Monday, June 22, 2009

First they came for the burqas

In the news today…

Sarkozy Says Burqas 'Not Welcome' in France

PARIS -- President Nicolas Sarkozy lashed out Monday at the practice of wearing the Muslim burqa, insisting the full-body religious gown is a sign of the "debasement" of women and that it won't be welcome in France.

The French leader expressed support for a recent call by dozens of legislators to create a parliamentary commission to study a small but growing trend of wearing the full-body garment in France.

In the first presidential address in 136 years to a joint session of France's two houses of Parliament, Mr. Sarkozy laid out his support for a ban even before the panel has been approved -- braving critics who fear the issue is a marginal one and could stigmatize Muslims in France.

"In our country, we cannot accept that women be prisoners behind a screen, cut off from all social life, deprived of all identity," Mr. Sarkozy said to extended applause in a speech at the Chateau of Versailles, southwest of Paris.

"The burqa is not a religious sign, it's a sign of subservience, a sign of debasement -- I want to say it solemnly," he said. "It will not be welcome on the territory of the French Republic."

This is flat out dangerous. France is a modern nation, in existence for hundreds of years. This seems so out of place in a free democracy. It also makes me think of my wife. She covers her head in public. Will that be outlawed? Will headcoverings have to go underground? It seems a bit of a leap but that is how this sort of thing starts. Grab the easiest mark and then incrementally make changes. I am sure many people (including many in the church) look at the practice of Christian women covering their heads and see it as oppressive even though headcovering is expressly commanded in the Bible and was the practice among Christians for centuries. Even though my wife covers her head voluntarily, I can imagine the argument that would say she is conditioned to do so or secretly forced by the oppressive patriarchy of Christianity and that banning headcoverings is for her own good even if she doesn’t realize it.

I don’t care for the wearing of burqas. On the other hand, it makes me more than a bit uneasy that a Western democracy is contemplating legislation to ban the wearing of a garment, especially one singled out because of religious implications. They have already banned some attire in France…

France enacted a law in 2004 banning the Islamic headscarf and other conspicuous religious symbols from public schools, sparking fierce debate at home and abroad.

Granted France is not America (in that we don’t generally allow the Germans to invade our country periodically) but there are many Americans who look across the pond to Europe and see what they wish America would become. Are we headed for a future where there is rampant, state approved immorality but where outward expressions of religious belief are banned? That seems alarmist but look at the pace of societal collapse we are experiencing now. There are plenty of busybodies who would applaud France for banning burqas and would like to see the same thing here.


Steve Martin said...

A head covering and a burqa are totally different.

I am offended by burqas.

That women would be subjugated like that and be totally covered is an absolute afront to the principles of freedom and openess that this country and other free countries stand for.

This move (if adopted) will help France live awhile longer as a free nation and stall the advance of Islam in their country.

Steve Martin said...

This is where that burqa baloney leads to...and much worse:

Saudi cleric favours one-eye veil

The two-eyed look remains too seductive for Sheikh Habadan
A Muslim cleric in Saudi Arabia has called on women to wear a full veil, or niqab, that reveals only one eye.

Sheikh Muhammad al-Habadan said showing both eyes encouraged women to use eye make-up to look seductive.

The question of how much of her face a woman should cover is a controversial topic in many Muslim societies.

The niqab is more common in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, but women in much of the Muslim Middle East wear a headscarf which covers only their hair.

Sheikh Habadan, an ultra-conservative cleric who is said to have wide influence among religious Saudis, was answering questions on the Muslim satellite channel al-Majd.

Arthur Sido said...

Steve, I find burqas kind of offensive as well. BUT...

In a western democracy, do we want the government deciding which attire is appropriate and which is not based on religious practice? I don't trust the government to teach my kids, I sure don't trust it to clothe them! To you and me and rational people, the difference between the burqa and a head covering are obvious. To a lot of people who hate religion and cannot/will not differentiate between radical Islam and Christianity, there is not difference. These are the same people who think it is akin to child abuse for parents to raise and catechize their children.

I don't like burqas but I don't like government meddling even more.

Ms. Modest Fashion Cents said...

We in western society judge whether or not we think someone is being honest with us based on their facial expressions and body language. This is why it is such an offense to us if we can't see someone's face.

In many middle-eastern societies it's considered very rude to stare at someone's face; especially if your not the same gender. Some cultural differences there that may or may not be religiously based.

I agree though, I find it dangerous that France is trying to legislate what they deem as appropiate attire for someone. That's offensive to my sense of freedom.

On the other hand, I think it's appropiate in the setting of a place of employment, school, court case, driver's licence photos ect that it be mandated that the whole face of staff, student, witness or applicant be visible.

I don't agree with France's head scarf ban. I don't think that is right! And yes, more and more constricting laws erodes everyone's freedom.

So yeah - first they came for the burquas!

Steve Martin said...

If the Muslim men walked around in ski masks, totally hiding their identity, I would make that illegal also.

In an open society some things ought not be tolerated.

How would you feel if someone entered your bank with a ski mask on?

I believe I see your point, and I am as freedom loving person as the next.

This is an expression of the denial of freedom to a whole class of people.

If they forced (peer pressure- as with many burqa wearers)kids to walk around with shackles and heavy chains...I would be against that as well.

Steve Martin said...

Another argument

Arthur Sido said...

Certainly there is a public safety issue. Women who want a drivers license or passport would need their faces exposed. That is fine on an as needed basis, but I just can't see a blanket ban on a style of clothing that some people find offensive.