Burka Ban in France – a Political Smokescreen ??

There has been much media noise around the ban on the Niqab in France that came into play this week. There are very passionate arguments on both sides – at the bottom are a selection of comments taken from the BBC website – all of whom make good points.

Being married to a Frenchman I know a thing or two about France.

On the downside – their levels of bureaucracy and “jobs worthness” surpass any I have experienced in the world. Their superiority is also pretty annoying – but I guess the same could be said about us. They can speak English but they pretend they can’t.

On the plus side – they stand up for themselves. They strike if they don’t like things. They like being part of Europe but they put France first – there could be a lesson in that for us Brits. They make great wine! And they have a strong secular society that they fought for (including killing off their royal family!).

So whilst they are now banning the Niqab and Burqa – which are the ones that cover the face, they are not banning the Hijab – which covers the head but not the face, so lets be clear – they are not banning Islam – just what they see as extremism in any form. It should be remembered that they also already banned the wearing of large crosses or other overtly religious “in your face” stuff.

They are a secular society, people,
– they don’t like any overt shows of religion – from whatever quarters.

But there are 2 points to bear in mind here – firstly the cross wearers don’t make as much of a fuss – but it is just as fair or unfair to them (depending on your point of view).
Secondly – to my knowledge, the police DON’T actually arrest people who wear a visible cross.
My guess would be that they will pretty much ignore this latest addition to their job role also.

So – what’s it all about?

My opinion – and it is only my opinion – put together one VERY unpopular President with an issue that many people in France do feel strongly about – and perhaps 2 + 2 might make people forget what a low poularity poll rating Sarkozy has when they next have to vote?

Call me cynical….

In my opinion, the law appears to be against individual liberties. I am a Muslim but I don’t wear a head scarf as I think it’s not faithful to my principles. However, this ban will certainly stigmatise Islam. This practice concerns a small number of Muslim women in France and in that way it appears extreme and unfair, because these women will tend to be confined at home most of the time. The consequences will be socially disastrous. Through this law you can see that Islam in France is perceived as a threat to French values and society. Sabrina, Lille, France

As a Muslim living in Paris, I’m so glad that this new law is here, for there has been a growing problem for some time now in Paris, with the radicalisation of young Muslims. Some of the more extreme Muslims have begun to use dress as a symbol or statement against French society. I feel that the extreme example of the Muslim faith works against all that Muslims in France stand for. That is, that we can live in harmony side by side with other religions and faiths. Jean Paul Baptiste, Paris, France

At last a law that protects the dignity and the human rights of women. This is not a racist law, it is a brave and progressive law that aims to put an end to the scandalous persecution of women in the Muslim community. I am not Sarkozy’s biggest fan and I wish someone else was leading my country, but I support this law 100% as the plight of women having to wear this garment around the world really saddens me. Rachel Sword, Aix en Provence, France

I agree with this law. The women who walk around in public in the burqa, cause feelings of both fear, and pity. I have often heard that these women complain of being totally ignored by those around them – hardly surprising, really. Hiding your identity causes others to become wary and suspicious. Fiona Ricard, Gailhan, France

Despite being a human rights lawyer, I have mixed feelings about the law. Freedom of religion dictates that people should be able to manifest their faith how they wish, though it can be restricted by the state if there are strong reasons and it is proportionate. I think it should not be banned outright and that it is excessive, but it should perhaps be restricted in the case of employment or other areas of society. Whilst the state has to respect the diverse values of its population, immigrants also have to respect the values of the society they have chosen to live in – and France is a secular state. Andy, Strasbourg, France