Hello readers. I hope you all had a great weekend. This week Soulful Sunday post will focus on the religious happenings in France. That’s right, the Islamic veil ban. I’m not French, never been there. I’m not Muslim either. But I figured it would be interesting to give both sides of the story and see what you guys had to say on the matter. Enjoy!
As of two weeks ago, France officially became the first country to ban face masking Islamic head scarves in public places. According to the new law, women can’t wear burqas or niqabs when out in public. Any women who violates this law will face the penalty of being fined 150 euros (216 U.S. dollars) or lessons on French citizenship.
Despite the possibility of fines and citizenship lessons, many Islamic women have purposely been defying the law. According to the Associated Press, several women in burqas appeared outside of Notre Dame Cathedral. Two women were arrested for participating in an unauthorized protest. It has been estimated that about 60 women were arrested in unrelated instances of defiance since the ban was enacted.
Many Islamic women in France feel that they are being denied the right to practice religious freedom. Although the Quran does not expressly require women to wear veils, many do as an expression of their faith. In addition to this, other tradition garb haven’t been banned. If Islamic women are still allowed to wear hijabs and chadors, why can’t they wear burqas or niqabs?
There is much speculation surrounding the reasoning for the ban. French lawmakers claim the ban was enacted to protect French culture and national identity from dual identity immigrants. In addition, many feel the ban liberates Islamic women from being culturally forced to wear the veils. Although many people agree the French government has the right to govern how they please, many do not find these reasons valid. They feel that the ban isn’t liberating Islamic women, but restraining them. As mentioned earlier, Islamic women are not forced to wear the veil for religious reasons. However, many women choose to. In addition to this, many people feel that banning tradition clothing to protect France’s cultural identity promotes prejudice and assimilation to a culture other than their own. These people feel that the French are forcing Islamic women to choose the ideals, values and French culture over their own.
In addition to preserving French culture and liberating women, it is believed that the ban on burqas and niqabs may help deter terrorism. Because burqas and niqabs hide the face of the wearer, the people around them are unable to know the wearer’s identity. Anyone could be hiding under the veil with a weapon or bomb and no one would know until it was too late. Critics of the ban say that this is promotes the idea of racial profiling and discrimination.
No matter what the reasoning behind the ban turns out to really be, many Islamic women in France feel torn. Although many feel the French government has the right to make laws to preserve and protect their culture, they also feel that they are being denied theirs. Some will defy the ban despite the penalties. Others will accept it.
What are your thoughts? Sound off!