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France Outlaws Female Muslim Attire

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Many feel that peace in the modern world hinges on closer ties and better understanding between the Judeo-Christian community on the one hand, and the vast and encompassing Muslim community on the other. The world, we know, is changing at a swifter pace than ever before. With modern communication, students and visionaries around the globe are moving in inexorable waves toward the dream of peace and democratization. We in  America aspire to lead the way, sweeping with us our allies around the world. Great Britain, France, and now large areas of the Arab world have seen the dream and responded to the call.

So, we have to wonder, or perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised, at the capacity of the great cultures of the world to move one step forward, then a half step back. In America we are laboring hard to grasp the truth in Muslim belief, and to accept the diverse Muslim population. Great Britain now has such a massive Islamic population that the British destiny is to be multicultural, and mutually responsive. We continue to hold out hope for the Holy Lands in Israel/Palestine, where varying cultures struggle to hold on to their sacred shrines.

Why then, now does France, always impulsive, always emotional, sometimes romantic, need to be in exception? The Muslim population of France is around five million. Of two and a half Muslim women in France, 2000 of these women
choose to wear the traditional Muslim garb, the niqab, or the burqa. The niqab covers the face with an opening for the eyes. The niqab sometimes goes in and out of fashion. The buqa is similar; it is a full body covering with a mesh over the eyes.

France, for a number or reasons, has now declared it unlawful to wear this clothing in public, and unlawful to force a minor to wear them. Noncompliance results in a fine of about $150, a period of public service, or both. Apparently aimed directly at Islamic religious institutions, the law imposes a substantial fine (about $45,000) for forcing persons to wear the traditional garb. The laws were passed in October of 2010, but with a six month period of non-prosecution, to allow individuals to get used to the new order; that six months ended in March.

Lawmakers claim to be motivated by a concern that people must  be readily identifiable. French Prime Minister Francois Fillon told the government newspaper, “The French Republic lives in a bare-headed fashion.” A Muslim woman, compelling her daughters to wear the coverings in question now is guilty according to the the French government of, “a new form of enslavement that the republic cannot accept on its soil.” The French Constitutional Council addressed the issue of free expression. They say that since the free exercise of religion is not restricted, the law is consistent with the French constitution. They say that the wearing of niqabs and burqas detracts from the dignity of the person, and from equality of the sexes, and cannot be tolerated. Jean-Francois Cope of the French Parliament is the driving force behind the new legislation; he makes the argument that a key to human understanding is “to see a persons face.” He views the law as a step against “separation.”
The lawmakers also cite issues of security.

About 82% of French people agree with the ban. A protest of the new restrictions is scheduled for Monday, April 11.

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About John Lake

John Lake had a long and successful career in legitimate and musical theater. He moved up into work behind the camera at top motion pictures. He has done a smattering of radio, and television John joined the Blogcritics field of writers owing to a passion for the liberal press, himself speaking out about the political front, and liberal issues. Now the retired Mr. Lake has entered the field of motion picture, television, and video game (now a daily gamer!) critique. His writing is always innovative and immensely readable!
  • Joe

    The Russians are correct if they mean there will be no true peace in the Middle East in the near future. But according to Bible prophecy a pseudo, short-lived peace could be in place in the very near future.

    As has been the case for numbers of years in the Middle East, there are world leaders working to bring a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and bring peace to this war-torn region. Now a Russian expert on the Middle East says there will be no peace in the foreseeable future, most likely not in the next two decades.

    If we look at the history of the peacemaking process, the Russians are most likely correct; however, when you look at current events in light of Biblical prophecy, you will realize how close we could be to peace in the Middle East; howbeit, a pseudo, short-lived peace.

    The ancient Jewish prophet Daniel, wrote that there would come out of the Revived Roman Empire, a world leader that will confirm a peace agreement in the Middle East, Daniel 7:7-24 and Daniel 9:27.

    The ratification of the European Union treaty and the election of the two main leaders for the European Union has put in place all that is needed to revive the old Roman Empire. The leader of that powerful political structure will be the one to confirm, not sign, but to confirm the three peace treaties that Israel has already on the table with their neighbors, Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinians.

    Again I must say, the prophecy of Daniel 9:27 will be fulfilled.

  • John Lake

    On further consideration, one might surmise that some women in France insist upon their daughters wearing the traditional attire to school, which the Parliamentarians might see as detrimental to the children. If that is the case, we shouldn’t be so quick to judge. Also we are aware of a number of ways of writing the word, “burga”:(ex: burqa, bourkha, burkha, burga, burqua…)

  • zingzing

    on one hand, i don’t like france telling people they can’t wear something that has a religious origin. on the other hand, that religious origin is pretty fucked up and rooted in subjugating women. to which side do you err? it’s a fucking conundrum.

  • zingzing

    i should have said “religious and/or cultural origin.” i like religious freedom, but it’s frankly the cultural stuff i’d rather protect. (not that the burqa is a favorite cultural tradition of mine.) (that said, it does make all the women look like badass ninjas, and that’s cool… even if it’s got the opposite effect in the end. it’s really hard to be inconspicuous when your stick out that much, i guess.)

  • zingzing

    also, did you read about the new dutch literacy laws? europe might be gearing up for a little bit of fascism again. LEARN YOUR LESSON, EUROPE. (you suck at hate.)

  • LynnfromBC

    If a closer look at the issues was taken one would see that this is about deterring immigration, primarily from Algeria. I would vouch for a political premise, not a prejudicial one on this issue as there are no restrictions on the women wearing traditional garb in a mosque.

    In terms of religion, bareheaded women are sanctioned by the Apostle Paul in the New Testament while in church, citing women’s long hair as being enough of a covering while in attendance of a Christian gathering. France is a Christian country.

    Both Jewish and Muslim women keep the veil on in holy services. This marks submission to GOD, not man.

    Conversely, in the Tuareg tribes of Northern Africa it is the men who wear a blue veil and not the women. They wear it their whole life from the age of 18 onward.

    Very interesting article.

  • John Lake

    Lynn our Canadian Cohort adds:
    “…deterring immigration, primarily from Algeria….”
    Certainly an aspect I wouldn’t have thought of!

  • France: “We need to force women not to wear the hijab in case they are being forced to wear it. Down with women’s oppression–women should be free to do what we tell them is freeing.”

  • John Lake

    If we read it as a discussion of “women’s rights”, it becomes a different matter entirely. In that case I stand by my condemnation of the French Parliamentarians as being out-of-touch, and lacking in the pursuit of freedom. However, if we feel more strongly the need to protect and defend the innocent children, I stand by my comment #2, above.

  • Children are completely oppressed. What they can wear, as well as whether they have any rights at all, are all determined by oppressive institutions.

    Innocent children cannot be ‘free’ by limiting some other culture’s oppressive demands, while not seeing those of our own culture.

  • Put another way: Your culture retains its prerogative to determine what children will wear while claiming another cultures style is oppressive. How does this protect innocent children?

    News flash: you (those who adhere to western cultural norms) are all oppressing children and guess what? I guarantee that you have adopted the believe that it is good for them and necessary.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Cindy, if it’s too personal a question you don’t have to answer. But I wonder: do you have any children?

    Your comments are most interesting and I think understanding where you’re coming from specifically and personally may help in fostering understanding.

  • No, I don’t unfortunately, Jordan. Though I actually went to school to receive a psychology degree for the sole purpose of becoming an ‘educated’ mother. I was unable to conceive, unfortunately. Still, children, have been the focus of my life. I have had the opportunity to work with and join in the raising of a number of the tiny folks as well as study them (like bugs 🙂 and also) like beings who should be taken seriously.

  • Jordan Richardson

    I absolutely agree with you. They should be taken seriously.

    I do wonder how children are “completely oppressed,” however, especially in a loving home. I find it interesting that you would consider my parents to be oppressive, as I’m sure they adhere, at least in some part, to “western cultural norms.”

    What I’m concerned with is being so readily dismissive. Isn’t there room here to foster understanding and kindness – even from a “western” perspective?

    With respect to dress codes, are they necessarily cruel or unjust in every circumstance? Uniforms are a funny thing. Some children actually really do like the uniform, some hate them, some don’t give a rip.

    But there are other components to consider.

    In Washington state, for example, part of the dress code there has to do with avoiding gang colours. This is based on experience (my wife went to school in the state) and comes, at least I think, largely with the safety of the children in mind. The sad fact is that a child can wear the “wrong colours” and be put in considerable danger. I hesitate to think that the school “outlawed” red (as an example, I don’t know what they’ve banned or not banned specifically) with the express intent of being oppressive or cruel.

    So I fear you’re casting a wider net than is necessary. Some children are most assuredly oppressed, without question. Others are living lives that you would consider to be perhaps asleep – in accordance with your worldview, POV, etc. – but they, in their experiences, would consider themselves to be happy. Maybe they don’t realize how unhappy they are or how unhappy they ought to be.

    So now I wonder, as a parent (I am not a parent yet), how do you prevent or avoid oppressing your own child? Suppose a parent is as well-meaning as you are, but they’re blinded by the “western cultural norms” and are clearly oppressing their own child – loving relationship or not. How do you prevent that error and ensure that innocent children (even the guilty ones!) are not treated in a cruel or unjust matter?

    I know it’s a bit of a rambling comment, but I couldn’t help but think of those things when I was reading your comment. We hate to think of ourselves as being oppressed, especially when we’re so happy.

    But are we?

  • Jordan Richardson

    I want to add that I’m taking oppression to mean exercising control or authority in an unjust, cruel manner.

    I wonder, too, while I’m here. What about those dress codes arranged by the community? Or by a parent?

    I always figure it’s something I would talk about with my child. He or she could wear whatever he or she wanted to some extent, but I’ll be damned if I wouldn’t find a tween daughter’s decision to walk out of the house in a pair of shorts with “Juicy” written across her ass a touch distressing.

  • Let me address one issue for now and the rest later. In order for children to be completely oppressed, it is not necessary for your parents (or there parents) to be oppressive at all.

    I would never presume such a thing about your parents.

  • Actually, I have sat with and discussed school uniforms with children who come from gang areas. I understand that in a world that creates gangs (The same world that creates dress codes.), there are all manner of contradictory actions needed to be undertaken. So, for example, the poor children in the school, who could not afford the ‘cool’ clothing and would be abused and bullied because of that, benefited from the uniforms because they were no longer being picked on.

    There are preferable ways of dealing with these circumstances than bandaging them and continuing to replicate the inherent problems. The culture creates problems and then creates rules to solve the problems. all his is taken for granted by everyone to be the normal and natural circumstances that come from living in a complex society. The way to deal with the problems is to eliminate them altogether. That would be the problems of gangs, bullies, and the problem homage to material wealth as a measure of human worth and status.

    (P.S. I have also done my time as a school drop out and an ’emotionally disturbed’ teen who went to a school where they were able to reach children who were having problems in the normal school atmosphere (you know, the sane kids). Guess how? By doing what I suggested above. This also worked with gang kids in California–see Freedom Writers and Erin Gruwell for how this happened quite accidentally.)

  • LynnfromBC

    Historically France has had a long history in association with Algeria. The country is trying to establish a secular society more in line with other European countries, and that means a move away from public displays of religious symbols in relation to patriotic alliances.

    There are other European countries that also ban face coverings and one of them is Turkey.

    From a security standpoint this is an efficient way of making sure no one is using the Burka to get past security checks. There is no law against men putting on a Burka with full face coverings, but there is a law in some islamic countries where a woman could be killed for showing her face to anyone other than her husband.

    If France or any other country were to respect a cultural custom such this, just to appear to be accepting and tolerant of the said culture, it could, in their view, compromise security. How much it is worth to a country to impose or not impose this kind of law determines the stance. France appears to want security and anyone else can move elsewhere.

    Regarding the rights of women and children, I would not say that this is a targeted at them in particular, but to anyone who wants to cover their faces in public. But, it opens up that can of worms, and as Cindy points out, the society has created a whole new problem with the new rules. The French have merely removed their own veil problem, not the problem or non-problem of the veil.

    However, the question of who feels oppressed is relative only to those who choose to allow it to oppress them. It can get into a really ugly power and control issue at the family level.

    Husbands can be charged up to 40 000 Euro’s for forcing a woman to wear the veil. If she has a husband who demands loyalty at all costs, she is in trouble. If she chooses to keep it on she will pay, if she removes it, it will very likely be her who will face much more pain and anguish than either her husband or the government. She may feel oppressed that she can not choose to keep it on live and go about her life in peace, happy to protect her children in like manner.

    I understand that it’s hard for many of us to step out of our westernized box and put ourselves in these positions without feeling outraged. It is an alien cultural convention and outside of the comfort zone, but it is what it is.

  • John Lake

    You provide wonderful insights; you often do!

  • LynnfromBC

    Thanks John, but pole dancing is fun too! LOL

  • Jordan Richardson

    There are preferable ways of dealing with these circumstances than bandaging them and continuing to replicate the inherent problems.

    Of course. But my issue is that I’m not convinced such actions are necessarily “oppressive.”

    The way to deal with the problems is to eliminate them altogether.

    Again, of course. But, again, there’s a massive gulf between idea and practical application.

  • LynnfromBC

    Just kidding…however, what Cindy is pointing out regarding gangs, colors, and school uniforms is very close to the way these things play out in these cultures when the government gets involved in deciding this kind of an issue. I think it is relevant that a Tuareg man would in France would also face the same restrictions and that fact takes out the oppression of women and children issue, but not the population issue.

  • Jordan Richardson

    pole dancing is fun too!

    Typical BCer. 😉

  • LynnfromBC

    I couldn’t resist being that we are talking about veils and oppression.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Here’s hoping the Canucks “oppress” the Blackhawks.

  • LynnfromBC

    It’s always a good game between these two teams, but I don’t watch hockey much, just the highlights.