Cuts and Veils: Denmark’s Debates On Religious Practices Demonstrate Cultural Ignorance Due To A Distinct Lack Of Diversity
Religious practices have extend varying degrees of harms and benefits. Last year, the Danish government has debated and subsequently banned a particular religious practice – the wearing of the burka and niqab. In the coming weeks, the same government will consider the banishment of another religious practice – circumcision. I put these topics together because they involve banning religious practices in a society that claims to be relatively neutral when it comes to religion… and where people are supposedly free to practice their religions as they choose so long as it is not harmful.
Of these two practices, only one of them is inherently harmful and that is circumcision. I have no doubt that the Danish courts will decide to ban circumcision due to its harm against children. However for medical necessity, it will likely still be allowed. In fact, the proposal to be debated is written in such a way that only medically necessary cases of circumcision will be allowed.
The small Jewish population in Denmark has spoken out against this, of course. I anticipate some interesting arguments regarding the subject before a decision is made. But it is safe to say that there is no factual account for why circumcision on children who cannot consent should be permitted in a religious ritual.
The arguments against the burka and the niqab are very different. No harm is being done here. The Danish government believes otherwise. And so does the Danish population in general. They aren’t alone. France, Bulgaria, Latvia, the Netherlands, Norway, and several other European countries either specifically ban the Islamic dress or Now, we are talking about less than 1% of women who practice Islam in Denmark also take on this particular dress. So keep that in mind. The Danes, like many others, suggest several things. First, wearing something that covers the face hides one’s identity. This supposedly does not provide a good environment for “integration” for those who are immigrating to Danish society. Second, hiding one’s face and one’s identity is somehow dangerous. Third, one could be hiding something dangerous underneath this style of dress.
The counterarguments are obvious. The first might have the most strength and this is the one the Danish government has relied on most heavily. They have an obsession with immigrant “integration” so much so that it borders on forced conversion. So, we will start with the third point. Obviously, anyone can hide anything under numerous different styles of clothing. These are really not much different. A large bag, a winter coat, a long dress, a headscarf not worn for religious purposes – one can hide any number of things on one’s body. Religious garb not necessary. Denmark is not about to ban clothing.
To the second point, if one is so worried about identity, why have other types of face coverings not also been banned? It is the cultural element of the first point. In Denmark, face masks for health, weather, and festivities are still allowed. If requested, they must be removed. Yes, at karneval, you can run around in a Guy Fawkes mask. But if someone asks to see your face, you must show it – but you can put it back on afterwards. No fines for you. But if it’s a burka? You will be fined. Because it is a symbol of something the Danes simply cannot have.
This brings us to the first point. Apparently covering one’s face is simply incompatible with Danish society. Now, when people come to Denmark, there is an overwhelming burden to assimilate to Danish society. However, I have noticed that there is absolutely no class, no guide, no pamphlet, no nothing for how Danes should welcome people from different cultures. There is a very distinct stubbornness that if you come here and want to stay here, you must leave your life behind you – whatever it was – and become Danish. The politicians say that the face covering prevents proper communication. But I have yet to meet a Dane who is a stranger who is willing to try to communicate well with me – a white skinned, blonde haired, blue eyed, large breasted woman – beyond the basic niceties. I have seen the looks given to those with dark skin and headscarves and how they are ignored. No, the Danes do not ban the burka and the niqab on the basis of it preventing being able to see someone’s face. The Danes simply do not wish to try to learn the subtleties of understanding cultures that are truly foreign to them.
Another point that they try to argue is that the Danish government believes that no woman wears this by choice. So, rather than even bothering to ask, they force them to remove it or to pay fines. Or, I suppose, to leave Denmark. Which, really… I think is what they want.
All of this comes from a very distinct problem that I see in Denmark. It is not a particularly diverse country. It boasts a supposedly religiously unaffiliated society. However, many of its citizens are baptised in Christian churches and many Danish citizens celebrate a variety of Christian and Pagan holidays. Just ask them about burning the “witches” at midsummer. Most claim to lack religious affiliation despite celebrating holidays and participating in these rituals. Rather, these are seen as simply just being “Danish” – not being Christian. But this is a complete denial. Religion is very entwined with Danish culture.
They would be well off to admit to it that they are not interested in “integration” but in conversion. After all, it is the land of the Vikings. You either submit or you die. But now they are more peaceful. Now you either submit or you pay or you leave.