Women protest as French Cabinet gets veil ban bill

As some or many of you may know, the French Cabinet has recently introduced a Bill that has created an offence by "inciting to hide the face". This law is targeting the wearing of veils by women of the Muslim faith. A similar veil ban is in the works in neighboring Belgium.


What do you guys think? Is the wearing of a veil an affront to gender equality and undermining the nation's secular foundations by bringing religion into
the streets? I mean I hate the double standards associated with religious freedom but is this a case of the basic freedom of wearing what you want, being a Muslim women or not? Playing devils advocate, is it any different from saying you can not wear jeans?

Looking forward to your points.

Cheers
Mecca

Views: 7

Tags: Muslim, veil

Comment by Gaytor on May 19, 2010 at 5:26pm
I've been batting this one back and forth in my head. Is it freedom of expression, or is it unrecognized oppression that keeps it this way? In the US we outlawed bigamy for a similar reason, being oppression of women whether they recognized it or not. I find myself leaning towards the idea that it's clearly oppression. That being my feeling on it, I am also leaning towards it being a greater evil to allow the coercion by a group that sees women as "less than" versus stepping on one's religious freedom. I think that the religious freedom has to take a back seat to the rights of others whom are being repressed.
Comment by Mario Rodgers on May 19, 2010 at 6:15pm
The sad thing is that the women are actually buying into this culture of remaining hidden. I don't know if it's choice or brainwashing. I guess it's like the women who are okay with being part of a polygamy cult.
Comment by Andrew Wilson on May 19, 2010 at 6:16pm
Certain shopping centres in the UK don't allow anyone into the shopping centre with a "hoodie" as their face can't be seen on camera. No one really complained about that.

Allowing people to wear what they want has it's limits. If I walked down the road naked I would be arrested and rightly so as people don't want to see that.

Wearing something that hides the face, particularly the eyes, means that we cannot read their facial expression but they can read ours. I think most people would agree that is, at best, unsociable and possibly even unacceptable.
Comment by Cynical Soldier on May 19, 2010 at 6:42pm
It's cool. It pisses of the Muslims and that makes me happy. France might need to watch out for fanatical crazies, however.
Comment by Mecca on May 19, 2010 at 7:06pm
Yeah, I see myself buying into Gaytor's lesser of two evils argument.

Mario: also a very good point. Really do not know if it is choice or just fear/brainwashing.
Comment by Shawn P. on May 20, 2010 at 12:35am
I heard a response to this on NPR where one Muslim French resident said "I just won't let my wife out out of the house!."
Comment by Peter Price on May 20, 2010 at 12:24pm
I think the French are completely right in banning the veil...
I'm not racist, and I wouldn't walk up to a muslim and insult them for no reason... but they come to western Europe and expect the country to start obeying the sharia law, etc... but go to Saudi Arabia, and they will check your luggage for crucifixes etc, and if they find one, they'll pick it up with a STICK and put it in the bin; and if women there don't wear "appropriate" clothing, they get attacked by the muslim women... so we have been more than fair by letting them come to Europe with Qu'rans/Korans AND supplying them with Halal meat...
Also in France, you are not allowed ANY religious symbols in schools, including crucifixes, to stop "offending" people - so why should they be allowed a veil?!
Also, (not in France - but in Europe and tourist areas in muslim countries) their have been terrorist attacks by men dressing like women before blowing themselves up - so there is always the safety issue... but as Cynical Soldier said, they better watch out for extremists...

Still, i hope the rest of Europe follows the French in this decision... Belgium has...
Comment by Shine on May 21, 2010 at 2:14pm
I am still reserving judgment on this issue. On the one hand, the thought of regulating the clothing that an individual can wear strikes me as contradictory to a free society. But on the other hand, I do see the obstruction of an individual's face as posing a potential security threat. A free society is predicated upon transparency, both of the government and the populace itself. In our extensive, anonymous societies, facial features are one of the easiest ways to identify others; obscuring the face could easily allow fugitives to pass freely through society. Plus, our faces are a primary source of non-verbal communication and social cohesion is hurt when communication is hindered.

In the home or on private property, I think that people should be free to wear as little or as much clothing as they desire. In public, however, I think that it is completely acceptable to dictate that everyone adhere to certain standards of dress. As we socially deem that it is inappropriate for individuals to appear naked in public, we can also deem that it is inappropriate to appear completely obscured.

I really don't even think that the religious implications need to factor into the debate; I think that it ca be restricted to a case of individual rights balancing against communal rights. The communal right to safety, security, and transparency in the public sphere trumps the individual right to choose one's clothing while participating in the public sphere.
Comment by Shine on May 21, 2010 at 2:16pm
Yikes, I started out by saying that I was reserving judgment and then I ended with a clear decision. Oops; I guess I'm not so good at reserving judgment, contrary to my own intentions.
Comment by Mecca on May 21, 2010 at 6:15pm
The strange thing is that many of the women actually "want" to wear it. So my question is, are they so oppressed to the point that they are just saying that, or do they actually truly wish to wear it because "god" wants them?

@Shine: you mention balancing individual rights against communal rights and religious considerations do not factor in this debate. Interestingly, I just read this article on something exactly on topic - a Chinese lecturer has been sentenced to 3 years jail for organising private orgies! No religious stuff going on there, just thought this case fit your description nicely!

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