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MrBear
16-05-08, 10:15
Okay, so we've got a debate going on in Denmark at the moment: one of our most extremist political parties, The Danish People's Party, are trying to abolish the right to wear political and religious symbols in certain areas of the public sphere: a nurse shouldn't wear a headscarf, a judge shouldn't wear a Christian cross, and so on..

It all started when Danish People's Party ran some adds in several newspapers, showing a court judge wearing a burqa, and the caption reading something like 'Give us Denmark back' and 'By Sharia is country built' (a re-interpretation of an old line on some of our court buildings that read 'by law is country built') and the leader of Danish People's Party has recently stated that she would refuse treatment from a nurse wearing a headscarf..

It looks like the government is going to introduce this bill! I'm shocked.. The argument is supposedly to secure impartiality (in the case of female judges wearing headscarfs) and surveys show that the more power a person has by virtue of his/her job, the stronger the dislike for displaying religious or political beliefs in the public.. To me it sounds like bogus: we all have our opinions, why should it matter if you can tell that the judge is Jewish? Lack of impartiality might as well appear in persons who do not display their beliefs, as I see it anyway..

I'd like to hear from other parts of the world.. What do you think of it? Are symbols of religion and/or politics allowed where you live? Do you agree with the sentiments that our xenophobia-exploiting party has brought up?

And please, keep religion war out of this.. I want you to think of religious symbols as a whole, not what religion they symbolise.. Unless it's vital to your opinion of course, but in that case please try not to offend anyone :)

Looking forward to hear your comments :wve:

CroftScionGuard
16-05-08, 10:23
Well, I think that it will turn people impartial. The example of the judge is right imo. I think people have to be impartial, so judges can judge according to the laws of the country and not according to the religion.

Here also happened that christian crosses were removed from schools because not every student was christian, so they were forced to look at it. Somehow it was discrimination, and so it was the best thing to do, because a public school must accept every student, independently of it's religion.

Cochrane
16-05-08, 11:07
We had a very similar discussion here in germany recently, about whether teachers are allowed to wear headscarfs.

As a general rule, I am absolutely convinced that the state should be neutral towards religion. The question is towards whom the this neutrality matters more. Does the state have to be neutral towards it's employees? In that case, religious symbols have to be allowed. If the state has to be neutral towards it's citizen, and the employees are seen as part of the state, then the employees mustn't wear any religious symbols because that would violate the state's neutrality.

I agree more with the second interpretation: Public workers of any kind are part of the government, and if the government has to be neutral, then they have to be neutral towards religion as well and should avoid showing any religious signs. The rights of the many who have to deal with the government to not have any religious symbols imposed on them outweigh the rights of the few, who have voluntarily taken on their positions, to show their religious symbols.

This has nothing at all to do with the particular religion in question, it just follows directly from the division between government and church.

MrBear
16-05-08, 11:07
Well, I think that it will turn people impartial. The example of the judge is right imo.

Turn people impartial? Maybe so.. But I like to think that if you're granted the power of being a judge it's because (among other things) that you are exactly that: impartial.

I think people have to be impartial, so judges can judge according to the laws of the country and not according to the religion.


But they don't do that? If you've studied law for 5 years I'm pretty sure that's what you will use when you're at work, not your religious beliefs! What you're saying is exactly what I cannot comprehend: why a headscarf means that you can't trust the judge to abide the democratic law she's working under!

I was hoping for more replies (edit: wish granted, I see :D).. Am I the only one who thinks this is a very bad sign? It's basically saying 'if you cannot lose the headscarf because of your religion you can't work here'... So what if the social worker is Jewish and is used to wear a physical sign of this, does that make him/her a worse social worker? Is the treatment of a nurse with a Christian cross less desired than that of a 'neutral' person?

I agree more with the second interpretation: Public workers of any kind are part of the government, and if the government has to be neutral, then they have to be neutral towards religion as well and should avoid showing any religious signs. The rights of the many who have to deal with the government to not have any religious symbols imposed on them outweigh the rights of the few, who have voluntarily taken on their positions, to show their religious symbols.

This all sounds well in theory.. But introduce it in actuality and I feel we're moving towards a choking neutrality that won't allow the basic human rights.. I can relate to your thoughts of the majority vs. minority, but is it really necessary? Why should it not be allowed to show your beliefs if the truth is that your belief has nothing to do with your judgment? This all screams xenophobia to me and it'll only get worse if we let something like this happen..

So what if a school teacher is clearly of some political/religious opinion? Does it make her less qualified?

Cochrane
16-05-08, 11:15
I don't think it's about the judge being impartial. I think the point in question is that the judge is an official face of the country. A religious symbol sends a certain message, whether intended or not. A non-christian may not feel as confident when a government official he faces wears a cross around his/her neck. A muslim who refuses to wear a headscarf who faces a judge who does could feel that the judge will not approve of her for this reason. It does not actually matter whether there is any such prejudice (well, it does matter, but for the sake of this discussion I'll just assume there isn't any), these are signals that the government should send out.

Ilves
16-05-08, 11:15
I think this is a very interesting subject; it's definately very much alive here in the Netherlands... ad nauseum... :/

I think you need to make distinctions between different occupations. I see no problem in teachers, social workers etc. wearing religious symbols as long as they're not 'in your face' (or 'covering your face' in some instances :rolleyes:)

But a judge, when in function, should represent the Law. That's why they don't wear casual outfits, but official dress. Any expression of adherence to a personal religious belief is absolutey out of the question in the courtroom.

EDIT: I very much subscribe to what Cochrane just said.

MrBear
16-05-08, 11:27
But a judge, when in function, should represent the Law. That's why they don't wear casual outfits, but official dress. Any expression of adherence to a personal religious belief is absolutey out of the question in the courtroom.


It does not actually matter whether there is any such prejudice (well, it does matter, but for the sake of this discussion I'll just assume there isn't any), these are signals that the government should send out.

Just edited my post in response to your first post, Mr Cochrane :)

Yes, I see what you mean.. And I may have to adjust my view on this, as I think you might be right..

Okay, so let's put away the judge-aspect for a minute.. Teachers, then.. Nurses, social workers.. Should a small item of a certain faith not be allowed?

Ilves
16-05-08, 11:31
Should a small item of a certain faith not be allowed?

Such a hot potato, isn't it? Where to draw the line? Little cross pendant? Kippah? Headscarf? Sikh dagger?

I'm sure there's as many opinions on this as there are people... I don't envy the lawmakers in this matter :tea:


Off topic @ MrBear: Tried again this morning... Epic fail... Again...! :hea::ton:

Cochrane
16-05-08, 11:34
I guess a small item for teachers and nurses wouldn't hurt. I would like to point out that teachers are in a position of special authority, though, as they can directly influence the world view of children. Still, a small cross around the neck or something like it is probably acceptable. It all depends on how small and where to draw the line, of course. My suggestion: A religious item shouldn't be larger than any item that was acceptable for me if I was a teacher and that showed I'm a fan of Star Wars and Star Trek.

MrBear
16-05-08, 11:38
Such a hot potato, isn't it? Where to draw the line? Little cross pendant? Kippah? Headscarf? Sikh dagger?

I'm sure there's as many opinions on this as there are people... I don't envy the lawmakers in this matter :tea:

I certainly don't envy them either ;)

But as a member of a society I will do my utmost to prevent all this 'political' correctness, or whatever you wanna call it..

I can just say that a school teacher wearing a burqa is where I draw the line.. Headscarfs don't bother me, if a Muslim woman is more comfortable with that why should it bother me? Let's use a school teacher as an example.. The covering of her hair has no impact on her functionality as a teacher, right? Then let her wear it! A burqa on the other hand would probably damage the contact between student and teacher = shouldn't be allowed..

It's hard to define, I guess, but I find it imperative not to give in to the fear of being treated wrongfully by persons of other beliefs...


Off topic @ MrBear: Tried again this morning... Epic fail... Again...! :hea::ton:

Ohh, I'm sorry to hear that... But keep at it! Remember your promise! :ton:

Ilves
16-05-08, 11:48
I used to work as a receptionist in our local hospital, taking in new patients, recording their personal data etc.

There was this one awkward situation where a lady with covered face (technically not a burqa, I guess) came along. I sincerely had so much trouble understanding her muffled speech that the process took forever. Then I noticed how the situation grew more and more awkward as she seemed to think I was deliberately making a big deal out of it. :(

But as a member of a society I will do my utmost to prevent all this 'political' correctness, or whatever you wanna call it..



I wonder how would you define a 'political correct' standpoint in this, in the Danish context? I'm curious because I feel it might differ from the Dutch one. :confused:

Punaxe
16-05-08, 11:56
An interesting topic. While I agree that people in a position with certain kind of authority, responsibility and/or representation should refrain from outing their personal adherences (while in that position), it does raise the question who exactly we (I mean the Danish government, in case the bill is accepted) are protecting from whom.

Are we protecting "the neutral public" from taking genuine offense, or are we protecting the wearers of those symbols from the "insurgent public"?
If the symbol(s) in questions would not make any less of the person or of his or her ability to do his or her job, there would (should?) be no reason to disallow anything.

Geck-o-Lizard
16-05-08, 12:10
What you believe isn't affected by whether or not you wear a cross. The only reason that exists to wear political/religious accessories is to advertise your beliefs to others. In the workplace, where your beliefs are irrelevant or even at odds with what you are employed to do, I strongly agree that you should not be wearing crosses, headscarves, anti-nuke logos, pro-conservative/labour ribbons, etc.

Ilves
16-05-08, 12:17
What you believe isn't affected by whether or not you wear a cross. The only reason that exists to wear political/religious accessories is to advertise your beliefs to others.

Probably differs from person to person, and, expression to expression. I don't think the Sikh/muslimas wear their headgear to advertise, but rather because 'God so wills'. These people would then exclude themselves from your average job? You'd get 'muslim only' or 'sikh only' workfloors to accomodate this otherwise qualified and willing workforce?

This truly is a snake pit, and I remain undecided. :ton:

Cochrane
16-05-08, 12:37
I certainly don't envy them either ;)

But as a member of a society I will do my utmost to prevent all this 'political' correctness, or whatever you wanna call it..
Political correctness is going to far, I admit that. But to a certain degree, it has correct goals, and one should not abandon those goals even if you do think that the implementation has gone too far.

I can just say that a school teacher wearing a burqa is where I draw the line.. Headscarfs don't bother me, if a Muslim woman is more comfortable with that why should it bother me? Let's use a school teacher as an example.. The covering of her hair has no impact on her functionality as a teacher, right? Then let her wear it! A burqa on the other hand would probably damage the contact between student and teacher = shouldn't be allowed..

It's hard to define, I guess, but I find it imperative not to give in to the fear of being treated wrongfully by persons of other beliefs...

According to the rule I posted above, a headscarf would mean that I, would I be a teacher, could go to work with a Darth Vader helmet (no mask though). I'll be the first to admit that this sounds like a horrible comparison, but think about it: Why shouldn't I wear that Darth Vader helmet? Because I think it's inappropriate to make advertisement for a movie franchise. It doesn't even matter whether I want to do advertisement for it or just have a cold head, it is advertisement, and this has no place in a public school. So how is religion different?

Ilves
16-05-08, 12:42
^ About the 'stretching the rules'/Darth Vader analogy:

The Dutch government recently introduced some stern rules regarding portrait photography for passports. No glasses, no smile (!), no excessive make up, etc.

Then this one guy challenged those regulations, claiming his mime make up was 'part of his religious beliefs' and he refused to take it off. Guess what, the city hall aproved his picture. I'll see if I can dig up a report on that...:D

EDIT: Dutch only, with pictures: http://www.nos.nl/nosjournaal/artikelen/2007/1/25/240107_joker.html


It's a silly example, but it does illustrate that it's impossible for a legislator to prove someone is not sincerely religious. It would be like bringing back the inquisition.

Capt. Murphy
16-05-08, 12:56
....and the leader of Danish People's Party has recently stated that she would refuse treatment from a nurse wearing a headscarf..

Somewhere on the internet there is a picture of a Klansman that got shot or something... Whatever it is - he's in reeeeally bad shape. And who are the people that are seeing to him as he's wheeled into an operating room? African Americans. :vlol:

That (too) is rediculous. :rolleyes:

--------

Edit: Here in the Midwest (US) there are some (religious) Women that have their hair very long, and they wear dresses. Now, someone could say that this is a sign of submissiveness or reverence, or "a woman's hair is her glory"... and see this as a sign of being religious. What would they do? Force a woman to cut off her hair and dress in slacks? :mad:

Paul H
16-05-08, 14:08
I donít have any problem with judges or police officers holding religious beliefs provided that they are open about it. The woman judge wearing a burqa couldnít have been more open about her faith, so why all the fuss?

The problem is when people in such positions of power and authority hide their beliefs, prejudices, associations and allegiances, and the best example of this is freemasonry which has been responsible for numerous documented examples of corruption within the judiciary, local and national government and, particularly, the police over the years. And they are just the examples we know about. Because of the inherent secrecy of freemasonry, there are certainly many more cases of masonic corruption that we donít know about.

That Danish political party would fulfil a far more useful role if would call for all freemasons working in powerful and sensitive public sector positions to be compelled to declare their memberships of that and any other secret society, rather than targeting people who have nothing to hide.

Ilves
16-05-08, 14:12
Spot on with the freemasonry argument. :wve:

CerebralAssassin
16-05-08, 14:26
yes,religious symbols are allowed here,in fact 99% of the population share the same religion.Yet,no one wears symbols of any sort.How do explain this strange phenomenon?well,I'll tell you...

the only reasons people wear religious symbols in public is cause 1): they're either obliged to do so (burkhas for example) and, 2): to annoy the crap out of people of other religions.

Conclusion:religion is spiritual,it's personal,and it doens't belong at work.

nuff said :cool:

MrBear
16-05-08, 14:52
I used to work as a receptionist in our local hospital, taking in new patients, recording their personal data etc.

There was this one awkward situation where a lady with covered face (technically not a burqa, I guess) came along. I sincerely had so much trouble understanding her muffled speech that the process took forever. Then I noticed how the situation grew more and more awkward as she seemed to think I was deliberately making a big deal out of it. :(

I know the feeling, but sometimes it only feels awkward for one part because you think about how it could be awkward :p she was probably not bothered at all :) (but of course, I wasn't there so you're probably right in your perception of the situation..)


I wonder how would you define a 'political correct' standpoint in this, in the Danish context? I'm curious because I feel it might differ from the Dutch one. :confused:

Well, I'm not sure that political correctness was the right word to use.. But the 'political correct' standpoint is what is being shapen/defined at this moment, I guess.. And I would hate for it to turn out as 'signs of your political and religious beliefs belong to your private life'..

Perhaps I'm not answering the question you're asking, I don't know.. The sentiments about this subject differs from generation to generation, class to class.. If I misunderstood you, please let me know :p

Are we protecting "the neutral public" from taking genuine offense, or are we protecting the wearers of those symbols from the "insurgent public"?
If the symbol(s) in questions would not make any less of the person or of his or her ability to do his or her job, there would (should?) be no reason to disallow anything.

I'm certain that they think they're protecting the 'neutral public', though I wasn't aware it needed this kind of protection.. And the 2nd half of the quote = :tmb:

Political correctness is going to far, I admit that. But to a certain degree, it has correct goals, and one should not abandon those goals even if you do think that the implementation has gone too far.

But what goal is there to accomplish here? At the moment I've heard of no problems relating to the display of symbols in Denmark.. As I understand it, Danish People's Party are just trying to further xenophobia and pressure on especially Muslims, actions that grant them a lot of votes from mostly elderly people :/


According to the rule I posted above, a headscarf would mean that I, would I be a teacher, could go to work with a Darth Vader helmet (no mask though). I'll be the first to admit that this sounds like a horrible comparison, but think about it: Why shouldn't I wear that Darth Vader helmet? Because I think it's inappropriate to make advertisement for a movie franchise. It doesn't even matter whether I want to do advertisement for it or just have a cold head, it is advertisement, and this has no place in a public school. So how is religion different?

Religion is different because it advices people in certain areas of life, and it is vital to some people to abide these guidelines.. Now I've heard that the Quran doesn't demand women to wear a burqa, part of the reason why I think it's too much, but wearing a cross, for instance, is part of some people's lifes.. Perhaps they feel incomplete without it, perhaps they fear to be punished by God for not wearing it, perhaps they just like how they look with the chain around their neck.. Point is, there should be nothing stopping these people from living their lifes as they see fit when it doesn't hurt anybody.. And if a student has a problem with his teacher being Christian, then he should learn acceptance, not force the cross off the teacher..

Also, I don't see a problem walking with a Darth Vader mask as a teacher :p if you don't care about the remarks behind your back and you're able to make your students focus on the material you want to teach, then what's the harm? :)

The problem is when people in such positions of power and authority hide their beliefs, prejudices, associations and allegiances [...]

Good point, and I think I tried to hint the same on the first page (or maybe I just thought about it, don't remember :p).. Impartiality isn't gained by removing the symbols..

Edit:

Cerebral Assassin:

To be honest I don't think a lot of people wear symbols to annoy others.. In fact I haven't met a single person with this goal :-/

I agree with two thirds of your conclusion, but not the part about work.. Why shouldn't it be allowed at work? Would you take away all religious items from every employee because it 'doesn't belong'? I fear that would hurt a lot of people's life qualities..

Edit2: Did the server just go down? :-O

Ilves
16-05-08, 15:01
...but sometimes it only feels awkward for one part because you think about how it could be awkward :p she was probably not bothered at all :)

That thought crossed my mind, but she was definately getting annoyed. Then again, maybe she was only worried about being late for her appointment, who knows.

However usually tend to be very relaxed about dealing with any kind of costumers. I once 'processed' a homeless guy dressed in only an overcoat, screaming that his crotch was on fire (pardon my french ) and I didn't as much as blink :vlol: Bless him.

Well, I'm not sure that political correctness was the right word to use.. But the 'political correct' standpoint is what is being shapen/defined at this moment, I guess..

But could you define, like literally, what that common Danish standpoint would be in this matter?

Dark Lugia 2
16-05-08, 15:16
Nurses should be allowed to wear headscarvs :\ things like that are important in religion, i understand that its not compulsory to wear a cross for a christian but the headscarf for a muslim isnt, but its very religious :\ people should be allowed to wear what they want, if a judge is gonna stop wearing a cross it's not gonna stop his biased religious side from showing.

It's like making a sikh person cut his hair by taking the headscarf from a muslim woman :p

Geck-o-Lizard
16-05-08, 15:27
No it's not. The headscarf can go right back on when she's off duty.

Cochrane
16-05-08, 15:29
But what goal is there to accomplish here? At the moment I've heard of no problems relating to the display of symbols in Denmark.. As I understand it, Danish People's Party are just trying to further xenophobia and pressure on especially Muslims, actions that grant them a lot of votes from mostly elderly people :/
The idea behind political correctness is that nobody should feel left out or made fun of in any way, and that is, in my opinion, a noble goal. The ways used to achieve that, though, are questionable at times, and I agree that such a campaign is not useful if there is absolutely nobody complaining. If there are honest complaints, though, then one has to look into it. Whether the current complaints are honest is something I cannot judge as I don't know any danish. I'm just assuming they are for the sake of the argument, but that does not mean any endorsement of xenophobic parties at all.

Religion is different because it advices people in certain areas of life, and it is vital to some people to abide these guidelines.. Now I've heard that the Quran doesn't demand women to wear a burqa, part of the reason why I think it's too much, but wearing a cross, for instance, is part of some people's lifes.. Perhaps they feel incomplete without it, perhaps they fear to be punished by God for not wearing it, perhaps they just like how they look with the chain around their neck.. Point is, there should be nothing stopping these people from living their lifes as they see fit when it doesn't hurt anybody.. And if a student has a problem with his teacher being Christian, then he should learn acceptance, not force the cross off the teacher..
It's always the question: Whose rights are more important, the teachers or the students? Judge or accused? Nurse or patient? I'm strictly for the right hand side in these cases, because students, accused or patients all cannot choose whether they want to be that, while teachers, judges and nurses all do have a choice. That's why I don't think students should just "deal with it", to say it drastically. Yes, students should learn acceptance, absolutely. But they can do that as well and probably better by learning to live with their classmates, who may wear such religious symbols. The government, here represented by the teacher, though, should stay neutral.

From an advertisement point of view, I'd say religion is actually worse than commercial things. All a movie franchise can and will ever demand of me are my free time and my money. Religion, though, demands my entire life and soul, so to speak. As such, I'd say it should be treated more strictly.

Religious symbols always also speak for a certain point of view in debates. For example, a headscarf-wearing muslim is likely to have a different opinion about how important one should take islam than a muslim who doesn't wear a headscarf. There's nothing wrong with such a different opinion, of course, but it can be confrontational and it will set an example for children, whether their parents want that or not. State-mandated neutrality, especially when everybody knows it's state-mandated, really doesn't make a point in any way, and consequently allows students to make up their own mind.

Gregori
16-05-08, 16:25
The shift to the right in European countries is really depressing.

If you can't handle somebody showing publically their relgious affiliation and beliefs, you need to grow up really quickly. Society is made up of lots of different people, deal with it!

When I was in hospital this summer, I was treated by headscarf wearing doctors and nurses and also those that carried the cross. They've radiaclly different views to me but I didn't burst into flames and the world didn't end! I just got fantastic treatment because they're were doing their job.

MrBear
17-05-08, 14:28
I once 'processed' a homeless guy dressed in only an overcoat, screaming that his crotch was on fire (pardon my french ) and I didn't as much as blink :vlol: Bless him.


But could you define, like literally, what that common Danish standpoint would be in this matter?

Hehehe, that's indeed an unfortunate situation to be in :D (for him, I mean)..

Okay, so I think I understood correctly.. And thus my answer is still, I don't know.. Surveys show that about 60 % of the population is against religious symbols when judges are working.. The less paid job (or less 'powerful'?), the less objection to symbols, as such only 4 % is opposed to cleaners wearing religious symbols.. I'm sorry I cannot provide you with a proper answer :o

Anyway, 'my' generation (20 year-olds, plus/minus a couple of years) is more to the left than the general public, I think, so hopefully there'll be a shift in this :) although, there are still some people of my age who vote, for instance, Conservative, which is a very strange choice in Denmark at the moment... :-/

The idea behind political correctness is that nobody should feel left out or made fun of in any way, and that is, in my opinion, a noble goal. The ways used to achieve that, though, are questionable at times, and I agree that such a campaign is not useful if there is absolutely nobody complaining. If there are honest complaints, though, then one has to look into it. Whether the current complaints are honest is something I cannot judge as I don't know any danish. I'm just assuming they are for the sake of the argument, but that does not mean any endorsement of xenophobic parties at all.

Oh yes, political correctness is generally a noble goal, I agree about that.. That wasn't what I was questioning, it was imposing political correctness where it's not needed.. This debate arose from the adds from the political party, one that would close our borders entirely to immigrants if they had the power.. I have a hard time taking their 'complaints' seriously :)

It's always the question: Whose rights are more important, the teachers or the students? Judge or accused? Nurse or patient? I'm strictly for the right hand side in these cases, because students, accused or patients all cannot choose whether they want to be that, while teachers, judges and nurses all do have a choice. That's why I don't think students should just "deal with it", to say it drastically. Yes, students should learn acceptance, absolutely. But they can do that as well and probably better by learning to live with their classmates, who may wear such religious symbols. The government, here represented by the teacher, though, should stay neutral.

So it's all about outward appearence? You wouldn't mind a cross inside a teacher's shirt?

I see what you mean, but it's still too black-and-white to me.. Yes, teachers are parts of the government but they're human beings as well with unique opinions and view points.. They shouldn't have to hide those away for the sake of properly reflecting the institution - in my opinion (unless, of course, those opinions are damaging and/or too extremely expressed..)

State-mandated neutrality, especially when everybody knows it's state-mandated, really doesn't make a point in any way, and consequently allows students to make up their own mind.

Yes, that may be the best way.. I don't know.. I'm just afraid what a ban of political and religious symbols could lead to in the long run..

The shift to the right in European countries is really depressing.

If you can't handle somebody showing publically their relgious affiliation and beliefs, you need to grow up really quickly. Society is made up of lots of different people, deal with it!

When I was in hospital this summer, I was treated by headscarf wearing doctors and nurses and also those that carried the cross. They've radiaclly different views to me but I didn't burst into flames and the world didn't end! I just got fantastic treatment because they're were doing their job.

That's a... very straight-forward way of saying it, but I certainly agree :)

petujaymz
17-05-08, 14:32
Whilst working for a certain public sector organisation, I raised a few eyebrows visiting Kenneth Clarke's campaign website for the Tory leadership.

I gave them all the middle finger in my mind.

:wve: