Infringing on other people’s freedom of religion is the opposite of democracy

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By Edinah Masanga

The face veil worn for the purposes of religion invokes such a hot but also toxic debate in Sweden.

Calls to follow suit Denmark in banning the Muslim face veil have been gathering momentum in Sweden.

In my own municipality, SD has moved a motion for the face veil to be banned in the whole kommun. In other words, criminalise wearing it.

Funny enough this ban is called for in the interest of freedom. But what freedom is there in forcing another person to be like you when they can just be themselves. When they can choose to be anything other than you. When they have reached a free country.

While I understand that there may be legitimate concerns which make people want to help in this weird way, is there not any other way to empower women to make their own choices?

In a society where we respect everyone and ensure the human dignity to all, we should, in fact, empower people to make choices rather than make choices for them. I think that is the essence of democracy – the freedom to be. Freedom of worship, freedom of religion, freedom of association…

This is a time to empower women to be able to make a choice to practice religion or not based on their own preferences and beliefs. If we feel that that’s not happening then we must do more but most certainly we must never make choices for anyone.

Because doing so is the typical male arrogance which has gotten the world to where it is right now. The we-know-what’s-right-for-them attitude.

There is no easy way to say this, but at some point, the west or westerners have to learn this; people from the third world are full human beings who can make their own decisions. If their decisions are not in line with certain expectations or in some cases democratic standards, we should certainly empower them to make the right decisions but we must never impose our own beliefs on others.

Because, infringing on other people’s religions defeats the whole purpose of freedom.

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