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Lower house in France votes to ban full Islamic veil

Photo: REUTERS

Burqa - Ban the ban

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

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5 Responses

  1. This own goal by France is appaling, authoritarian and highly hyopcrtiical. The left should be ashamed of themselves in France. They knew that by abstaining they were in effect supporting the ban. Some, however, were more outspoken. Communist MP Andre Gerin said yesterday: ‘Talking about liberty to defend the wearing of the full veil is totally cynical – for me, the full veil is a walking coffin, a muzzle.”

    Its not just the commies, remember Jack Straw’s insistence that Muslims must strip off so that he could see their face? So, the Commies of France and Left in the UK sing the same tune. And, before anyone says it, I know there are others on the right here who support a full ban. My point is that the French left were complicit in this illiberal act and we should never forget that.

    To reiterate, when the Communist MP Andre Gerin describes the veil as ‘a walking coffin, a muzzle.’, he is directly comparing Muslim women as dogs. As dogs!

    Of course, the French, who gave Le Front National 17.8% of the vote in the second round of the Presidential elections in 2002 are no strangers to cussing Muslims in the harshest of terms. During the 2005 paris riots, France’s President, Sarkozy described Muslims (whom he blamed for causing all the violence) as ‘voyous’ (thugs) and ‘racaille’ (scum).

    To put French racism in perspective, in the UK elections just gone, The Liberal Democrats got 23% of the vote.10% of France identify as being Muslim, while in the UK the figure is more like 3.8%.

    So, how is it that a country which has such high levels of Muslims relative to the UK, indeed to Europe as a whole, can take the most draconian of steps in oppressing Muslims?

    Dressing up the anti-burka law as a universal anti-face covering law just doesn’t cut it. The law came about directly arising from populist media and politicans rhetoric and their ‘Clash of Civilizations’ debate. That thishas been so successful in France might be better understood when one considers how France viewes Muslims more generally.

    As recently as July 2008, the French Conseil d’Etat turned down an appeal from a Moroccan woman married to a French national: she had been refused French nationality on the grounds of non-integration into republican values. Indeed it is only since 1998 that French-born children of foreign nationals, especially from Muslim countries have even been able to claim citizenship in France.

    Its not that France has joined Switzerland in the now growing European League of Islamophobia, it leads the way and always has done. Still, we are catching up fast. During the 2010 General Election the BNP received 563,743 votes. That’s up from 192,746 votes in 2005 and 47,129 in 2001. I’d call that exponential growth – wouldn’t you? And, be in no doubt that much of the BNP’s recent growth can be attributed to their focus on Muslims.

    I can quite honestly say all this banning, stopping and searching, and now calling us dogs is in my humble opinion less than helpful. I only hope that when as is inevitable that the European Court of Human Rights uphold the appeal of a Muslim women in relation this this law, they then recognise that their evangelical secularism is no different to the persecution of Jews prior to and during the second world war will things get better. But that’s not gonna happen. I’d say Muslims are in deep trouble in France and the UK’s own BNP as well as the English Defence League are not doing so badly here either. The BNP’s defeat in the recent election here was merely a product of Griffin’s ineptness – not the Great British anti-racist voting public.

    I only hope that when as is inevitable that the European Court of Human Rights uphold the appeal of a Muslim women in relation this this law, they then recognise that their evangelical secularism is just old fashioned racism of the worst kind.

    Anyway, who needs Commies, or the left? A French tycoon is setting up a fund to help Muslim women pay ‘burka fines’. Muslim businessman Rachid Nekkaz has promised to sell property worth 1 million euros to finance the fund. Hooray for capitalism. The true depravity of what has occured will be verified by the next elections in France which will, I predict, show much greater levels of support for Islamophobia and anti-Muslim sentiment more generally.

    Imran

  2. My view is that when in Rome do as the Romans do …. as when women go to certain arabic countries they have to vail up and abide by the rule of the land.

    Therefore, one could argue what’s wrong with France telling its female citizens to unveil?

    Either way, as usual, women are being subjugated.

  3. Apologies, I meant certain Islamic countries (not Arabic countries) require all females to wear the vail

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  5. James,

    You’re kidding right?

    Imran

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