Green Room

Sarko Success: French Parliament Passes Burqa Ban

posted at 9:13 pm on September 14, 2010 by

In a 2009 joint session of French parliament, President Nicolas Sarkozy unequivocally denounced the burqa:

The issue of the burqa is not a religious issue, it is a question of freedom and of women’s dignity.  The burqa is not a religious sign, it is a sign of the subjugation, of the submission of women. I want to say solemnly that it will not be welcome on our territory.

Parliament agreed.  The measure passed the lower house in July and yesterday, in a 247-1 vote, the Senate effectively banned the burqa in public life pending Sarkozy’s signature.  The Globe and Mail reports:

The measure would outlaw face-covering veils in streets, including those worn by tourists from the Middle East and elsewhere. It is aimed at ensuring gender equality, women’s dignity and security, as well as upholding France’s secular values — and its way of life.  [...]

The bill calls for 150 euro fines or citizenship classes for any woman caught covering her face, or both. It also carries stiff penalties for anyone such as husbands or brothers convicted of forcing the veil on a woman. The 30,000 euro fine and year in prison are doubled if the victim is a minor.

Perhaps unsurprising for a country whose national identity is fundamentally wedded to its culture (“Minister of Culture” is a cabinet-level position), France has decided to do what few other countries have done in pushing back against encroaching Islamization.

The ban is equally unsurprising given the nation’s strict commitment to secularism. France has a long history of regulating religion, most recent being the 2004 ban of  “conspicuous religious symbols” in French schools, including yarmulkes and crucifixes. Naturally, the ban was criticized by many as an intrusion by the state into religious life. Should our response be different now?  Aren’t all religions and related symbols “created equal?”

In a word, no.  Islam is both a religion and a comprehensive socio-political, militaristic system, distinguishing it from all other major faiths.  A chief aim, as we know, includes terraforming the political and judicial landscape toward its own ends, bringing all into conformity, enforced by Sharia law. Consequently, the burqa can never remain a private act of devotion.  It is perhaps the definitive manifestation of Islam’s goal of dominating public life.

Sarkozy clarified that the elimination of face-coverings was not intended to stigmatize Muslims and urged that the religion be treated with equal respect as others.  Predictably, critics have called the ban Islamophobic.  But is this religious discrimination or even xenophobia as some are claiming?  Or, a necessary step to preserve French culture and assimilate the burgeoning Muslim population?

While the French might still consider the faith to be similar to other religions and prefer it neatly tucked away in the private sphere, global Islam begs to differ.  The response should be…interesting.

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Borders, Language, Culture….

Felonious Monk on September 14, 2010 at 9:35 PM

France has a long history of religious intolerance and violence as well as an unwarranted belief in its superiority.
People should be required to present proof of their identity when appropriate and face-covering can compromise that. Otherwise, what a person wears is not the business of the government, even in France.

audiculous on September 14, 2010 at 9:37 PM

You can be damned sure that if women were dressed in head scarves, fully covered their bodies in long, loose garments and professed to be brides of Christ, the French government wouldn’t say a thing about it.

audiculous on September 14, 2010 at 9:41 PM

Consequently, the burqa could never be a private act of devotion. It is perhaps the definitive manifestation of Islam’s goal of dominating public life.

Exactly. Good piece, Diane. :) France is a lot tougher than they’re ever given credit for.

jimmy the notable on September 14, 2010 at 9:46 PM

On one hand, I dig France doing this. On the other, I would not support his in America. As Allah would say, “nuance“.

JCred on September 14, 2010 at 9:52 PM

France has a long history of religious intolerance and violence…
audiculous on September 14, 2010 at 9:37 PM

I mentioned their strident secularism.

jimmy the notable on September 14, 2010 at 9:46 PM

Thanks.
Regarding French might, see: French Military Victories.

Bee on September 14, 2010 at 9:57 PM

Regarding French might, see: French Military Victories.

Bee on September 14, 2010 at 9:57 PM

Ha! I completely fell for it.

jimmy the notable on September 14, 2010 at 10:01 PM

sorry, Bee, but “strident secularism” doesn’t quite cover the point. What does secularism have to do with religious warfare and persecution of religious minorities and religiously-based intolerance?

audiculous on September 14, 2010 at 10:18 PM

audiculous on September 14, 2010 at 10:18 PM

It’ll have to suffice given I don’t have time to re-fight the French revolution nor revisit the Dreyfus debacle, amongst others. :)

I’m not disputing historical abuses. But given current French demographics, banning a total body (specifically the face) covering which represents subjugation and further inhibits assimilation into French culture seems a difficult but necessary choice.

Bee on September 14, 2010 at 10:39 PM

Ha! I completely fell for it.

jimmy the notable on September 14, 2010 at 10:01 PM

Me too.

JCred on September 15, 2010 at 1:59 AM

This thirst for visibility is translated into increasingly provocative forms of hijab, notably the niqab (mask) and the burqa. The same quest mobilized hundreds of Muslims in Paris the other day to close a whole street so that they could have a Ramadan prayer in the middle of the rush hour.

One of those taking part in the demonstration told French radio that the aim was to “show we are here.” “You used to be in our capitals for centuries,” he said. “Now, it is our turn to be in the heart of your cities.”

Before deciding whether to support or oppose the “Cordoba” project, New Yorkers should consider what it is that they would be buying.

http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/islam_center_eerie_echo_of_ancient_iRTMW6TprkULnaA1Nqi9xM

macncheez on September 15, 2010 at 5:26 AM

You can be damned sure that if women were dressed in head scarves, fully covered their bodies in long, loose garments and professed to be brides of Christ, the French government wouldn’t say a thing about it.

audiculous on September 14, 2010 at 9:41 PM

I’m not sure how that squares with the laws on what can be worn in their public schools.

As to this ban, I support it. This isn’t even a religious issue. Muslim women are not at all required to wear a burka by their religion. That’s purely cultural and aimed at subjugating women, and allowing people to cover their entire bodies and be unidentifiable poses a risk to society as well.

Esthier on September 15, 2010 at 10:59 AM

Esthier: France can do what they want.

But the government should never be given the power to dictate what someone can wear. Now, the fact that most of these women aren’t being given the choice to NOT wear it does muddy the water, but banning it isn’t the answer.

Scott H on September 15, 2010 at 4:17 PM

France isn’t America. It’s not built on our Bill of Rights. If this is how they want to combat Islam, more power to them.

MadisonConservative on September 16, 2010 at 11:34 AM

Esthier on September 15, 2010 at 10:59 AM

Right. Not only subjugation, but the burqa is now being worn defiantly in Western nations to put a further wedge between cultures, thus the argument.

This is what they are dealing with:
http://www.jihadwatch.org/2010/09/paris-muslims-block-streets-for-prayers-police-afraid-to-intervene.html

Scott H on September 15, 2010 at 4:17 PM

Many nations have restrictions on face coverings for security. There are also public decency laws which put restrictions on dress (or lack thereof). The pertinent issue is religion. Should the state get involved?

MadisonConservative on September 16, 2010 at 11:34 AM

Agreed. But what if it were the US? What if the burqa was being worn as an act of defiance, even? Is it an issue of speech? Public safety? National security? Just working it out.

Bee on September 16, 2010 at 12:27 PM

But the government should never be given the power to dictate what someone can wear. Now, the fact that most of these women aren’t being given the choice to NOT wear it does muddy the water, but banning it isn’t the answer.

Scott H on September 15, 2010 at 4:17 PM

The government has power of what people don’t wear. There are obscenity laws. Additionally, the burka is both obscene and a public security risk considering the public has no idea what’s under the sack (could be anything – suicide bombs are obviously easier to hide as are guns and other weapons).

There are all sorts of restrictions on our lives in public places. We have no expectation of privacy or any of the intrusions that can bring. I don’t see how this is any different.

Esthier on September 16, 2010 at 4:10 PM

Bee on September 16, 2010 at 12:27 PM

That’s creepy. I’ve only seen burkas out in public when I went to England a few months ago. I felt nauseous the whole time they were walking by me (each time).

Esthier on September 16, 2010 at 4:13 PM

Agreed. But what if it were the US? What if the burqa was being worn as an act of defiance, even? Is it an issue of speech? Public safety? National security? Just working it out.

Bee on September 16, 2010 at 12:27 PM

I remember Madison commenting on this before and being against a burka ban here, though please correct me if I’m wrong Mad.

Personally, I don’t see why the government must allow people to walk around in public with their faces covered. It seems to be much more of a risk to society than being naked.

Esthier on September 16, 2010 at 4:17 PM

a risk to society

????????

audiculous on September 17, 2010 at 12:59 PM

audiculous on September 17, 2010 at 12:59 PM

Yes, actually.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/manchester/8665315.stm

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/west_midlands/7309548.stm

http://www.newser.com/story/97997/man-in-burqa-robs-bank.html

A man walks into a bank wearing a ski mask, and people take notice. Walk into one wearing a burka, and they won’t even know you’re carrying a gun until you pull it out.

Esthier on September 18, 2010 at 8:14 PM