False Equivalence

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False equivalence is a logical fallacy which describes a situation where there is a logical and apparent equivalence, but when in fact there is none.[1] It is often used by apologists attempting to justify or excuse certain aspects of Islam through a tu quoque (you too) argument.

A common way for this fallacy to be perpetuated is one shared trait between two subjects is assumed to show equivalence, especially in order of magnitude, when equivalence is not necessarily the logical result.


The pattern of the fallacy is often as such:

  • A is the set of c and d
  • B is the set of d and e
  • A and B both contain d
  • Thus A and B are equal

It should be noted though that d existing in both sets is not required, only a passing similarity is required to cause this fallacy to be able to be used.


The following are some Islam-related examples to illustrate false equivalences:

Example A:

  • The burka is worn by women and covers the hair.
  • The nun's habit is worn by women and covers the hair.
  • Thus the burka and nun's habit are equal.

In reality, there are numerous differences between the two items of clothing. For example, unlike the compulsory observance of hijab (in some form or another) for practicing Muslim women, practicing Christian women are not required or expected to wear a nun's habit. Naturally, only nuns are. In fact, it would be considered quite bizarre for a Christian women to wear a nun's habit is she were not a nun. The burka covers everything including the eyes, leaving women unrecognizable, visually impaired, and closed off to social interaction. The nun's habit does not cover the face at all, so they cause no such problems. Also, if a nun were to remove her head covering, unlike a Muslim woman, she would not run the risk of being intimidated, ostracized or honor killed by her co-religionists. For example, Aqsa Parvez was a 16-year-old Muslim girl who was honor-killed in Ontario, Canada. Her brother had strangled her to death when she refused to wear a hijab covering.[2] Also in France, a survey conducted in May 2003 found that 77% of girls wearing the hijab said they did so because of physical threats. Muslim females in France who refuse to wear the hijab are insulted, rejected and often physically threatened by Muslim males. Those who try to rebel are considered "whores" and treated as outcasts. Every year hundreds of women in Pakistan and Afghanistan alone are killed or maimed by Muslims for the simple reason that they were not covered.[3]

See Also

  • Logical Fallacies - A hub page that leads to other articles related to Logical fallacies


  1. Eisner, A practical introduction to PSL, Springer, p. 157, 2006
  2. "Honour killing of Aqsa Parvez", Wikipedia, accessed July 25, 2013 (archived), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honour_killing_of_Aqsa_Parvez. 
  3. Olivier Guitta, "Opinion: Why France is right about the burqa", GlobalPost, February 26, 2010 (archived), http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/worldview/100225/france-burqa-ban-human-rights?page=0,1.