Tuesday, September 14, 2010

France Bans the Burqa

Heard it on NPR while driving home from the recycling center (Damn. I AM a poor yuppie). You can read about it on CNN International.

I can't quite decide how I feel about this. On one hand, I always argue in favor of religious freedom because that, in turn, gives me the freedom to argue AGAINST religious thinking. That's just my knee-jerk American born and raised reaction to something like this. I also think that people should be able to wear whatever they want... if I want to go out on the town dressed in a scuba suit, I should be able to do that. But, there's also not a whole lot of subtext to a scuba suit.

So what's the French argument?

"Given the damage it produces on those rules which allow the life in community, ensure the dignity of the person and equality between sexes, this practice, even if it is voluntary, cannot be tolerated in any public place," the French government said when it sent the measure to parliament in May.
Okay... so it's an equality of the sexes thing? But what if a woman really DID feel more comfortable wearing a burqa? Well, then I guess that's just kind of sad. It really represents the worst qualities of Islam. Does she feel SAFER in a burqa, like she's hidden from the eyes of lecherous men? Then shame on our society. A woman shouldn't have to feel like she has to HIDE herself in an effort to be modest and tasteful and respected. As someone who has been harassed and catcalled while wearing the most tasteful clothing imaginable...I kind of understand this. But at least I was raised to stick up for myself and demand some respect. I really like this part of the law:
Forcing a woman to wear a niqab or a burqa will be punishable by a year in prison or a 15,000-euro ($19,000) fine, the government said, calling it "a new form of enslavement that the republic cannot accept on its soil."
THAT, I think, is pretty awesome.  Because while some asshole machismo father or husband is in jail, the woman involved could seek refuge and start a life for herself. I don't know how this would be entirely provable or prosecutable...but it's a good idea in theory. This ban, by the way, does not include head scarves or other coverings that do not obscure the face. HA-- I just realized... God not only obscures perception, but in this case, it also obscures your VISION. Wow.

I'm also realizing the practical reasoning behind this ban... If I walked into a convenience store in a ski mask or with a sheet over my head, they would have pretty good reason to call the cops. It makes sense, public safety-wise, to ban clothing that completely covers the face.

The French have always been pretty secular. A few years ago they banned the wearing of overt religious symbols in schools and government buildings. I'm pretty much in favor of this idea...as long as it doesn't target Muslims in headscarves more than Christians wearing cross necklaces or Jews wearing skullcaps.

I think that's been the key part of the propagation of religion and religious persecution over the years. Make it easy to spot and associate with your fellow followers AND easy to spot and persecute those who are not. I'm pretty sure that the earliest example of this was the foreskin. Cut it off at birth so we can always identify you as one of our own. Really, all of this religious branding reminds me of that scene from "Freaks."

Gooble Gobble Gooble Gobble. One of us! One of us!


  1. I love your blog because I always have somethung to say, even if you hate user comments. I think the burqa law is dumd, it looks oppressive to the casual observer. The year in jail thing kicks ass but the thing is in the us people can still wear the referenced ski mask. This law isn't as overty oppressive as it first seems, but your not going to prevent any terrorism and like far too many women in the us ultimately choosing an oppressive tradition is still a personal choice for women

  2. Haha. I only hate myself for READING user comments on places like Yahoo and YouTube because they usually end up full of hate speech. User comments on this blog are welcome.


This is a place for thoughtful discussion or humor, not attacks. If you disagree, please keep it polite. If you wouldn't say it that way in person, don't post it. We're not that angry here. And lighten up. Thanks!