The Parliament House in Australia has recently made “security modifications” that require all persons with facial coverings including burqas, niqabs and Spider-Man masks to be seated in the glass enclosed galleries. The Department of Parliamentary Services explained: “This will ensure that persons with facial coverings can continue to enter the Chamber galleries [to view proceedings] without needing to be identifiable.”
Now being referred to some as the “burqa box,” the enclosed galleries are said to be where “rowdy school kids are relegated.” Aussies have taken to Twitter to voice their outrage about the decision, but Prime Minister Tony Abbott approves. The prime minister said, “people need to be identifiable in security buildings.” And he cautioned against “making a moutain over a molehill.” There is no record of a burqa ever being worn into the building. (Australian judges only stopped wearing wigs in 2007.) Australian Muslim Women’s Centre for Human Rights chairperson Tasneem Chopra said full-facial coverings weren’t worn in Australia, and those just exposing a woman’s eyes were rare. “I am in Canberra now and in Parliament House, I have never seen a woman in a burqa, or a niqab,” she said. Two ways to take that. One, then the law doesn’t matter very much. Two, the law is a result of out-of-control Islamophobia–and must be stopped. And a third way, actually: that kids in costumes aren’t welcome in the real Hall of Justice.