My friends and I were talking about the woman who got arrested in Belgium for attacking a police officer when she was asked by the officer to take the full face veil off. It was not a recent news, but it was still a good topic for a deep conversation with your fellows. The premise is: Belgium bans any head gear which cover one’s face, and in this case it is called burqa (burka) in public spaces. And, that most of us in the conversation group believe that what Belgium (and France) has done by banning burqa in public space is a good preventative step to protect other citizen.
I said most, because… One of the fellow in the conversation group argues that the banning of burka is against the universal declaration of human rights. He quoted UDHR, articles 18 about the freedom of religion.
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.
I have to admit that I quite like the fact that he cited the UDHR. I mean, there are a lot of people who would utter their opinion while completely dismissing facts, evidence, or any supporting documents. What this guy did was basically trying to challenge my belief that banning burqa is actually a good thing.
So, is it true then? Is it true that France and Belgium has violate the universal declaration of human rights for banning burqa in public spaces? Because what he said is true, that the government has basically limit someone’s right to practice, and manifest her religion or believe in public. Well… partially true.
There’s one thing about RIGHTS that someone forgets. RIGHTS always come together with RESPONSIBILITIES. There is no such thing as the unlimited rights. It is limited, to a certain degree. And if you go a little bit further, you would be able to see the explanation of UDHR article 18 about the right to freedom of thought and religion:
1. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.
2. No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice.
3. Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health, or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.
4. The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to have respect for the liberty of parents and, when applicable, legal guardians to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions. respect the exclusive character of the responsibilities of the Secretary-General and the staff and not to seek to influence them in the discharge of their responsibilities.
There you go. The guy in our discussion group only mentioned the first part of the article. He probably forgot that the third part of the article explained about how the rights could be limited, when it is needed to protect public safety, order, bla bla… and the fundamental rights and freedom of others.
In Belgium in particular, it is necessary for the police officer to ask the said woman to take her face veil off. Brussels had been in so much pressure lately. The city got locked down after the Paris attack, and almost every day you could see on the news that there are more and more radicalised group being arrested for planning terrorism. It is important for people in the country to be able to feel safe, and feel that the government is doing something.
The fact that so many terrorists were identified through CCTV makes it just sensible to ask people to show their face if they’re out in public. Isn’t it?
Right. I am not going to make you agreeing with me, because that’s not what I am trying to do in here. I understand that some people has their very idea of what freedom is. I believe that there is no such thing as the unlimited freedom, even when you live alone in the jungle — you are still limited by the space of the jungle. All I say is that if you can’t live by the rule, you still have the freedom to move somewhere else where you can do what you want to do without breaking the law.
Isn’t that what many Indonesian has been doing all these time? Going abroad to get married because in Indonesia inter-religion marriage is not accepted? Isn’t that what many Irish people has been doing all these time? Going to England to get an abortion for the unwanted pregnancies? Isn’t that what many British people has been doing all these time? Going to Switzerland to get an assisted dignified death?