Face Veil Ban

Face Veil Ban
It has been the topic of discussion for many years: how many civil and domestic liberties will we give up in the name of security? Recently, Australian House Speaker, Bronwyn Bishop ordered the removal of all religious coverings in open public galleries of the House of Representatives and the Senate. Bishop also ordered anyone refusing to remove their religious coverings to be redirected to holding galleries encased in a sound-proof glass, which are usually reserved for noisy or disobedient schoolchildren. He deemed these actions necessary security measure for the protection of Australia’s governmental figures and public. This is clearly an abuse of power on Bishop’s part and potential breach of federal anti-discrimination laws, the same laws aimed at preventing such extreme cases from happening. Belittling a specific religious group, forcing them to either go against their religious beliefs or be directed into a “sound-proof” glass box like an animal, is in many ways the dehumanizing of individuals because of their beliefs. To initiate the separation and divide of a population because of religious aspects like a “covering” is by definition religious segregation. One may go as far as to interpret these actions as anti-Muslim measures being disguised as “security measures.” I feel as though the Australian government has let its people down by allowing this restriction. To take a group of Australians, who practice a certain religion and put them in the unfortunate situation where them must either choose to disobey what they believe in, or be forced into a holding gallery, is just unacceptable. There is an argument as to the fact that security measures must be taken for the good of the public; however, to force a specific religious group to go against their religious traditions and ways of life for an un- measurable security improvement is in many ways unethical. Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott acknowledged these abuses of power, and Bishop was asked to “rethink that decision.” Two weeks following its initiation, the ban was lifted. For the time being, religious coverings will still need to be removed at security checkpoints in the House of Representatives and Senate. Religious coverings will continue to be a topic of discussion when public safety is brought to light; however, a line must be drawn as to how far we will go in the name of security.
HJS #200


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