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Italy Freaks Out Over Terrorism

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ITALY has banned Islamic burqas under tough terrorism laws that provide two-year jail terms and E2000 ($3200) fines for anyone caught covering their face in a public place.

The counter-terrorism package, passed by Italy's parliament yesterday, doubles the existing penalty for wearing a burqa or chador -- traditional robes worn by Muslim women to cover their faces -- or full-faced helmets or balaclavas in public.

Police can extract DNA samples without a suspect's consent, detain them for 24 hours without a lawyer present, and deport foreigners suspected of terrorism under the new legislation. Soldiers involved in counter-terrorism have been given the same stop-and-search powers.


This is a bit over the top. I wonder whether this sort of thing will become more common in Europe in the future.

Edited by Hal
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Hal, you say, "This is a bit over the top." When the people I talk to use that phrase (or something like it), they imply that all actions can be arranged on a scale, and all are distinguishable only by a matter of degree. They arbitrarily pick some point on that scale and say, "Beyond this point, such actions are bad."

The problem underlying that approach, I have found in conversation with such people, is that they don't think in principles and, compounding the problem, they don't essentialize.

What do you mean by "a bit over the top"?

On the wider question you raise, about future European actions being a threat against the rights of peaceful individuals, I would say that Europeans are more likely to abuse human rights precisely because their rhetoric -- as I have heard it -- is even less objective than the rhetoric of U. S. conservatives. Multiculturalists -- in the U. S. or in Europe -- are not objective. They undercut all rights when they attempt to institute group rights, directly or indirectly. I am not surprised when collectivists advocate governmental actions that violate individual rights.

P. S. -- Whether prohibiting masks in public is right depends, I hold, on the circumstances, just as whether to outlaw ownership of certain kinds of weapons depends on circumstances. Living in an apartment in downtown New York City, I might need a pistol to defend myself until the police arrive after I have been threatened with home invasion. I would not need machine guns and grenades. Living on an isolated ranch near the porous U. S. border with Mexico, I might be justified in having such weapons. Likewise wearing masks can, I hold, properly be banned in certain circumstances -- such as entering law enforcement offices or parking near fuel depots, for example.

Edited by BurgessLau
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I disagreed with banning head coverings in public schools in France as a violating of religious freedom, but banning women from wearing burqa's seems wrong. There's no criminal behavior in that.

On the other hand, we're talking about banning what could amount to a disguise in an act of terror. Similar to not allowing a person to wear a face mask on a drivers liscense, is it reasonable to demand that they have their faces visible in public?

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What do you mean by "a bit over the top"? 
I was using it in a semi-sarcastic way to mean something closer to 'this is an insane violation of human rights'. I should probably have italicised the word 'bit' to make this clearer.
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