Sunday, September 22, 2013

Nabila Ramdani: Don't follow France's burqa ban. It has curbed liberty and justice

The Observer/Guardian
September 21, 2013.

There's a sorry parade of women being fined for wearing the veil – and the people who attack them
Those calling for a veil ban in Britain have clearly ignored such depressingly routine cases. They do not realise how the legislation introduced by President Nicolas Sarkozy's government has not only stigmatised Muslim women, but somehow legitimised physical attacks on them. The ban in France is a hateful assault on basic freedoms, one that has been seized on by an unlikely alliance of rightwing politicians and feminists. 
The myth around which France's burqa ban was formulated is hugely offensive. It suggests that a cartel of faceless bogeywomen dressed in medieval black personify an alien religion, one whose values threaten those of the secular French republic and, by implication, those of all civilised nation states. There is no evidence for such a deceit. Just as no one in Britain can produce a veiled woman in the National Health Service who has unsettled patients, or teacher who refuses to take off her niqab in front of children when asked, so there is not a single French Muslim who deserves to be criminalised for covering up in public.

The reality is that the vast majority of niqab-wearers can be as sensibly pragmatic as anyone else when it comes to dealing with day-to-day objections to their face covering. If it upsets anyone reasonably, which usually means in an official context, they will remove it. Unreasonable objections, from louts in the street for example, should not be entertained under any circumstances.

Feminists who preach freedom for all women except for Muslims claim that their sisters are intimidated into wearing veils. In fact, of the 354 women "controlled" for covering up in the first year of the French ban, all said it was their own decision to do so. Men caught forcing women to wear veils face prison under the burqa ban, but such harassment was always covered by the criminal justice system anyway.

The truth is that it is mainly "patriotic" men who rally around the burqa ban, viewing it as a legitimate reason to persecute a religious minority.
Read the rest here.
Comment:  Excellent analysis that exposes the stupidity and patriarchal based violence against Muslim women who choose to wear the burqa/nikab.

It never ceases to amaze me how western folks often conflate freedom - particularly their notions of freedom - with the self-assumed duty to police the identity of Muslims in general and Muslim women in particular.

In effect, the crackdown on veiled Muslim women is nothing more than the violent extension of the war on Islam and Muslims.

And like in most wars, the bodies of women are a central feature and focus of the violence.

South Africa may be what I call a delusional post-colonial society but at the very least our laws do not govern what any woman can and can't wear in the observance of her religious beliefs.

This of course does not mean we do not have the usual bigot chorus who have joined the west in the war on the bodies of Muslim women.


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