewhat hair raising one! I don’t see a ban on the Burka being introduced in the UK anytime soon although there are, as I say in the above post calls for it’s introduction. Interestingly proponents and opponents of a ban come from both the left and right of politics, there is no simple ideological divide on the issue? Are there any advocates of a ban in the USA? The issue of religious freedom is complex in that some claim that young teenage girls wearing the Burka do not, in reality have any choice in the matter as they are indoctrinated and/or compelled by their relatives to put it on. Others argue that most ladies choose to wear the garment out of choice and to prohibit it’s use in public is a denial of individual and/or religious freedom. It is, quite frankly something of a minefield!

      1. franklinswritingcorner

        You are absolutely right about this issue being a minefield. When I was in Afghanistan, we were told to stay on the hard top and not venture out into the desert lands, unless otherwise instructed. Simply because when you venture off the road you will end up going through the minefields left from the Russian-Afghanistan war in the 1980’s. I heard plenty going off in the middle of the day and night when I was there at Bagram Airbase, and many of the kids and animals came to our rear gate looking for help due to their injuries. Same thing with this issue of banning Burka’s, or even the potential of bringing up the idea, will lead you off the hard top road and into the minefields of certain death or serious wounding of the religious freedoms. In the United States, shortly after 9/11, I think some started to raise question about that type of banning, but that got squashed pretty quick. From my experience I have not heard or seen anyone here try to promote that type of restriction, which I think the smart one knows that will hurt them, not only monetarily, but politically and possibly life-threatening. You start messing with people’s religious freedoms and, not only will you be going through a minefield, but you will soon hit an anti-tank mind and destroy yourself. Serving in Afghanistan was an eye-opening experience ,and even though I was raised to appreciate and be thankful for everything, I was more thankful and appreciative much more than what I was before. Majority of the people in the U.S. do not understand and know what it is like being in that part of the world. For some I think they need to go visit there and stay for a long time to better appreciate and understand their thought process and that their religious freedoms and practices are very important to them, regardless of what we think and feel.

      2. drewdog2060drewdog2060 Post author

        Thanks, that is extremely interesting. Islam is a very broad church (no pun intended). I, personally know Muslims who drink alcohol and others who do not. I have also met ladies who, although Muslims and following some of the teachings do not wear any Islamic dress (I have heard arguments that there is nothing in Islam requiring the veil although, again this is a controversial issue. I’m not a Muslim scholar)!

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