Independent MEP Indrek Tarand said the debate over a proposed plan to ban the covering of faces in public, including wearing burqas, is ridiculous.
“I personally believe the Muslim tradition, in some sense, is from the Middle Ages. Saudi Arabian laws, such as banning women from driving cars, is hard to call modern. I do not think these Middle-Ages traditions are necessary and Estonia can ban them,” Tarand told ERR radio.
From a liberal point of view, Tarand said, banning symbols can cause protests and people to become defensive. He said one can then ask why certain symbols are banned, some not.
Tarand said that the ribbon of Saint George is not what many in Estonia want to see on Estonian territory, but it is not banned. “We have not banned deranged books written by Adolf Hitler. If a person wants to read those books or wear the ribbon, then free society must accept it,” he said.
He said he thinks the burqa ban debate is funny as it coincides with Estonia taking in asylum seekers. “We know that we will take in a maximum of 170 people in the next few years, and who all might not be religious. I do not think the question should even arise.”
France has 6-7 million Muslims, and according to Tarand, the problem arose when people began to practice religion on the streets, which was provocative to the French society. “We do not have such dangers. For us, it is currently more important to help asylum seekers acclimatize to the society, learn the language, and not prepare for such dangers,” Tarand said.
Editor: J.M. Laats