Hat tip to Human Stupidity (he sends me a lot of stuff) for bringing this to my attention. Should the figurehead monarch of a historically Christian nation honor Islam by covering her head while visiting mosques in Muslim countries? Many people are asking this question:
Queen Beatrix took on the fiery leader of her country’s anti-Muslim party, Geert Wilders, on Thursday by dismissing as “nonsense” his criticism of her decision to wear a headscarf during a recent visit to a mosque.
The queen made her unusually forthright comment to Dutch reporters covering her state visit to the United Arab Emirates and Oman. Her comments were not recorded, but Beatrix told reporters she wore the head scarf in the UAE and again on a visit to an Oman mosque to show religious respect.
The popular monarch was responding to questions from reporters about parliamentary questions filed by anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders, who said the monarch’s decision to cover her head on a visit to a mosque in Abu Dhabi on Sunday legitimises the oppression of women.
It is rare for the queen to respond so directly – and dismissively – to criticism from a political party in the Netherlands, where the unelected head of state’s role is largely ceremonial.
Wilders is a staunch opponent of Islamic head scarves and head-to-toe burqa robes for women. He is not alone in his position: the government of the Netherlands has announced plans to ban burqas.
I have no idea why she was visiting a mosque in the first place, but I can think of several possible reasons. As for her decision to obey the dress code within the mosque, of course she did the right thing. What kind of person would visit a house of worship, of any religion, and disrespect the the dress code?
When gentile politicians visit the Western Wall in Israel, they typically wear a skull cap. I happen to believe this is unnecessary and silly – but I understand their motivation: They wish to show respect for local traditions and people. When I visited Egypt, I walked about dressed in a Galabiyeh for much the same reason.
Perhaps Mr. Wilders has a problem with his queen visiting a mosque in the first place. This I could understand, but surely he doesn’t expect her to be rude and disrespectful toward people in their own native countries. If Europeans expect foreigners to respect European traditions in Europe, then they need to set an example by respecting other peoples in their own lands.