On Tuesday, the European Court of Human Rights upheld a French law forbidding the wearing of face-covering headgear, including burkas and niqabs, in public. France argued, and the ECHR agreed, that a ban was justified in order to support “social cohesion.” Today the Telegraph ran a piece by the president of the Conference of European Rabbis, Pinchas Goldschmidt, condemning the ruling. He argues that France’s reasoning is unpersuasive and that the ruling should alarm Europeans of all faith. More:
The bans on the building of minarets in Switzerland in 2009 and on wearing a burka, upheld by the ECHR in the last few days, have crossed a red line.My personal view is that to suggest that the particular appearance of a place of worship (of which there were only four across the entire country at the time of the Swiss referendum) could somehow negatively impact on a person in any meaningful way is ludicrous in the extreme.I am also deeply suspicious of claims that a ban on the burka is designed to promote intercommunal relations […]Faith communities around Europe are feeling more and more disaffected and marginalised, not less.
Europe is becoming increasingly illiberal, intolerant of and hostile to religious and non-religious minorities alike. Even as bureaucrats in Brussels profess fealty to progressive ideals, the basic freedoms of many groups they supposedly represent are under threat. The burka ban is the most explicit and egregious manifestation of the new illiberalism but is not the first and it won’t be the last. European Jews, of course, have faced their own discrimination issues in a Europe that is becoming increasingly anti-Semitic. So it’s encouraging to see an important Jewish leader decry discrimination against those outside his own beset fold. If the turn toward illiberalism is be to checked at all, friends of liberty will have to follow Goldschmidt’s example and band together across sectarian lines.