France’s Burqa Ban – Is It Right?

Yesterday morning Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty, voiced her opinion on France’s burqa ban. Introduced in April 2011 this ban on anyone wearing the niqab or burqa in public has been a controversial move; some view this ban as supporting women’s rights and others vehemently argue that it’s a violation of these same rights.

The differing opinions on this subject became all the more obvious to me yesterday morning whilst Shami spoke. Although she personally does not find the idea of a woman covering the entirety of her body to be favourable, Shami emphasised that by criminalising this dress the French Government is infringing on a woman’s right to choose what she wears and when she wears it. Shami went as far to say that to this action is an example of xenophobia masquerading as feminism.

At this point I tweeted the following from the @southbankcentre account, which has over 40,000 followers:

‘Shami Chakrabarti talks honestly about banning of the burqa in France and states that this is xenophobia masquerading as feminism #WOW2012

In response to this tweet we were sent the following, providing the other side of the argument:

tanktv: @southbankcentre well it is & it is not, it’s more complicated than that. 4 historical reasons French hate exhibition of religious status

JosephyneT: @southbankcentre 100% disagree with that The burqa is an anti-woman, anti-human, utterly nihilistic & violent statement Don’t derail issues!

At first I didn’t know how to respond to these comments oh behalf of the Southbank Centre…then I had what I can only call an epiphany…this kind of discussion is what WOW is all about!

So I’m writing this blog because we want to hear more, more of your thoughts and opinions.

Tell us what you think…is the burqa ban a violation of human rights or a victory for equality?


Can’t make WOW? Watch at home…

Hi all!

We want WOW Festival to be truly an international festival – UK wide and worldwide. For this reason we will be live streaming events from the festival.

Here in the New Media Team we’ve been working on WOW since back in November. The digital part of WOW basically involves organising everything online, from Facebook and twitter, to tweet meets and teams of bloggers.

We started out with aim of creating an online community for WOW and (I hope!) we have managed to achieve this. The main thing for us was to have a great Facebook page specifically for WOW so as to create an extension of the festival online. A place for debate, discussion and information. We’ve hit 1000 followers on International Women’s Day, which seems rather well timed.

So here’s a list of all things digital that we’ll be doing throughout the festival weekend:

Twitter – we’ll be tweeting from out @southbankcentre account using #WOW2012

Facebook – we’ll be updating both the Southbank Centre Facebook and our WOW facebook fan pages

Andriod and iphone app – we have created a conference app so that you have easy access to programme information, facebook, blogs and twitter.

Audio Recordings – we’ll be recording some of the talks and putting them on this blog. More details to come.

Live Streaming – you can watch these events live on the WOW microsite:


Battering Down the door – Starts at 14:15

Eve Ensler – Starts at 18:00


It is rocket science – Starts at 12:00

Funny Women – Starts at 16:30


Ironing it out – Starts at 10:30

Women and Criminal justice system – Starts at 12:00

Tea with the Lady – Starts at 13:30

Mary Whitehouse – Starts at 15:00

…and of course blogging! We’ve got a team of six bloggers and lots of young people (the WOWsas) who will be blogging during the festival. Watch this space…