Friday, January 15, 2010

The French and the full veil of Islam

France moves closer to banning full Muslim veil

There's a headine that'll catch the eye of all good constitutionalists in these United States of America. As one, my first reaction is that it wouldn't fly here and never will. We believe that one should be able to do as they please and dress any way they like. There is a part of our Bill of Rights that allows for the free practice of any religion, freedom of expression nd a right to privacy. We can do what we want in this country. . . well, we used to be able to at leat before the "Patriot Act" accompanying legislation and certain liberties taken by and taken away by the last administration (BTW, wasn't His "O"ness supposed to restore all that stuff?).

But hold on a minute. . . can we? Would I be allowed to enter a federal building or even a county courthouse if I were wearing a mask that completely hid my face? Could I walk into a bank? Get on an airplane?

The French law states "No one may, in spaces open to the public and on public streets, wear a garment or an accessory that has the effect of hiding the face. . ."

The French also say that such religious practices undermine the essence of what France is all about, which is secular and very much into gender equality. The French are so into religious freedom that they don't like public displays of religion that might undermine the secularist nature of their nation (ignore the Cathedral of Notre Dame. Too late ot change that). In other words, they don't want a bunch of religious fundamentalists running the government like we have had happening in this country and seen in the Middle East. I can understand their shying away from anything that might lead them down that path.

So in the end, I'm left wondering. . . where do I stand on this one? I don't think I've got enough information. My gut is to say "fuck no we won't make you wear anything you don't want to wear or not wear anything you want to wear."
But is there another side to this story? I like the French and often find their ideas and values closely aligned with my own. Maybe women covered from head to toe walking around in public is over the top and unacceptable to their standards and values. The bottom line is that it's their country and they can do what they want as long as they're not committing crimes against humanity. . . like SOME fucking countries I know have done the past 9 years!!

So what do you think?


The Original Wombman said...

I kind of vacillate on this issue too. I remember there was an uproar in Florida a few years back because a Muslim woman wanted to have her whole face covered in the picture (except for the eyes). Eventually, she won but my initial reaction to seeing the driver's license picture was that it was kind of ridiculous. A driver's license is supposed to serve as identification . . . but with the face covered, it kind of defeats the purpose. I think France is justified in a way. If one feels called to cover their whole face by God, I won't query them. But I think you have to also understand that this it will definitely be something that will set you apart from rest of society in a very serious way. As a teacher, even, the children often need to see my expressions and such--if my face is completely covered at work, it brings up issues. So I don't know. I think traditions need to evolve to suit the current world. That's not to say that people should completely abandon traditions but the world is what it is now.

SagaciousHillbilly said...

Thanks for the perspective Wombman.
I'm also thinking that maybe if you want to cover your whole face, thats fine, but there are certain activities that you will not be allowed to partake. . . like driving a car, licensed hunting or fishing, entering a bank, flying on an airplane.