Should Muslim woman be allowed to wear the full Islamic veil in France?
The justification that is being offered, in removing this fundamental right of freedom of expression, is (according to the resolution passed in French Parliament in May) the veil is an “…attack on dignity and equality between men and woman”.
Yesterday French MPs voted in favour of the ban with 336 members of the French National Assembly voting in favour of the bill to 1. A large number of the 557 members who only wanted to see the ban introduced to public buildings, abstained from the vote.
According to the French Justice Minister,a Michele Alliot-Marie “Democracy thrives when it is open” and while the bill will needs to be ratified before the French Senate before it can become law, it seems that the French government are determined to see this law into fruition. The Justice Minister has said that the proposed bill is not aimed at “stigmatising or singling out a religion”.
We could forgive the 2000 or so women in France who choose to wear the veil for not sharing the same view. With a population of more than 60 million, and with a Muslim population of around 5 million – most of whom are against the bill – the move targets a small number of people unashamedly.
This debate is far from over and runs alongside the growing problem of the rise of fascism in other European countries. Indeed, there are many who believe that the French President Nicolas Sarkozy is using this issue as a cynical political smokescreen to try to attract far-right voters.
Whilst this debate continues – even if it becomes law it will be opposed on many levels – it seems that other countries are set to introduce a similar bill.
Whatever happened to France being the liberal country we remember? Their politics has always had those among the ranks who harbour extreme and racist views but this move is a step in the wrong direction. Other countries seem ready to jump on this bandwagon with Belgium being next.
After the vote, Justice Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said it was a victory for democracy and for French values.
“Values of freedom against all the oppressions which try to humiliate individuals; values of equality between men and women, against those who push for inequality and injustice.”
This statement seems a to be in direct contradiction to the law the French government is seeking to implement. Woman should not be forced to wear the veil, but equally they should not be forced not to wear it.
By Richard Sudan
Filed under: Discrimination |