Monday, April 11, 2011

France enforces burqa ban

In yet another sign that Europeans are increasingly afraid of “the Muslim threat”, France has started to enforce its ban on the burqa (niqab). It is the only European country to do so but it may soon be followed by other countries.

burqa-woman-arrestedThe parallels with the Swiss ban on minarets is evident: same widespread support, same symbolism. For starters, only a small minority, i.e., 2000 women of France’s 5 million Muslims wear it, and seemingly only in high-immigration neighbourhoods. This causes some to see this law as a measure against the country’s second religion.

In today’s protests, about 9 casually dressed people and 3 women in niqabs appeared in front of Notre Dame in Paris, surrounded by much larger crowds of police, tourists and journalists.

One of the veiled women was seen being taken away in a police van. A police officer on the site told The Associated Press that she was detained because the protest was not authorized and the woman refused to disperse when police asked her to. The officer was not authorized to be publicly named. The Paris police administration said another woman was also detained for taking part in the unauthorized demonstration.It was unclear whether the women were fined for wearing a veil. The law says veiled women risk a $205 Cdn fine or special citizenship classes, though not jail. People who force women to don a veil are subject to up to a year in prison and a $41,000 fine, and possibly twice that if the veiled person is a minor. (..) in many cases the women are young, French-born daughters of immigrants who have a "spiritual reawakening" and become more religious than their family, wearing the veil as an identity statement — often over the objections of their parents.

There are some obvious points in favour of such a law:

  1. Being so fully covered results in significant Vitamin D deficiency for these women. Here’s how burqa is worn in the Muslim world, according to relijournal:

    Burqa falls under the category of Hijab. This is a Arabic word which means to veil or cover and refers to a women’s head and body covering gear. In Saudi Arabia, women a loose robe called abaya and a face veil called niqab while in nations like Tunisia or Turkey, Muslim women tend to wear only a headscarf. In Iran, they take a step further and the “fashion police” mandate all women to wear loose clothing – preferably black or a while robe – when going out and women are also supposed to wear either a full face veil or scarf. If the dress code is not followed, it results in punishment. In order to accommodate to the modern word, Islamic teachers allow women to wear a “Burqini.” A Burqini is a swimsuit for women and it covers the entire body. The only exposed parts are the feet, fingers and the face. Chador is also a full body cover for women. One of the extremes of Burqa is the Afghan Burqa, which was enforced by Taliban. This burqa covers the entire body in a loose clothing and even the face (including eyes) are covered with only a grille for the women to look through.

  2. Some Muslim scholars do not consider it mandated by Quran:

    First of all, it depends on which Islamic scholar you ask. They are all in disagreement as to what extend Quran advocates this. However, the Quran does urge men and women to dress and behave modestly in society. The Quran does not specifically mention the Burqa or tells women to wear such extremely confining clothes. The Ulema or the Scholars do agree that the Quran says women should not wear extremely revealing clothes. Modern day muslims base their authority regarding the Burqa on the Hadith or collected traditions of life in the days of Muhammad the prophet. But a noteworthy objection is that Hadith describes 7th century Arabian life, which should not be imposed on modern day Muslims world wide. Muslim communities also argue that women are to dress modestly but should not be forced or punished to wear a Burqa.

  3. The French have had some experience with veiled terrorists. Paris goes periodically through “security scares” and everytime I visited there was nowhere to place garbage on the street, as all such designated “holes” had been sealed and covered. Even newer movies on the subject of Algerian independence encounter resistance. Kennedy recognized Algeria’s independence.

What I find interesting is that France is not the first to ban burqa. It was banned by an Italian town and right here in Canada Quebec was the first to pull this off. Here’s what Worthington wrote in Toronto Sun over a year ago in defence of the Quebec ban:

Unlike “English” Canada, Quebec has never doubted its own identity, and has led the rest of the country in culture, music, the arts, even politics (where it can be a real nuisance). By banning the niqab and burqa (the veil with eye slits and the full head covering with latticed mask) for any provincial employee, and anyone dealing with government services, Quebec is setting an example for the rest of the country. A majority of Canadians likely endorse Quebec’s decision (Bill 94). Some will call it racist, unfair and even unCanadian to ban face coverings for women and feel it should be a matter of individual choice. While worthy of debate and discussion, what the new Quebec law is not, is racist. Rather, it is an effort to promote or enhance racial and gender equality. That so few Muslim women in Quebec wear the niqab or burqa — we are told only a couple of dozen go along with the custom — makes the new law even more appropriate. It will cause no widespread disarray or discomfort. Put bluntly, having to do business with someone who refuses to have their face seen, is offensive and demeaning — to both parties. Ours is a society that prides itself on face-to-face dealings, where both parties can size one another up, establish a rapport or, in some cases, a disconnect.

(..) The Muslim Canadian Congress wants the niqab and burqa banned for all the right reasons — symbols of oppression, inequality, subservience, etc. — and that they “marginalize women.” Excluded was the hijab. For what it’s worth, the origins of the niqab are unclear — probably dating back to pre-Islam Persia, and adapted mostly by Bedouin. Tunisia has banned the niqab, as has Turkey in government offices and schools. Saudi Arabia enforces it only in the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. In Dubai, an ambassador had his marriage annulled when he discovered his bride, who wore a burqa, was cross-eyed and had facial hair. In Florida, one Sultaana Freeman who was born Sandra Keller and converted to Islam, wanted her driver’s licence photo in a veil, but compromised if a woman took a barefaced photo of her in a closed room.


Hail Quebec!

The event was covered by a number of organizations, such as RT, binLaden, Times, CBS, TYT, NTDTV, Reuters. Still, I’m not sure this is an issue of interest to Torontonians. We might rejoice however, knowing that now parking tickets can be contested by email.

Sources / More info: wiki-burqa, wiki-niqab, cbc-burqa, relj-burqa, tst-revwoman, tsn-que,

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for commenting and please be assured that any and all comments are welcome, whether positive or negative, constructive or distructive.
We are using Disqus for commenting, but Blogger is not showing it so your comments may end up not being displayed - tell Google about it!