Obscene, Not Religious

Here’s another item about banning the burka, this time from the well-known Austrian opinion writer Christian Ortner. In his op-ed Mr. Ortner discusses the recent ECHR decision concerning a Belgian ban on full-face veiling.

Many thanks to JLH for the translation from Wiener Zeitung:

Obscene, Not Religious

The European Court of Human Rights declares laws banning full covering for women to be permissible — and that is good.

by Christian Ortner

Is it permissible in a liberal democracy for the state to legally stipulate how women are to dress — and especially how not to dress — in public? Under certain circumstances, absolutely, decided the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg the week, thereby confirming the Belgian state’s right to criminalize full veiling of women in public. A Muslim woman had entered a complaint against this 2011 law and was rejected by the highest European court.

This has relevance for Austria too. A very similar regulation, forbidding especially wearing the niqab and the (less frequently seen) burka, goes into effect here on October 1st. The chances that this law will be nullified by the European Court are therefore next to nil. And that is good.

The sight of a woman more or less compulsorily fully veiled is nothing less than obscene. It is a good thing for legislators to put end to this obscenity, at least in public. Even though liberals must naturally respect the right of every person to decide how he or she will dress. That is, in and of itself, of no interest to the state, like so much else.

In the case of full veiling, or course, we are dealing not only with clothing, but above all with a symbol of a fascistic, violence-prone and deeply misogynistic ideology, i.e., political Islam in a particularly radical manifestation. The niqab and burka belong to a nasty ideology, as SS uniforms belong to National Socialism. Both are a political statement, if not a profession of loyalty.

There is good reason that it is forbidden here to saunter through the Kohlmarkt[1] in an SS uniform; and with equally good reason, it should be forbidden to symbolically occupy the public space with the vestments of Islamism.

Symbols of the Islamic State are likewise banned. The argument that this contravenes the constitutional right to freely practice one’s religion does not apply. First, no woman is even close to being prevented from practicing her religion just because she will henceforth have to show her face in public. Second, nowhere in Islam is there a commandment for full veiling.

The objection that the state doesn’t have any other regulations for clothing in public is without substance. Anyone who believes that should try taking a walk along Mariahilferstrasse[2] stark naked, and find out what the police and then the courts will do. Even today, in a system of political freedom, it is natural for the state to intervene in the freedom of dressing as one pleases.

Political Islam is attempting to turn the liberalism of the West against it. The European Court decreeing unity in this matter is good news.


1.   Vienna’s priciest shopping district, stretching from Michaelerplatz to Graben.
2.   (inner and outer) Mariahiferstrasse, Vienna’s largest shopping district, beginning at the Ring and stretching out beyond the Belt.

11 thoughts on “Obscene, Not Religious

  1. Ayaan Hirsi Ali thinks that dealing with Islam by going after the small potatoes is a mistake. Go for the root.

    And I am wondering if the the first amendment is not quite right. Everyone should be free to believe anything they deem right to believe, and speak about it, without fear of persecution. But not every “religious” practice ought to be protected. If a religion stipulated cannibalism, should we protect that practice? If another religion stipulates the killings of dogs, should we protect it? If it practices abusing certain groups of people, should we protect it? Of course not. There are religious practices that are either abhorrent, publicly disruptive, demeaning, or meant to dominate/intimidate others. Why should any of it be protected?

    • The constitution merely forbids government from making any law concerning the establishment (support) of a religion. It does not mandate giving any religion the right to ignore existing laws.

      I would argue that the courts and legal precedents have turned the amendment on its head. Any legal privileges or special shielding of religious practice from legal requirements binding on others is, to my view, quite obviously giving specific support to a religion.

      By the Constitution, the government cannot give financial support to a religion, give special privileges to a religion, or forbid the practice of any religion. That should cover it. Giving religious institutions special exemptions or tax breaks is, to my mind, unconstitutional. And I’m not opposed to traditional religions, but I am a strict Constitutionalist.

    • I largely agree that this is “small potatoes”. In fact, I think that it’s counterproductive: by going after / hiding a *symptom* of the problem, it makes the problem seem less severe.

      It’s also most personally intrusive, just like going after burqinis.

      I would start with banning further immigration of such types as #1 priority. The ones that are already “here” are much harder to deal with. For that, I’d try various incentives. I might also adopt a “no shoes, no shirt, NO SERVICE” type of attitude to dressing in this style, but I wouldn’t forbid it outright. I’d also have 100% state support for anyone who wants to leave the burqa cult.

      I do find it interesting that in “Trump’s America”, nobody in power would even *think* of banning such things. It’s too much at the personal level, and I don’t think that this is productive.

      Don’t anyone mistake me for a “Liberal”. In the world that I would run, would that lady decide to take off her burqa and make up for lost time by going clubbing every night, she would do so without fear. The things I would do to anyone involved in an honour crime would be such that they’d think twice before even discussing it.

      And burqa or not, none of her daughters would be getting FGM’d either. Nor have fear of it. Not unless dad felt like undergoing a subsequent penectomy. It wouldn’t be my first choice of method for how to deal with the problem, but if nothing else got it under control, I’d go there.

      I’d basically treat it like a cult. Causing a persecution complex to get worse won’t help. Providing safe ways out for doubters *will* help.

      The day will come when burqa-lady has had enough of being burqa-lady. She’d be one call away from a new life at that point.

      Oh, and making your daughter wear that would be grounds for ending up in foster care if the daughter complains about it.

      And so on.

      • It’s still good to ban burqa. It should not be left to personal choice to leave it. Burqa facilitates the crime and fraud identity.

  2. The right to practice one’s religion does not include the profession of the truth of a political religion – a belief system which incites public authorities to rebellion against Our Lord Jesus Christ.

    • What on earth are you talking about? Rebellion against Jesus? What authorities are supposed to obey Jesus? None in a secular republic. Or maybe you think you are living in Gilead.

  3. View this ruling cynically, as merely a palliative measure that provides the ruling class a rare thing: some semblance of the rational thought their critics have in abundance.

    Clearly the problem now contained looms on: once the Islamic population has increased enough under the EU’s undeterred multiculti strategy, the court will “feel” compelled to reverse itself on this and in much much more.

  4. “Second, nowhere in Islam is there a commandment for full veiling.” Irrelevant. As said above, just because a horrible act is called ‘religious’ we should not necessarily accept it.

  5. The sight of a woman more or less compulsorily fully veiled is nothing less than obscene.

    Finally! How excellent to see someone realize that flaunting a symbol of oppression and inequality is totally offensive. A man may as well make his wife walk around in manacles and leg irons. In the past few years I have seen women on the streets of my city in full burka and it made me want to vomit.

    One of them was accompanied by three other men as they left a building to drive away. Guess who got behind the wheel? The woman, who’s costume limited her visual awareness way beyond what would I consider to be legal limits. It was a total outrage.

Comments are closed.