World Bulletin / News Desk
There are only three women in Latvia who wear the niqab however Latvia’s Ministry of Justice, that is three niqabs too many, in the country of 2 million people. Using the excuse that Latvian culture must be protected the Latvian government is working legislation that would ban face-covering veils from public spaces. The proposal would not ban the wearing of head scarves that do not cover the face, like hijabs, the coverings most commonly worn by Muslim women.
“A legislator’s task is to adopt preventive measures,” said Justice Minister Dzintars Rasnacs, a member of the anti-immigration National Alliance party, who predicted that the law would win overwhelming backing in Parliament and would be in place at the start of 2017.
The legislation in Latvia is a reflection of the "concern"that a few European countries particularly those in Eastern Europe twards immigrants who are escaping war and poverty in their homeland. In particular, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland have been among the countries most strongly opposed to taking in large numbers of refugees, reflecting anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim strains in their societies. Even in remote Latvia — which could hardly be considered a top destination for migrants, given its frosty winters and threadbare welfare system — a fear has give way to a paranoia thanks to politicians, the news media and the wider population.
An example would be Ms. Legzdina, 27, who is not a migrant but an ethnic native Latvian who converted to Islam after a trip to Egypt as a teenager.
Now a medical student at a university in Riga, the capital, Ms. Legzdina, who has chosen the name Fatima, comes to Zaube each spring and summer on vacation with her two young children. Her husband, Viesturs Kanders, followed her into the Islamic faith on their wedding day.
Other than her clothing, prayers and regular fasting, her life in Zaube matches Latvian country life almost to the point of cliché, including picking flowers or mushrooms depending on the season, a strong Latvian tradition.
“I love my country,” she said with pride. Yet she said she felt threatened by the way people responded to her appearance.
“People have become much more aggressive than before,” she said. When she is not vacationing in Zaube, she lives in a suburb of Riga, where her daily commute, she said, is becoming littered with verbal abuse. Interactions on buses and trams, she said, often involve her being told to “go back to where you come from,” and tend to end with awkward moments when she replies to the person confronting her in perfect Latvian.
“If they are so afraid,” she said, “it shows they are not strong, and they don’t believe in their own culture.”
Mr. Rasnacs, the justice minister, said the law was not about the number of people covering their faces in Latvia, but had more to do with makng sure the that prospective immigrants "respect" the norms of the country saying that “We do not only protect Latvian cultural-historical values, but the cultural-historical values of Europe.”
Latvia has been reluctant to take in refugees and has accepted only 776 refugees over the next two years with only six arriving so far.
Source: The New York TimesLast Mod: 20 Nisan 2016, 10:08