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Thread: Banning the Burka?

  1. #1

    Default Banning the Burka?

    As you may have heard, Nicolas Sarkozy has been talking about banning the Burka in France.

    As with any subject connected to religion there is bound to be a great deal of controversy and sensitivity involved here, but it's also an interesting area to discuss and consider (though I'm inclined to think Sarkozy has only raised it as an attempt to distract from France's other issues by buying into fear and concern over immigration).

    Still, personally, I do have some sympathies with the people who speak out against burkas. From a strictly secular standpoint they can seem somewhat oppressive, a threat to the equality of women and tied to the idea of gender subservience. The idea of women so visibly separating and covering themselves as a cultural norm just doesn't sit well with me. However, I'm totally against the idea of a ban. I hear people saying that those who wear burkas are demonstrating a lack of willingness to integrate and it should not be allowed, but for me the mark of an enlightened society is the protection of the basic liberty of the individual, and we simply cannot and should not be saying to people 'this is what you can and can not wear'. Much as we may wish to protect or preserve what we see as the values of our societies we really cannot do that by undermining people's freedom of choice lest we become hypocrites. Essentially, attempting to enforce liberty by legislating against things that might be perceived as illiberal or unenlightened but are still personal choices isn't true liberation, and forcing the choices of minorities will only serve to hurt integration and community.

    Anyhoo, your thoughts?

  2. #2

    Default

    I'm essentially an anarchist, so I'm against laws telling people what they must do and what they cannot do. This applies to this case on both ends, as I believe people should be free to decide what they want to wear, without people telling them that they must wear it or that they cannot wear it.

  3. #3

    Default

    France has a long history of maltreating its muslim residents and citizens. The issue here though is also that France has a long and turbulent history concerning religion in the public sphere dating to the years and circumstances leading up to the French Revolution when the Roman Catholic Church, from the Pope to bishops to parish priests allied themselves with bourgeoisie and the crown. Then and since french government and french culture have regarded the issue of religion in the public sphere- in politics and public education for instance- as a symbol of oppression, as divisive, and anathema to "liberty, equality, and fraternity." Fraternity and equality in particular.

    It is also against public school rules to wear a crucifix in France. But christians don't require the wearing of a crucifix, and even those christians that insist on wearing them can easily conceal them. So while it is never enforced, even if it were it would not be comparable to banning the burka or similar garments (including a veil) which, sometimes, are required and cannot be concealed. That said, Sarkozy ran in part on an anti-immigrant and anti-Algerian-French citizen platforms. Earlier in his political career, he actually favored deportation of muslims and north Africans and stripping Algerian-Frech of their citizenship prior to deportation back to Algeria (hence everyone's surprise when he won the election: a country known, perhaps incorrectly, for being leftist elected the most right-leaning major party candidate). That would be the equivalent of the U.S. sending African-Americans back to Africa.The Algerians, and all muslim's in France, are a disenfranchised and mistreated (oppressed too strong a word?) minority suffering from disproportionate poverty, unemployment and living mostly in ghettos. The degree of focus leveled on the burka is both the French cultural aversion to religion and also the racism and ethnocentrism against muslims.

    While I'm not an expert on French politics and so won't draw conclusions regarding Sarkozy's real motivations, if, as he says, his concern is that the burka is a form of Islamic sexist oppression, then so much the better. But there are larger issues at stake, namely that many muslim women in France would willingly wear it absent coercion to do so. It would be better to ensure a social network that makes it possible for muslim women, and all women, to be able to not wear a burka should they choose to do so, leave their husbands, etc. in spite of the pressure and, in some cases, compulsion from within the women's communities. Something similar needs to be set up for children. That would protect women's rights and religous rights at the same time. Such a system would be dificult to effectively monitor and enforce, but, to my mind, it is superior to the violation of religous rights (and yet another symbol of Algerian and muslim marginalization) and better than doing nothing.

    An excellent film came out laster year about a muslim woman (and her husband and children) living in Britain in the 1980s. They were Bangladeshi. In terms of pressure in their own community, and also the racism they experience from some britons, is similar to the muslim situation in France.

  4. #4
    Darkfinn

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    Personally I think this is a wonderful idea. It honestly disturbs me to see women walking around the US wearing these. These garments represent many generations of tyranny and abuse of women... why anyone would move to the US and still wear one... knowing what your people did to us... is totally beyond me.

  5. #5

    Default

    Banning a piece of religious clothing goes against everything Liberal Democracy stands for. I pray that the United States would never consider a blanket ban like this.




    Quote Originally Posted by Darkfinn View Post
    Personally I think this is a wonderful idea. It honestly disturbs me to see women walking around the US wearing these. These garments represent many generations of tyranny and abuse of women... why anyone would move to the US and still wear one... knowing what your people did to us... is totally beyond me.
    At MSU I was walking down the sidewalk when I see a woman in full Islamic garb. I mean, full, black burqa (in the middle of summer), full face covering, even the eyes were covered in that mesh material. Then I saw the rollerblades. I stared (quite rudely, in retrospect) at her, mouth agape, as she rolled past.

    Only in America.

  6. #6

  7. #7
    EmeraldsAndLime

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    I'm all for this ban on the basis that France is defending their own culture and beliefs. No offence toward the UK, but when you constantly bend over and take it from a minority, you stand everything to lose in terms of your own national identity. Freedom of religion aside, it's seems to be happening all too often lately that Muslims pervade another country, then bitch and whinge they are being treated unjustly because the laws of that country don't coincide with their beliefs. NEWS FLASH - The world shouldn't have to always cater to a one group with different or radical religious beliefs. What the Muslims are doing is a the ultimate disrespect for other people, other people's culture and other people's national pride.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lukie View Post
    I'm all for this ban on the basis that France is defending their own culture and beliefs. No offence toward the UK, but when you constantly bend over and take it from a minority, you stand everything to lose in terms of your own national identity. Freedom of religion aside, it's seems to be happening all too often lately that Muslims pervade another country, then bitch and whinge they are being treated unjustly because the laws of that country don't coincide with their beliefs. NEWS FLASH - The world shouldn't have to always cater to a one group with different or radical religious beliefs. What the Muslims are doing is a the ultimate disrespect for other people, other people's culture and other people's national pride.
    How in the world is wearing a headscarf imposing Islamic culture?

  9. #9
    EmeraldsAndLime

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    Quote Originally Posted by sparkmaster View Post
    How in the world is wearing a headscarf imposing Islamic culture?
    I was talking in general, not relating to the banning of the burka in particular.

  10. #10
    aj1983

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    France has always been a bit anti-religion, viva la revoultion! :france:

    ...anyways, it's the 21st Century here in Europe, I don't see why women should have to go around hiding their entire faces. It's a symbol of oppression. I hardly ever see burkas here anyways, most just wear hijabs that don't cover their faces.

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