April 11, 2011
France & the Niqab ban
While I am 100% against the banning of the hidjab - partially out of my liberal social instincts and dislike of government intrusion in areas social, partially due to my understanding that there is a lot of different social territory covered by the hidjab, the French ban on "Full-Face Veils in Public" (NYTimes.com) I have some sympathy for.
Unlike the Hidjab, the Niqab is qualitatively another thing. Covering the face so that only two slits of eyes show has rather more fundamental implications than covering up the hair.
TrackBack URL for this entry:
Not a fundamentally different thing, I think. It's a religious garment to its users all the same, even if it's a freakshow in the eyes of everyone else.
The practical problems of niqab wear (ID etc) are all manageable, and while the argument that it is a sign of extremism may be true, that's no cause for a ban. (A chin beard, skull cap and short thobe on men can be just as significant in that regard. Should we ban that?) Plus, symbolic bans like this are likely to help Wahhabi-style groups recruit more than it hurts them.
The political dynamics behind the ban are also really disturbing. Even if there are some well-intentioned supporters, the French ban seems to be 99% about Muslim-bashing, very thinly disguised as "defense of secularism" or "feminism" or whatever. There's no telling where it will stop, and frankly, now that this law is in effect, a ban on normal hijab just got a lot more likely...
Posted by: alle at April 11, 2011 05:18 PM
Disagree, though not vehemently, with Mr. L's original post. Full face issues do get a little dicey for separate reasons, yes d'accord, but in the end, in France (and elsewhere, eg secularist extremists, "moderate" extremists), it's just a "don't wear the uniform of the enemy" sentiment and/or a smash the ratons sentiment and/or "don't dress like that, everyone associates that with all of us other Muslimahs now".
Also, can we let social Ataturkism die already, and stay dead, like the man.
Content-based banning ("prohibited by law to wear outfit N in general public for it communicates X...") is illiberal. Further, the type of person who wears this in France is NOT likely a person who is humbly and submissiviely AVOIDING attention, quite the opposite: it is as in-your-face (with a hidden face, no less)a form of expression as flag burning. Which shouldnt be banned.
And in noraml human social life anywhere, when it comes to clothes, there are few areas of life where non-legal/social conformity forms of influencing action are more prevalent. "Oh my god, girlfriend, did you see what she was wearing today?" has far more coercive power than a court citation.
Posted by: matthew h at April 12, 2011 11:47 AM
Not sure if I agree with myself actually. The Niqab I do find something that goes to a point where it can be objectionable. I wouldn't bad it per se, but I have zero sympathy as well, unlike hidjab which I do not see as having any inherently objectionable qualities.
Posted by: The Lounsbury at April 18, 2011 08:16 AM