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View Diary: The One About A Follow Up To France's Law Banning The Burqa Is Anti-Woman. (32 comments)

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  •  "French Secularism" (5+ / 0-)

    My question would be what has the adherence to "French secularism" accomplished as far as integrating different cultures into French society? Secularism is a good thing when it comes to governing, making policy decisions, and using the power of the state. But when enforced upon the everyday lives of a populace, against their own choices, it creates an atmosphere where some people are going to feel that this policy seems to function more as one designed to protect some sort of imagined "purity" of French culture.  

    As close as 2005, there have been full blown riots throughout the country because of the treatment of French society towards French muslims.

    Also, the "veil policy" didn't just happen in a vacuum. It comes in the shadow of policies towards other ethnic groups. Just last year, there were officials within the European Union who likened the French forced deportations of Romani (aka Gypsies) to Vichy France's collaboration with Nazi Germany to expel Jews.

    The following is from an article from some years back by Jocelyne Cesari, a Senior Research Fellow at the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), La Sorbonne, Paris and a research Fellow in Political Science, associated with the Center for Middle Eastern Studies and the Center for American Politics at Harvard University.

    There exists an aversion to religious expression in France that is entirely unknown in the United States. Pluralism and competition between religions have marked American society since its origin. Religious differences were common among the first migrants to America, while the religious history of Europe has been dominated by the monopoly of one faith in each national context. As the United States grew, so did the diversity of its religious makeup, as Catholics and Jews and, more recently, Muslims and Buddhists have all found a place in American society. Migrants came to America to practice their religion unmolested, and the freedom of religious expression is a substantial part of the freedom of expression and individuality that are the hallmarks of American society. On the other hand, in France, religious expression is often seen as the cause of public and civic perturbations — something that needs to be regulated and controlled, rather than preserved or encouraged...

    The dominant perception of Muslims in France is based upon an inaccurate but still-lingering colonial image of a violent and static Islam. Negative associations with Islam, inspired by a tumultuous colonial history (particularly the war in Algeria) remain in the French collective memory. And the veil, in particular, is often perceived as an outdated symbol of female subjugation. The status of women in Islam appears to many as the antithesis of the principle of non-discrimination that governs relations between individuals in French society. Some go so far as to put the veil on par with the swastika as a divisive symbol...

    In the United States, Islam is merely a component of a diverse religious landscape. It is also the fastest growing religion in the country (the rate of conversion to Islam in the U.S. is extremely high in comparison to Europe). Half of the American Muslim community is composed of converts — primarily, but not exclusively, African Americans. This does not mean that Islam has been completely accepted into American society, especially after 9/11. But in the U.S., unlike France, there is a strong judicial tradition of defending religious freedom. Thus, the American judiciary can rule on cases of religious discrimination without creating a nationwide debate — which is why wearing the hijab isn’t a political issue in the U.S., even post-9/11.

    •  I think this law is problematic (2+ / 0-)

      precisely because it effectively targets only one major religion. I can't support that. As a committed secularist, however, I would support a law which would ban wearing any visible religious symbol in public places, from a cross to a burqa.

      Furthermore, I would prevent the state and local self-government from entering into any legal transaction with a religious organisation, provided a comparable legal transaction can be carried out with a secular organisation. But that's just me.

      Iuris praecepta sunt haec: Honeste vivere, alterum non laedere, suum cuique tribuere. - Ulpian, Digestae 1, 3

      by Dauphin on Sat Apr 16, 2011 at 02:02:10 AM PDT

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      •  The law is wrong because it's one of those laws (9+ / 0-)

        which are passed for political reasons. It pleases right-wing voters.
        This laws also pleases most feminists, notably feminists from the maghrebi community, and some 'laicists'. From an electoral viewpoint, what matters is right-wing voters. But the 'feminists' and laicists who support the law grant it a form of respectability.

        This law is wrong, not because it is based on laicity principles. It is wrong because it doesn't make sense. Burqa-wearing women are extremely rare in france - I've never seen one in my life except on TV recently - and you don't pass a law to ban a behaviour which is so rare and pretty innocuous. In fact by banning it they will prompt more women to wear the Burqa out of solidarity/for provocation and that's stupid. There is no tradition of wearing the Burqa in the muslim community in France, nor in the countries from which this community originates.

        It is wrong also because it is redundant. Before this law was passed, it was already prohibited to walk the streets with your face hidden - irrespective of religion.

        Passing this law was just a manoeuvre. But within the French value system, it is quite right that this kind of attire should be prohibited.
        As I said previously, this law is directed at the muslim community, not at women.


        •  I agree with you (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Regina in a Sears Kit House

          I absolutely abhor the Burqua. I feel that it was created by an extremist faction of Islam to oppress women's rights and basically make them invisable. That being said, I can understand a nation making laws to assure that women are not being forced to wear them, but not disallowing them from wearing them if it is their choice.

          Their is a very fine line dividing what can be construed to be "overtly" religious from other types of secular clothing, headwear, jewelry etc. The robe which the Dali Lamma is wearing, resembles any number of secular robes/shawls. And why should anyone else be offended if I choose to wear a cross or Star of David on a pendant? Overt symbols of one's religion do not take anything away from one's patriotism. Jewelry and clothing are expressions of one's individuality and beliefs. It is really no different banning these items than it is to ban free speech. Are people not allowed to SPEAK of their religious beliefs in public in France?

          As far as security is concerned....someone could just as easily conceal bombs/weapons under a large jacket or other loose fitting clothing. And there could be a provision in French law that requires someone to reveal their face momentarily for security and/or ID purposes.

          •  The notion of free speech is interpreted (0+ / 0-)

            very differently in France and in the US. In the US free speech is a freedom which seems to be set above all other rights. In France there are a number of fundamental rights and principles, which include freedom of speech. Each of these rights and principles is sacred, but none can be carried to the extent that it infringes upon another one.  
            Laicity is one of these fundamental principles.

            The US constitution (the way it is understood and implemented) is very individualistic. The French constitution establishes a balance between individual and collective rights. That explains why our right to bear arms is severely limited by the right of others to live in a secure society,  the right of expression is also limited by the right of other people not to be hurt or unjustly attacked verbally, taxes can be raised in order to create collective protections and anybody pretending that it's illegal would be laughed at.

            In a school, you're not allowed to carry conspicuous religious signs, and you are supposed to be discrete and unobtrusive about your religious creeds because the school is the most sacred place of the French Republic.

            In public, you are perfectly allowed to carry religious conspicuous religious signs or clothing. A priest, the Dalai Lama or anybody else, for that matter, is allowed to dress the way they like in public as well as in private.

            I think that the problems the partisans of this bill have with the burqa are more or less the ones you have (and I have too). Hiding completely a woman's body (and why not a man's?) is going too far, is negating that person's dignity according to the codes of the French society as of 2011. It is, in short, an obscenity. Just as walking naked in the streets poses a problem to that same society. You could argue that walking naked in the streets is a form of expression which should be protected. It is not, because it's contrary to our accepted codes to too great an extent. In the French context, one can argue that the same is true of the burqa. Probably in the US context the perception would be different.

            I guess any society is entitled to impose certain modes of behaviour, and all societies do it. In that sense, I'm comfortable with the fact that wearing the Burka or more generally hiding one's face in public is forbidden. What I don't like at all, is that this law was passed in a spirit of stigmatization of the muslim community.

    •  The Irony is that the Algerians (0+ / 0-)

      Fought hard to get rid of colonial France only to themselves colonize Marsailles and Paris. I'm not surprised tge French are fidgety with these things.  

      A Catholic, Jew, Muslim and Buddhist walk into Al Aqsa Mosque. Buddhist immediately exclaims: "excuse me I appear to be in the wrong joke."

      by Salo on Sat Apr 16, 2011 at 07:10:08 AM PDT

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