In what is being called one of the world's toughest burqa laws, Australia is considering requiring Muslim women to remove their veils and show their faces to the police upon request. The fine for not doing so? One year in prison and to a fine of $5,900.
Only about 2,000 Muslim women in Australia wear burqas. Therefore, this law does more to reveal inherent tensions between Muslim immigrants and mainstream Australian society than it actually protects police officers.
This law does not go so far as to ban burqas entirely, but the repercussions of disobedience are heavy-handed. Sign this petition to join us calling for more flexible and culturally sensitive revisions to this punitive law!
I am writing to express my concern regarding New South Wales's proposed law to require Muslim women to show their faces to police upon request. Maintaining security while ensuring freedom must be done in a culturally sensitive manner, and the proposed punishment of one year in prison and a fine of $5,900 is anything but fair-handed.
The situation is highly reflective of the undeniable cultural clashes occuring in Australian society right now between white Christian Australians and Muslim immigrants. One of the best ways to encourage smooth cultural assimiliation is to not make individual groups feel targeted by strict policies. Mouna Unnjinal, who has driven around Sydney in a niqab for 18 years, states, "It is a religious issue here. We're going to feel very intimidated and our privacy is being invaded." It is important to assuage these feelings of vulnerability by creating cultural exceptions that are simultaneously conducive to Australian values and encourage effective law enforcement practices.
There is no reason why a crime-free environment and freedom of religious expression cannot coexist. I urge the government of New South Wales to make adjustments to this inflexible and ridiculously punitive law.
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