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Thursday, September 28, 2023

Bernard Brščič: Assunta, The Prohibition of Burqa and the Ragged Trousers

In my conceptual world, the Assumption of Mary will always be associated with the famous altarpiece panel painting of Titian, coloquially called L’Assunta, which had been ordered by the Franciscan order in 1518 and still remains on the high altar of the Basilica Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari in Venice.

Even if the individual is nothing else but a catholic agnostic or a cultural catholic, the abundance of the colours blue and red, the radiance of the Madonna in the sunlight and the beatitude of the Apostles, when looking up at Her being transposed into Heaven, can cause the general enthusiasm. Just as the corporeality and agitation are predominant down on the Earth, between the Apostles, that gradually change into the calmness of the spirit of Our Lady, so one can perceive that there are also shadows down there, shadows which recede into the light at the apex of the aforesaid altarpiece. Ludovico Dolce was quite right when he elevated the Titian’s L’Assunta into a synthesis wherein »the grandeur and the terribilità of Michelangelo, the pleasantness and the grazia of Rafael are combined with the vivacious colours that only the nature is capable of producing«. The Assumption of the Virgin by Titian proves in a most beatiful way to what a high degree the European civilisation is marked by the Christian tradition. In a theological sense, we may have killed God already in the 19th century, but in a cultural sense Europe has always been, is and will be Christian. Or Europe will cease to exist.

The Assumption of the Virgin or the 15th of August is a holiday, but not a national one in the Republic of Slovenia. Our social order is a secular one, in which the state and the religious communities are separated. The catholic and protestant religious communities have the privilege of celebrating the Easter Monday, the Pentecost, the already mentioned Assumption of the Virgin, the Reformation Day and Christmas as holidays. Which terribly bothers the Muslims and the multikulti left-wingers. Likewise, they also find the illumination of churches and bell tolling troublesome. They ask themselves why the grunting of the muezzin is not appealing to us, when he invites the worshippers to prayer or ezan, or why the dabiha or the halal-slaughter of the animals is forbidden or still why the Ramazan Bayram, Eid al-Adha, Mawlid or New Hijra (Islamic New Year) are not celebrated as holidays as well. They ask themselves why the majority of us, the Slovenians, are opposed to women bathing in burkini in public pools and baths and why the people do not like the burqa, the niqab and the hijab to be worn in public places. The unreflected, yet the concise answer would be, because Slovenia still has not become Slovenistan or »a fucking Muslim shithole«. Article 3 of the Slovenian Constitution says that »Slovenia is a state of all its citizens and is founded on the permanent and inalienable right of the Slovenian nation to self-determination«. Slovenians are the constituitive nation of this state, Slovenia is a national state, fatherland to Slovenes. And because we, the Slovenes have never been Muslims, the expectations and demands of the Muslim religious community in Slovenia and of their multikulti collaborators are unjustified. Q. E. D.[1]

This kind of simplified explanation is not sufficient. In the Article 41 of the Constitution, freedom of religious practice in public and private life is guaranteed. This is one of the fundamental human rights. According to the assurances of the Muslims, the wearing of burqa, niqab or hijab is the free choice of Muslim women, who symbolically manifest their faith by veiling and covering themselves up. In a similar way that we do not interfere with our youth’s strange habits of wearing ragged trousers, of having tattos or piercings made, so should the Muslim women be allowed to be dressed according to their fashion. I don’t think so. Although wearing ragged trousers can cause somewhat negative esthetic externalities to be seen, in a free society fashion tastes and choices are not subjects of debate. But the questions concerning the wearing of hijabs, niqabs and burqas exceed this debate of fashion and address the crucial questions of the liberal-democratic system. These questions have already been resolved in France, Belgium and Denmark. In a restrictive way.  Fifteen years ago in France, the commission of my namesake Bernard Stasi has adjudicated in the so-called affaire du foulard that hijab as a religious symbol does not belong into school, defined as a public place. Wearing hijab in Belgium and in Denmark is not legally forbidden, but a more austere ban of wearing facial veils in all public places is in force in both of the aforementioned countries. Belgian law has already been subject to a test in the European Court of Human Rights, while in Denmark the lawmakers have started to issue a 1000 kroner (140 euros) high fines to those Muslim women who wear niqab or burqa in public places.

In the matter of wearing the Muslim articles of clothing, the state should not remain neutral. Islam is diametrically opposed to liberal-democratic order. Islam is not a religion, it is a dangerous totalitarian ideology, under the mask of religious belief that is incompatible with the European civilisation. Wearing Muslim articles of clothing is a symbolic denial of a free and open society. The Muslims do not demand a total subjugation to Allah of themselves and their coreligionists, but of all of us as well. They are not familiar with the motto of live and let the others live freely in a plural society. Wherever they may live, they are duty-bound to the formation of Islamic ummah (community).

If we are entitled to ask of the Hindu naga saddhus[2] not to walk naked in our streets, we are also entitled to ask of the Muslim women to wear decent clothes. And leave the Muslim fashion at home.

[1] Latin phrase, Quod erat demonstrandum or Q. E. D., meaning what was to be shown or demonstrated–note of the translator.

[2] a religious ascetic, mendicant (monk) or any holy person in Hinduism and Jainism who has renounced the worldly life–note of the translator.



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