Topic: National, regional, ethnic and religious cultures

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1 Topic: National, regional, ethnic and religious cultures Lesson: The burka debate Resources: 1. Resource 1 PowerPoint presentation 2. Resource 2 A conversation 3. Resource 3 Washing line statements 4. Resource 4 Opinions about burka law 5. Long piece of washing line and one peg per student KS or Year Group: KS4 Objectives: Students can understand that there are conflicting views about the burka. Students can weigh up what is unfair or fair about the burka debate. National Curriculum Key Concepts: 1.2a, 1.2c, 1.3c Key Processes: 2.1a Range and Content: 3a, 3c Curriculum Opportunities: 4a, 4b, 4c Lesson overview Students find out what Nicolas Sarkozy said in June 2009 about the burka, and explore the idea of banning the burka in Europe. Students reflect carefully upon the relationship between human rights and the right of Muslim women to cover up. They do so via a PowerPoint presentation, a washing line activity, and a human bar chart! (Note that burka can also be spelt burkha or burqa.) Starter Share the lesson objectives with the students. Refer students to a resource that shows the different types of Muslim dress for females (e.g. see the recommended website in Check the web ). Ask students to consider which types of dress they have seen first hand or through the media. Encourage students to leave the visual aids on their tables (for reference throughout the lesson) Page 1 of 8

2 In silence, show students Resource 1 PowerPoint presentation. Show students the presentation a second time. This time, ask students to comment (and justify their comments). Remind students that while there is no such thing as a wrong opinion, it is important to show respect for other people when expressing their views. Examples of good responses: I think the full veil is quite a modern thing because some of my cousins who are in their twenties wear it, whereas none of my aunties do. In a way you could say that women who cover up are liberated because they don t have to worry about being seen as sex objects. On the other hand, I think I would end up feeling oppressed if the outside world never saw my face. I find it frightening when I see someone covered up. I usually wonder if it s a criminal pretending to be a Muslim woman. Praise those who shared their thoughts. Ask a few volunteers to respond to the following questions: Do you believe that women in Europe should be allowed to cover their faces? Why do people disagree about whether the burka should be allowed in Europe? If a woman covers her face in public does this affect anybody else? Have you come across anything in the media recently about Muslim women s dress? Main activity Activity 1: Show students Resource 2 A conversation and explain that it is based on a conversation in June 2009 between two Year 10s (Raheem and Ella). Invite two volunteers to read out the conversation to the rest of the class. Ask students to discuss their reaction to the conversation in pairs. Invite some students to feed back. Examples of good feedback: I think it s great that the French President dared to stand up for his opinions. Loads of people are frightened of saying anything about Muslims since 9/11, which is silly. Sarkozy is only trying to help Muslim women, so I agree with everything he said. I feel weird about France trying to make a law that stops women from covering up. How come people are allowed to go to clubs in hotpants and boobtubes? What about a law against that? That s much more damaging to women s rights than the burka is! Page 2 of 8

3 Activity 2: Give each student a peg and the six (pre-cut) statements from Resource 3 Washing line statements. Hang a washing line across the classroom and explain that one end represents strongly agree while the other represents strongly disagree. Point out that the washing line is a sliding scale of opinion. Read out statement 1. Ask each student to peg his/her statement 1 to the place on the washing line that reflects his/her reaction to it. Ask a few volunteers to explain where they pegged their statements and why. Examples of good responses: I put it right next to strongly agree. No matter what anyone says, I think that the burka takes away a women s identity and her freedom. If it s such a great thing to wear, then it s funny that no men wear it! I put mine right in the middle. I think the burka restricts freedom in some ways. For instance, it would stop you from jumping on a bike or going for a swim. Mind you, in other ways it gives a woman a strong sense of identity. If you wear a burka, I suppose you re constantly reminded of your religion and you must feel close to other burka-wearers too. Praise those who shared their opinions. Ask students to remove their pegs and statements. Repeat the process for the other five statements. Plenary Tell students that Sarkozy s comments have opened up a debate across Europe about Muslim women s clothing. Explain to students that they need to decide how the European burka debate could be handled the most fairly. Ask five volunteers to come to the front and give each of them a box from Resource 4 Opinions about burka law. Ask each volunteer to read out his/her opinion box. Tell the students that, together, they are going to create a human bar chart. Ask all the students to stand in front of the volunteer whose opinion seems the fairest. Ask a student to summarise the human bar chart (e.g. Most of us were grouped somewhere around the middle. The biggest bar was the one about not making a law about burkas. The smallest bar only had two people and it was the one about allowing burkas in all public places. ) Ask students to complete the following sentence in their books: One of the effects that a burka might have on its wearer is. One of the effects that burkas might have on communities is. Burkas be allowed by European law because Page 3 of 8

4 Example of a good answer: One of the effects that a burka might have on its wearer is making her feel closer to God. One of the effects that burkas might have on communities is confusing non-muslims about Islam. Burkas should be allowed by European law because a woman s clothing does not affect her intelligence or her personality. Aim high Challenge students to give two reasons in favour of banning the burka in Europe and two in favour of allowing it. Assessment For homework, ask half of the students to find a true story about a woman who happily wears the burka. Ask the other half of the class to find a true story about a woman who wears it against her will. Level 5: Students can give reasons for their opinions about the burka. Students can consider what is fair and unfair about Sarkozy s comments. Level 6: Students understand that French decisions about the burka are interconnected with British decisions about it. Students can explain how different rights need to be protected within the burka debate. Level 7: Students can represent the views of those with whom they disagree about the burka debate. Students can evaluate the role that influential citizens like Sarkozy have in shaping important decisions. Level 8: Students can explore the implications of banning the burka across Europe. Students can make connections between resources from the lesson and information in the media about the burka Page 4 of 8

5 Check the web Recommended resource Simple visual guide to differences between the hijab, the khimar, the chador, the niqab and the burka. BBC s simplified guide to Islam. Interesting article (for teachers) about the burka s place in modern Britain. Gives British Muslim teenagers the opportunity to discuss controversial topics. Summary of key learning Students can understand that there are conflicting views about the burka. Students can weigh up what is unfair or fair about the burka debate Page 5 of 8

6 Resource 2 A conversation Raheem, did you hear about the latest Citizenship issue? The French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, has been on the news all over Europe because of his comments about Islamic dress for women. Yeah, I saw it on TV. He thinks it s wrong for women to cover their faces or to wear long veils, and he said that he doesn t want people to dress like that in France. I know. Apparently, France might introduce a law that bans Muslim women from covering their faces in public places. Do you think it ll happen, Ella? Loads of French MPs backed Sarkozy, so I suppose things might change in France. Sarkozy says that when women fully cover up, it creates gender inequality. He also thinks it makes religion a public issue rather than leaving it as a private one. I think that s called secularism, isn t it? It s when people believe that religion should be separate from everyday life. That s why the French government stopped students wearing religious clothing and symbols in schools. I don t know what I think. I can t decide whether I agree with Sarkozy s comment about the burka imprisoning women and taking away their identity. Also, has the burka got anything to do with true Islam or is just a way of controlling women in places like Pakistan? I know what you mean. Do you remember when Sarkozy said that France mustn t be afraid to speak out against the burka, and all those French politicians started clapping? I couldn t decide whether I agreed with what he was saying. I definitely agreed with him when he said that we shouldn t pick on Muslims and that Islam should be respected as much as other religions. I suppose he wants to make it clear that it s the burka that he disagrees with rather than Islam itself. It s so interesting, isn t it? Like that French politician, Jean-Pierre Chevènement, said, people are allowed to dress how they like under French law, but France is also really big on women s rights. I wonder what will happen in Europe about the burka over the next few months Page 6 of 8

7 Resource 3 Washing line statements 1. The burka takes away women s freedom and identity. 2. Women in Europe should be allowed to wear the burka in public places. 3. The burka is a common sight in Britain. 4. It s acceptable for European politicians to express negative opinions about the burka. 5. UK politicians should try to introduce a law that bans the burka here. 6. If burkas get banned in Europe, then things like Christian crucifixes and Sikh turbans should get banned too Page 7 of 8

8 Resource 3 Opinions about burka law A EUROPEAN LAW SHOULD ALLOW THE BURKA IN ALL PUBLIC PLACES IN EUROPE 1. It would be unfair to ban the burka here because it is allowed in other places in the world. 2. A burka liberates a woman because it prevents her from being seen as a sex object. 3. Human rights give all of us the freedom to choose our religion and to express ourselves. B EUROPEAN LAW SHOULD ALLOW THE BURKA IN MOST PUBLIC PLACES IN EUROPE 1. The burka should be removed in high crime areas where CCTV is felt to be necessary. 2. In banks and airports, the burka should be removed for security reasons. 3. In schools, the burka should be removed so that there is no doubt about who is looking after children. C EUROPEAN LAW SHOULD NOT GET INVOLVED AT ALL WITH THE BURKA 1. The burka is worn by a very small minority of women in Europe and so the issue does not need debating. 2. How people interpret their religion is their own business and doesn t affect other people. 3. A law about religious clothing might seem racist. D EUROPEAN LAW SHOULD BAN THE BURKA IN MOST PUBLIC PLACES IN EUROPE 1. The burka should be allowed within 100m of a religious building (e.g. a Muslim school). 2. The burka should be permitted within 100m of a woman s home. 3. The burka should be allowed in a television studio if a Muslim woman wants to hide her identity. E EUROPEAN LAW SHOULD BAN THE BURKA IN ALL PUBLIC PLACES IN EUROPE 1. The burka gives out the wrong message to children about gender equality. 2. Some women are pressured to wear the burka by their family; a total ban would stop this. 3. The burka makes a lot of people in Europe (including some Muslims) feel very uncomfortable Page 8 of 8

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