From open values to burqa bans

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Have Europeans lost the habit of tolerance?

torsdag 14. oktober 2010, kl. 18:00

Sal: Berner-kjelleren

Arrangør: British Council og Institute of Ideas

Inngang: Gratis

Debatten er et Battle of Ideas Satellite event som vil foregå utelukkende på engelsk.
I panelet: Nazneen Khan-Østrem (journalist og høgskolelektor), Hans Rustad (redaktør document.no), Brendan O’Neill (journalist og redaktør Spiked online), Merryl Wyn Davies (direktør The Muslim Institute). Ordstyr er Martyn Perks (direktør Thinking Apart). 

Last year, the debate in Norway sparked by a police officer who wanted to wear the hijab as part of her uniform led to the Justice Minister having a breakdown and the burning of veils in the street. Across Europe there appears to be growing intolerance of religious symbols, and Islamic ones in particular.

Are democratic secular values really under so much threat from the tiny numbers of women who wear the full-face veil? What does the demand for bans tell us about contemporary European societies? As Europe faces increasing economic challenge, the energy put into this issue might seem misguided. Although opposition to the veil is often made in the name of women’s rights, some feminists argue it is wrong to focus on the symbols rather than the reality of women’s oppression. They suggest the best way to liberate women is to improve their standards of living, and encourage them to engage more in public life, not to shun them on the basis of their clothing choices.

Is there a danger that such bans will increase intolerance towards Islam? Pushing it out of sight rather than finding a place for it within society? Should modern democracies always be tolerant of religion, or only when religion itself is ‘tolerant’? Is it consistent for liberal states to have illiberal attitudes to what people choose to wear? Are Western countries really at threat from fundamentalism or does the fear of Islam reflect a lack of confidence in the West itself?
Arrangør og tekst : British Council og The Institute of Ideas. Debatten lanserer British Councils Our Shared Europe prosjekt i Norge.
For mer informasjon ta kontakt med arrangør ved Elisabeth Bøe elisabeth.boe@britishcouncil.no