As from today it is illegal to wear the full face veil in France. The French have now enacted the law that prevents women from being seen in public wearing the veil, otherwise called the Burqa or Hijab, covering the face for cultural reasons.
The state has been generous enough to allow people to wear these items in the privacy of their own homes or as a passenger in a car. Some reports have stated that they would not be able to “drive” the car, and they won’t be arrested for getting into the car. How tolerant.
I sometimes feel I am walking into a 3D Monty Python sketch, in short you really couldn’t make it up.
Personally, I do not care for these pieces of clothing. They seem backward looking and repressive in nature, but really that is not the point. To ban a piece of clothing because somehow it is not deemed French enough just seems ridiculous.
Having read a piece in the Telegraph by William Langley which I personally felt was quite shocking, what was worse however was the almost unanimous points of view expressed in the comments.
I will no doubt be roundly set upon for writing this piece, and branded one of the PC brigade, but the intolerance, arrogance and nationalistic nature shown by this law and those that support it sounds like a throwback to a bygone era.
I applaud the French for separating their state from religion and for keeping religion out of their education system, a secular society in my view can only be a good thing, but is this really to do with being a secular society?
I could understand the need to insist on people not covering their faces in airports or banks for security reasons. Having a reasonable and proportional response to genuine practical difficulties would be a sensible action by any society. However, to completely ban a cultural item of clothing, however distasteful we may deem it is surely simply an act of intolerance and nothing to do with any real problem at hand.
The press are alive with talk of the need for Sarkozy to appease the rising right wing for his electoral success. Is this a good enough reason to ban the veil?
The rhetoric we continually hear over the Muslim faith in some quarters is alarming. We are told that Islam is intolerant and seeks to usurp other religions. To dominate societies in which it breeds. But is this not exactly what all religions do?
Certainly, Christianity has been one of the most intolerant and reprehensible religions in the past, wanting to spread it’s word and replace other faiths at will. It’s history is littered with genocide and torture.
Other religions have an arrogance that their religion is the right one and everyone should see the “light”, and follow their prescription of faith and life.
Should we then ban all religions?
Or perhaps we should just ban certain aspects of life we disagree with and ensure that people only practice these hideous ways of life in a private residence. We could outlaw homosexuality again, but allow it in blacked out cars or private homes, just so long as you don’t have a gay “lifestyle” in public. Would that make us feel more British or French?
It just seems ridiculous to me that a society should ban an article of clothing from all public places however disagreeable we may find it culturally.
We all make mistakes in life, and modify or change our beliefs. I profoundly disagree with women being subservient to men or feeling that they have to hide their face or bodies because men will not be able to control themselves if they do. It is insulting to men and women. But in the end, it is a matter of choice and personal beliefs.
The narrative which is being written by this type of law is more divisive and unhealthy. It will not deal with the underlying problems of French society which is divided socially and culturally because of a multitude of reasons. Ghettoisation of communities is a problem in many European countries, including the UK. In France it is particularly prevalent. Banning the Burqa will not address the problems of inequality and discrimination, and may well add to it.
Europe appears to be heading toward a confrontation with Islam, largely due to fear and maybe a realisation that the future may well be toward the east and no longer with the west in so many ways. Culturally, economically and politically.
The banning of the veil is a retrograde step that is fascistic in nature, discriminatory and unhelpful. Those calling on the ban here in the UK are fighting the wrong battles within our society and are going to cause more and not less intolerance.
In the end this policy is intolerant, authoritarian and right wing; it panders to the worst of human nature, that is fear of something they do not understand. Just because we do not like something does not mean we have to ban it. To make matters worse it is of course unenforceable.