Sarko Success: French Parliament Passes Burqa Ban
posted at 9:13 pm on September 14, 2010 by Diane Suffern
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.