For Muslim women who cover their faces with veils, it is time for liberation. Starting April 11, a new law in France banning garments that hide the face takes effect. Women or men who disobey it risk a fine, special classes and a police record. The fines are greater if a minor is forced to wear the veil against her will.
Interior Minister Claude Gueant put it bluntly Monday: “This growth in the number of (Muslims) and a certain number of behaviors cause problems,” he commented on French radio. “There is no reason why the nation should accord to one particular religion more rights than religions that were formerly anchored in our country.” Debate is needed to address evolutions in French society, such as a growing demand for mosque building and Islamic butchers since the country’s 1905 law formally separated the state from the Catholic Church.
This is another one of those cases that most of us just don’t get. Why did Karima (wont give her surname) go to France if she didn’t want to live as the French do? I mean, there are many Muslim countries around the world she could have emigrated to, where she could cover her whole body in black sheets, where she would be just another faceless, nameless, woman, with no rights.
Apparently, women are supporting their men in the current riots in Arab countries; riots for more freedoms and less oppression for women and men. And yet, here we have some 2,000 women in France who wish to cover themselves from head to foot, despite the new law. The increasing focus on France’s Muslims, who number at least 5 million, comes with presidential elections a year away and support for a far-right party growing. A recent palpable rise in tensions has also been boosted by fears of a mass migration of Muslims due to disarray in the Arab world.
In unusual terms for a secular leader, Sarkozy extolled the virtues of his country’s “Christian heritage” during a recent visit to Puy-en-Velay, the starting point of a famed medieval Christian pilgrimage route. “Without identity there is no diversity,” the president said. “The (French) republic is secular. It belongs to each citizen without any distinction.”
When in Rome, do as the Romans do.
Perhaps it is not the fact of wearing a burqa, per se, that is disconcerting to some people. It just may be about muslims wanting to be superior, to stand out from the rest, to have their own butchers, mosques, schools, etc, making European countries seem more like Muslim countries. We in the West are called ‘infidels’ after all. I believe that most tolerant people don’t mind headscarfs, at least you can see facial expressions. The burqa can be very intimidating, especially in black. And all those mosques popping up everywhere! It would be just as bad if there were huge Catholic cathedrals and royal palaces everywhere. History teaches us that to be too different, can be very dangerous, especially in times of food and job shortages.