Donald Trump says women in Muslim countries wear the burka to avoid having to wear makeup

Cracking a joke I’m assuming he overheard in a sauna in Qatar in the not-too-distant past, Donald Trump said earlier today that we should lay off Muslim countries that require women to wear burkas because the women probably prefer it. After all, he said, if they didn’t wear the burka they’d have to wear makeup.

As he said, quoted by TalkingPointsMemo:

Then I saw women interviewed. They said, ‘We want to wear them. We’ve worn them for a thousand years. Why would anyone tell us not to?’ They want to! What the hell are we getting involved for? Fact it’s easier. You don’t have to put on make-up. Look at how beautiful everyone looks. Wouldn’t it be easier? Right? Wouldn’t that be easy?

Here’s the video of Trump’s comments, via ABC:

This answer is peak Trump on a number of levels, not the least of which being the implication that women who wear burkas in countries that require women to wear burkas are wearing burkas by choice. While many Muslim women do choose to wear the veil, many do not. And for those who do choose to do so, the decision has absolutely nothing to do with makeup. In any case, whether the veil is in fact required by the Muslim faith is the subject of some theological debate, although that debate is, for all intents and purposes, closed in a number of Muslim countries.

Dress requirements in the Muslim world, via Wikimedia Commons

Dress requirements in the Muslim world, via Wikimedia Commons

This would suggest that, per the freedom of religion and personal choice normally afforded in liberal democratic countries, any sort of law pertaining to the way women of a particular religion dress is highly suspect. You can make a reasonable argument that Muslim women in non-Muslim countries may feel in some cases coerced into wearing the veil, but that probably isn’t reason enough to ban it outright. On the other hand, it’s impossible to argue in the context of a secular society that laws requiring all women — regardless of their faith — to dress the way one particular version of one particular faith says they should is anything but oppressive. In other words, banning the burka is bad, but requiring it is worse.

Donald Trump may be oblivious to this concept given his open-armed acceptance of male superiority over women and cozy relationship with rich men in Muslim countries, and Republican primary voters may think his joke was hilarious. Hell, it may even help Trump close his anti-Muslim voter gap with Ben Carson — a gap that’s been widening of late.

What’s more, the cultural relativism at the core of Trump’s answer — that it is improper for those of us in the United States to opine as to whether it is moral or otherwise acceptable for countries to impose dress codes on certain classes of people because What do we know about equality??? — is a particularly dangerous dodge that neither Trump nor his supporters would be as ready to use regarding similar questions in the Middle East, such as the persecution of Christians or Islamic extremism more generally.

But no matter. This will surely help him in the polls.

Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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27 Responses to “Donald Trump says women in Muslim countries wear the burka to avoid having to wear makeup”

  1. TaiFood says:

    The over-analysis of Mr. Trump’s don’t care comment about the hijab, and by extension the burka, highlighted by humor typifies why political correctness is a no-win strategy.

    In the western world, except for law enforcement, who cares?

    It’s like taking a position against wearing the hood on hoodies – sure it sets people apart, and most would avoid a person with that style option exercised as it seems privacy (or warmth) is requested, but that’s what is also called freedom.

    The issue of appropriate work place attire is most likely where the issue might pop up. In the case of a religion the business is required to make a “reasonable” accommodation…extend that to my hoodie comparison and the issue might become more clear as to why one accommodation is actually discriminatory versus one’s personal style. One style should not take precedence over another, should it? For example, whatever happened to the head scarf in women’s fashion? Can an employer disallow hoodies and head scarves yet allow a hijab?

    If so, shouldn’t that employer be able to require burkas for both sexes while at work? Why not?

    Personally, I believe the hijab as well as the burka demeans females and is one its face (pun intended) repressive to women in society, in general.

  2. 2karmanot says:

    The Trumpster can go from A to Moron is less than sixty seconds.

  3. HKAnders says:

    I take issue with only one thing you wrote. There is no such thing as “peak Trump.” Anytime you make the mistake of thinking he has, at long last, gone too far, he soon goes beyond that.

  4. slidesix says:

    That’s not true. Most muslim women are dressed to the nines and heavily made up under that burka.

  5. Cooter says:

    Why are we allowing these people to propagate this shit? I’ll wear my bigot label with pride and say dune coons go to hell, leave our goats and women alone!

  6. Cooter says:

    6:321 – Muhammad is asked whether it is right for a young woman to leave her house without a veil. He replies, “She should cover herself with the veil of her companion.”

    60:282 – After Muhammad issued the command (Qur’an 24:31) for women to cover themselves, the women responded by tearing up sheets to cover their faces.

    32:4092 – The Apostle of Allah… said: “O Asma’, when a woman reaches the age of menstruation, it does not suit her that she displays her parts of body except this and this, and he pointed to her face and hands” This was according to Aisha.

    2:641 – The Prophet (pigs_be_upon_him) said: Allah does not accept the prayer of a woman who has reached puberty unless she wears a veil.

    52:250 – [The Prophet said] “It is not permissible for a man to be alone with a woman, and no lady should travel except with a Muhram (i.e. her husband or a person whom she cannot marry in any case for ever; e.g. her father, brother, etc.).” – Neither is a woman allowed to travel by herself.

  7. Jon Green says:

    Verse 24:31 is cited fairly frequently, as it reads that women “shall not reveal any parts of their bodies, except that which is apparent.” Depending on how you read that, “apparent” can mean pretty much everything is fine (you could go topless!), or it can mean nothing except hands and feet are allowed to be seen in public. Hence the debate.

  8. nicho says:

    I’ve been told — and it’s possible I’ve been misinformed — that the veiling, etc., is not a religious practice at all, but came from harem practice, in which the Sultan didn’t want other men looking at his “property.” The only ones who could look at the Sultan’s wives and concubines were the Sultan, other women, and the eunuchs. Then, other men copied the practice — and “justified” it by claiming it was what god wanted.

  9. nicho says:

    I’ve never read the Quran. Can anyone point me to the relevant passages that require — or even make the suggestion — that women be veiled and/or shrouded head to toe?

  10. BeccaM says:

    And a gimp suit.

  11. mf_roe says:

    Not all residents of nunneries have had freedom of choice.

  12. nicho says:

    Many nun’s habits came from the dress that secular women wore at the time the religious order was founded.

  13. emjayay says:

    In NYC I see Muslim women all the time with headscarves and even the
    ones that cover the neck or on occasion the (really offensive to me)
    face drape. And they usually have more eye makeup – mascara, heavy eye
    liner all around, eyebrows shaped and heavily drawn, black and color
    shadow, the whole nine yards and more – than anyone else ever has. Plus,
    if they wear glasses they are usually ostentatious designer ones.

    You would think this stuff would force men to rape them, and it would totally be their fault of course.

  14. mf_roe says:

    He would look better in a ball gag.

  15. mf_roe says:


  16. mf_roe says:

    Nothing wrong with their appearance either I’ll wager. Many cultures impose manners of dress unsupported by reason——Consider Trumps line of neck ties consider the abomination of high heels that many women love but that many despise. Isn’t Trump on record about women dressing to suit HIS taste.

  17. emjayay says:

    Oh, “won’t” not “want”.

  18. emjayay says:

    The similarity of traditional Catholic nun habits to Middle Eastern Muslim women’s clothes struck me too. Of course most don’t wear that stuff now, and the nun habits date back to the Middle Ages as does the Muslim dress.

    The difference is that the nuns wear the habit as a symbol of their dedication to their religion and role in a community, and they choose to join. The Muslim women wear it as a symbol of subjugation of all women to men, a symbol of their status as far, far lower than men, who are right next to them – or some paces ahead of them – wearing cut offs and a tank top. They may have internalized it emotionally as being modest, but that’s what it is.

    From the comment above about them shedding the stuff on a plane – that is about wealthy and more worldly women just doing it because they have to and it allows them their life of luxury in their home country. Meanwhile their husbands probably have drinking parties with dancing boys.

  19. Indigo says:

    That was brought home to me on a flight back to the US from Cairo a decade ago. A considerable number of veiled women, some in burkas, others in various draped styles got on board in Cairo, but not one of them got off the plane at JFK veiled. They took their carry-ons into the restrooms during the flight, changed into contemporary Western styles as if that was the normal travel practice, and deplaned with not even a trace of sharia.

  20. mf_roe says:

    I have a Muslim friend who runs the corner store, he want let his wife work at the store because she insists on wearing a veil. My friend understands that here in Texas that just stirs up the stupidity. The point is that many Muslim women are totally comfortable with manners of dress that offend the sensibilities of other faiths.

  21. mf_roe says:

    Take a look at the shopping lists of the oil shrieks, they take all kinds of kink back to the harem. And many of the women dress and appear very attractive outside of Burka-land when their MASTERS (hubbies) allow them foreign travel. As usual, Butterscotch Mountain Mining Accident is just firing for effect.

  22. BeccaM says:

    Trump has no frickin’ clue what women wear under those burkas, which are donned when going out in public and typically not worn around the home. Many Muslim women, including those in fundamentalist cultures, are WAY big on make-up, lingerie, and even fancy clothes.

    Then again, Trump bloviating in a way which once again exposes his ignorance, sexism and bigotry comes as no surprise…

  23. John Smith says:

    A whole lot of men, including Donald, would look fabulous in a full burkha

  24. Indigo says:

    Or what Catholic nuns wore until recently. Or the colorful skirts of the Caribbean, or Mother Hubbards seen in the grocery stores of central Florida, or many other such choices. I think they’re fine but for myself, I might wear a kilt in public but for the most part I stay in my blue jeans. A suit begrudgingly for semi-formal events. Black tie rarely.

  25. nicho says:

    Look at what women in Victorian time “chose” to wear. Not a huge leap from there to a burka.

  26. FLL says:

    The fact that Ben Carson is up in the Iowa polls means very little because the Republican Iowa Caucus is dominated by fundamentalist Christians. That’s why Huckabee won the Iowa Caucus in 2008 (by 38%!) and Santorum tied with Romney in 2012. Like Huckabee and Santorum before him, Carson will win precious little anywhere other than Iowa. Yup. The Donald will be the Republican nominee, and he’s better suited to be a nightclub entertainer than president of a world power. I really think voters will make a more sober choice in the general election, and either Bernie or HIllary easily qualify as a more sober choice than The Donald.

  27. Indigo says:

    I’m good with archaic fashion choices. I’m not good with speculating over their reasons.

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