July 14, 2010
France & Niqabs: Show your face
Having mixed feelings about this, as I have no love for Saudi ninjette wear nor other things called 'burqa' (contra the head scarf, which is harmless, the Saudi inspired all-ninjette wear is a sign of problems). At the same time this takes a small minority and makes them martyrs to their mistaken (or misbegotten) cause. That is a mistake.
FT.com - French lawmakers approve ban on full veil
French lawmakers approve ban on full veilEmphasis added.
France’s National Assembly on Tuesday backed by a crushing majority a bill banning the wearing of the full face veil in public spaces, a garment which politicians across the political spectrum regard as a symbol of religious extremism.
The vote – by 335 to 1 – takes France a step closer to becoming the first democracy to ban women in the street from wearing the niqab or burka. The Belgian parliament is planning a similar clampdown while Spain is proposing to curb the full veil’s use in public buildings.
The bill will now pass to the Senate in September where it is likely to meet little resistance. However, even once enshrined in law it is almost certain to face an eventual legal challenge on the grounds that there is no constitutional basis for an outright ban in public spaces.
The vote is testament to the political consensus in France against the full veil even though it is a marginal phenomenon – only 2,000 women out of a Muslim population of some 5m are thought to wear it.
However, some Muslim community leaders suspect a ban may simply stigmatise all Muslims.
.... the differences between government and opposition on the issue of a “burka ban” are small: the socialists want a ban only in public buildings and services, rather than an outright ban, which they fear could prove unlawful.
France’s Conseil d’Etat, a body that advises on the constitutionality of laws, warned the government earlier this year that “no uncontestable legal basis can be found for an outright and generalised ban on the wearing of the full veil”.
The bill does not specifically ban the face veil but prohibits anyone from wearing an item of clothing to hide his or her face in open spaces, including streets, shops, parks or cafés as well as in public services such as town halls, schools and hospitals. Offenders face a fine of €150 ($191).
A number of items here. Last one first, this evidently is a law that can (and if it can, will) be used for purposes well beyond its original aim. Fines on say street anarchists (hmmm, well I'm almost in favour of that, but liberty is liberty), pretext for legal action against persons with legitimate desires to remain anonymous, etc.
Otherwise, why a law what amounts to a handful of persons? Prejudice in the end. French lawmakers spending time on this is sheer idiocy relative to France's more pressing problems. The only explanation is hysteria and bigotry (2k of say 2.5m women is a minute, infinitesimal percentage, it is literally absurd to be concerned about this to pass a national law).
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Yes, I've seen amazing levels of passion and hatred by non-Muslim Europeans related to this issue. The kind I may have toward someone who kills my father I guess.
See, if it were only about actually banning the ninja veil, my libertarian side would just itch as a result of such a law. But like I said to one of the above Euros, I have yet to see a law of this type whose actual result is the stated purpose.
Like anti-terrorist laws who never needed to exist per se to combat terrorism, the actual incremental result of these laws was a reduction in individual liberties, no more.
Likewise, these "secular" or "feminist" laws that never practically added anything in terms of combating the neo-medieval values of Hasidic Muslims were in fact only populist tools to flex muscles against French Muslims overall, with all the reactionism it creates on all sides.
Oh come on. It's not that complicated.
What this really amounts to is French people feeling the heat of their own consciences, not to mention the ugly looks their getting from French Muslims, so that they feel the need to ban what in effect feels like a sort of public mourning to them
Ban on public mourning.
Because if you ban it, then it will go away.
What's the french saying for that? Out of sight out of mind?
Posted by: Bubba at July 15, 2010 12:19 AM
Despite my own reservations that there are legitimate public identity issues, and the general dislike of the anti-female freedom theme of niqab, and the misrepresentation of it as mainstream Islam, my libertarian fundamentalism is correct: this is primarily anti-liberty b.s.
It does strike me as a weird "liberalism" or "secularism" or "feminism" or "progressivism" that publicly micromanages and coerces by state force one interpretation of a religion, which should be a private matter, and an interpretation that has bearing on the conscientiously held views of individual women of a socially despised minority directed at the express purpose of choosing what to do with their body.
Whatever that is, it ain't liberal, secular, feminist, or progressive. It does sound like bigoted nationalism. And indeed it mostly is.
Liberty, equality, fraternity . . . or else.
Also one of the core values of liberty is the right to be an ostentatious non-conformist. Niqab in France is, unlike Saudi Arabia, most emphatically a public ostentatious statement of non-conformity. Liberty protects that, or should; it is an illiberal impulse that wants to punish non-conformity specifically, and punishing visible non-comformity is one of the stated purposes of the action.
(This is somewhat easier for us Americans than Euros to grasp because many of our Euro ancestors -- and the earliest founding ones -- came here specifically to be safe in practicing and identifying thmeselves in some religious subcultural weirdness.)
Posted by: matthew hogan at July 15, 2010 09:10 AM
The veil, the Burka, minarets.. What's next?
I think the Halal restaurants and no alcohol shops has the potential to develop into the next absurdity, at least in France...
Posted by: xoussef at July 16, 2010 08:56 PM