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Burka


Roger Scruton, The Spectator, 10‑08‑2018.


We live in a face-to-face society, in which strangers look each other in the eye, address each other directly, and take responsibility for what they say. This custom is not just a fashion. It is deeply implanted in us by a thousand-year old religious and legal tradition, by the Enlightenment conception of what citizenship means, and by a literary and artistic culture that tells us that we are in everything duty bound to see the other as on equal terms with the self. Being face to face with strangers is at the root of our political freedom.

I was brought up in that freedom. I cannot easily accept that people should appear in public ostentatiously concealing their face from me. The British believe that strangers deal openly with each other and are accountable for their looks and their words. It is natural for them to take offence at those who brazenly hide their face, while nevertheless claiming all the rights and privileges of citizenship. I certainly feel awkward in the presence of such people, and suspect that they are abusing the trust that we spontaneously extend to strangers.



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