France Bans the Burqa

France’s ban on full face veils, a first in Europe, went into force on Monday, making anyone wearing the Muslim niqab or burqa in public liable to a fine of 150 euros ($216) or lessons in French citizenship.

Reuters – April 11, 2011
The Takeaway – France’s Burqa Ban, One Year Later – April 11, 2012

One year ago, France implemented the “burqa ban,” a restriction on Muslim women covering their faces in the burqa or niqab. Advocates for the ban argued it would free women of gender enslavement and help Muslims better integrate into French society. The ban received widespread support in France and even some Muslim organizations supported the legislation.

Takeaway producer Arwa Gunja traveled to Paris as a reporting fellow with the International Center for Journalists to examine the impact of the law over the last year. She met with Lila Citar, who wears the niqab and started the online organization “Amazones de la Liberte,” a support and advocacy network for those who continue to wear the niqab. According to Citar, all women in her organization chose to wear the Muslim garb — they are not forced to do so. Citar also explains that many of these women fear leaving their homes because they may be subject to fines by the police or harassment on the streets.

The Takeaway – France’s Burqa Ban, One Year Later – April 11, 2012

Not allowing the face to be covered in public is simple public safety. If you cannot see who people are, then any number of criminal types can go around hooded and claim religious sanction for their anonymity.

The woman who is so treated, forcing her into anonymity, is nothing more than property. Women are not property and it is illegal for them to be treated in this way. Her husband tells her to wear the veil, and she wears the veil out of fear of being murdered, a sad fact of existence in these immigrant groups in France. Murdered or raped for being seen as promiscuous, for showing her face to the world. It’s not HER CHOICE even if she disseminates and says it is. The fear of reprisal is what motivates. This is not a freedom of choice issue, a “I’ll wear a head covering if I want” kind of rebellion. Habituation to being covered while in public should not be mistaken for a desire to be unseen while out in public.

We aren’t talking about scarves here. The French ban is on the Burqa.

The key argument supporting this proposal is that face-coverings prevent the clear identification of a person, which is both a security risk, and a social hindrance within a society which relies on facial recognition and expression in communication. The key argument against the ban is that it encroaches on individual freedoms.

Voices in Islam stated that the face-covering veil is actually not Islamic and is not encouraged by the Quran. Instead, they say that it is part of Muslim cultural heritage.

Amnesty International condemned the passage of the bill in the Assembly as a violation of the freedom of expression of those women who wear the burqa or hijab. RTBF columnist François De Smet responded that this could not be considered a matter of freedom of expression or even religion, since face coverings are but a relic of tribal tradition; that it is face coverings that amount to violation of the freedom of expression, as they block the exchange of facial expressions which as Emmanuel Levinas pointed out are the basis for a moral participation in society; and that the neurotic search for purity that motivates facial coverings ultimately represents the “radical rejection of others” and conveys contempt for others who are not deemed worthy of sharing the wearer’s facial expressions

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

You do not have a right to faceless anonymity while in public. I’m going to stand on that in principle. You do not have the ability to abrogate your rights. You cannot willingly make yourself a slave of another. So even if she wants to be enslaved to her husband in private, in public she is and will be treated as a person, and will be required to treat with people with her face uncovered. This is true because we have a right to know who we are doing business with.

It is not the women who want to be covered and are rioting; it is the men who want to subjugate their women authoritatively who are rioting. Women appeared in support of the ban before it was passed. You might see yourself as defending women’s choice in arguing against the burqa ban, but the men who run the countries where the burqa is required for women don’t see women having a choice at all.

Do you really think you have the right to impose your religious and philosophical beliefs on someone else?

This isn’t about religious freedom, any more than Hobby Lobby really cares about contraception as a religious principle, rather than as a dollar figure on a ledger. This is about maintaining control of the women in that religion.

The ban is on all face covering in public. NO ONE can claim anonymity as a religious sanction. I stand behind that, again, in principle. It is the core of human interaction, to have a face to put on the people you do business with.

I can virtually guarantee that no cop in the US allows a woman (you can’t tell what they are under those coverings) to claim some sort of religious exemption when they do their stop and frisks or even your average traffic stop. At some point that veil will come off, either on the street or at the police station.

Were we in France’s situation we’d have to ban the covering. Luckily, people who come here from areas that force their women to go covered do so because they want to, knowing that they will have to abandon most of their traditions when they get here. Even so, there are people who want the US to allow coverings and female genital mutilation because their traditions demand that women be treated in this fashion. Some of them are women, women who want to subject their daughters to the same crippling punishment they suffered under.

Desert Flower: The Extraordinary Journey Of A Desert Nomad by Waris Dirie

If the United States was drowning in people like North Africans entering France in record numbers, imagine what would happen if they also carried these backwards beliefs about the uncleanliness of women. If they refused to integrate into American society, and felt no need to?

The skepchick makes a valid point in the blog entry, a point about laws banning tribal dress like the burqa causing women to be even more isolated, but there’s clearly disagreement among women as to the effectiveness of the law. What I would say to the skepchick is that you are isolated behind the veil, so there is no connection established with outside society if you cover yourself when you go out. Consequently, while the ban might lead to more isolation and ostracism, the practice itself allows for the exact same thing. At least by passing the ban, France has staked out it’s position.

Facebook Hat/tip to a Facebook friend for the long Wikipedia quote.

Author: RAnthony

I'm a freethinking, unapologetic liberal. I'm a former CAD guru with an architectural fetish. I'm a happily married father. I'm also a disabled Meniere's sufferer.

Attacks on arguments offered are appreciated and awaited. Attacks on the author will be deleted.

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