France Gets Serious

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There’s a movement afoot to ban the burqa in Europe.  And it just scored another political point in France.  On July 13, the lower house in the French Parliament voted overwhelmingly to outlaw wearing burqas and niqabs in public.  But will this move help prevent terrorism or does it constitute oppression of religious freedom?

On the eve of Bastille Day, which marks the birth of the secular republic of France, the French National Assembly passed a bill to ban full face veils with 335 votes in favor of the bill and only one vote against it.  Members of Parliament from the Socialist, Green and Communist parties held a more pro-veil sentiment, desiring to limit the ban to public buildings.  But, under pressure from feminist groups that support the ban, these politicians chose to abstain rather than vote in opposition to the bill.

The text of the bill “forbids concealing one’s face in public,” and includes exceptions such as wearing medical bandages after surgery.  Women who violate the law will be subject to a fine of 150 euros or “citizenship classes” or both.  Men who force their wives to wear burqas or niqabs through threats, violence, coercion, abuse of power or abuse of authority will be subject to a fine of 30,000 euros and one year in jail.  The penalties are doubled for men who force minors to wear face veils.

Though the language of the bill is religion-neutral making no mention of Islam, burqas or niqabs, it is widely known that the bill is targeted at Islamic burqas (full body and face covering including a net over the eyes) and niqabs (full body and face covering with a slit for eyes to peer through).  Indeed, the bill is colloquially referred to as the “anti-burqa law.” The fact that the bill includes a penalty for men who coerce female family members to wear full face veils acknowledges the gender imbalance in those who adhere to the strict ideology requiring this dress code.  And, the fact that citizenship classes may be included in the penalty acknowledges that anti-western values are at issue.  The bill will go to the Senate for a vote in September, where it is expected to pass.  If it does, the bill allows a six month adjustment period for women to relinquish their full face veils without consequences.  It should be noted that under this law, wearing the Islamic hijab (headscarf) and chador (full body covering with face showing) will remain legal.

French President Sarkozy supports the ban to further the goal of maintaining France’s secular identity.  The bill is considered part of Sarkozy’s larger integration policy for disaffected immigrant communities.  Most Members of Parliament view this bill as a means to liberate women from male subjugation and make a statement for gender equality.  Feminist organizations in Europe agree.  Critics, however, insist that Sarkozy is merely using xenophobic tactics to pander to right-wing voters.  Socialist Members of Parliament argue that the bill is nothing more than discrimination against a minority group that retains different values from the mainstream French population.

In fact, only approximately 2000 women of the 5 million Muslims in France wear full face veils.  So what’s the all the fuss?

Though worldwide there have been some incidents of men dressing as women in burqas and acting as suicide bombers, few believe that a burqa ban will serve as a direct link to terrorism prevention.  Rather, proponents of the bill believe that the burqa constitutes an anti-assimilation statement rejecting both integration and western values.  Burqas serve as a gateway for extremist activity in other areas, increasing the imbalance of power between men and women, between Muslims and non-Muslims, and some argue that in many communities it has been followed by an increase in violence.  In the year 2000, a mere 200 women wore the face veil in France.  Since then, it has increased ten-fold.  If left unchecked, the number will continue to grow.

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  • BS77

    too little too late

  • ObamaYoMoma

    “In making one’s determination, it’s important to understand that the issue goes much deeper than merely terrorism prevention or clothing restrictions for a small minority.”

    Can the writer please document this “small minority” assertion? If the freedom of conscience in Islam is forbidden and also very strictly enforced, then how can the writer make such a naïve assertion? Obviously, the writer is assuming that Islam is just like other religions. However, it is not. Islam in stark contrast to other religions is a religion of submission.

    The reality is Islam besides being a religion is also a very radical form of totalitarianism that seeks world domination like communism, and banning burqas and niqabs isn’t nearly enough to stop the Islamization of Europe.

    During the Cold War we didn’t let millions of communists immigrate and infiltrate into our countries because that would have been suicidal. Hence, we shouldn’t let millions of Muslims immigrate and infiltrate our countries today because it is likewise suicidal.

    Therefore, there is only one solution and it is the same one Geert Wilders’ advocates, that is ban Muslim immigration and show the door to the ones who refuse to assimilate and integrate. Along with banning Muslim immigration, mosques and madrassas will also have to be shut down.

  • Yorin

    I am sorry Deborah but this is just a smoke screen. On June 23rd, Members of Parliament from President Sarkozy's party voted against the ban at the European Council.

    This law is only a joke.

  • JasonPappas

    Europe may have greater success opposing Islam by fighting for secularism. They have a greater problem to start with but we should watch their experiment.

    Don't write Europe off!

  • bpaolucci

    No one should be allowed to have their face covered in public in this day and age. its a matter of being able to identify criminals in the act of commiting their crimes and victims as well. We spend our tax dollars setting up cameras for this very purpose –

    Obviously, this is a women's rights issue as well. But, as a woman, I say that is secondary to public safety.

    Europe, like America should stop importing people from countries that do not like us – it would certainly lower the risk of terrorist attacks.

  • lovezion

    NOT SERIOUS ENOUGH I GUESS! Shalom! It seems SLOWLY Europe is waking up to face evil islam breeding within their own countries. And yet….the wearing of those shmates they say "…will remain legal"!!! What, are they mental retards??? "Many other countries are contemplating burqa bans" Europeans are so stupid and coward that they can't, alone, be the first to take the right steps? They only follow if ONE is brave enough to be the FIRST and do it alone! Ha! Aza goisher kops!

  • andre_canuck

    I wonder whether the ban would also help deal with this type of crime which took place recently in Toronto during the G20 summit.

  • BS77

    France has admitted the Trojan Horse . Now they are regretting their stupidity…..but are unable to do much but argue about shrouds and head coverings. Pathetic!
    In the US, bend over backwards liberals are approving a mosque at Ground Zero…is there hope for the West? PC multicult mega tolerance and liberal leftist immigration policies have had a great impact on the demographics….England, France, Spain, the US… what to do? Blubber and whine…this is the liberal response.

  • boogrit

    Treating a symptom. In the US, where Islamofascism is still weak, no one cares about women wearing body bags In aul, no one will directly confront the Jihaddist fifth column in the country For those who refuse to acculturate, let there be separation, like the Amish, or expulsion – like the Czech Volksdeutch.

  • tanstaafl

    Just say no to slave clothing.

  • flaedo

    Sarkozy is slippery, he will offer the muslims 'sweeteners' to accept the berka ban, dont be fooled. The French government are appeasers and enablers. There are many in France who oppose islam and the destruction of native French culture but they are marginalised and hounded, just as they are marginalised and hounded everywhere else. The EDL demonstration in Dudley last weekend is instructive, the EDL were hindered and assaulted by both the police and large groups of muslims. The police allowed the muslim gangs free reign to attack EDL supporters. There were no mainstream media reports about what went on in Dudley. This leads one to infer theres a government ordered media blackout. This is a draconian state of affairs and it appears to be heading that way in other countries. lts time for those of us who oppose islam to get serious.

  • flaedo

    more to the point forget pc and 'niceness' – say no to islam.
    its time to send them back to their own cultures where undoubtedly theyll be more at home.

  • BS77

    Once upon a time a poisonous snake entered the home of a liberal. "I am cold and hungry…can I come in and warm myself?" The snake asked. The liberal said, oh, of course, make yourself at home, Mr. Snake." The liberal gave the snake food and wine, and a blanket to keep him warm. The liberal was walking by the snake when the snake suddenly lunged out and bit the liberal. The poison acted immediately….and as the liberal fell to the floor, he gasped, "I was being so nice to you…why on earth did you do that?" The snake calmly replied…"Because this is what I am."

  • zed

    Only 2000 women wear the burka in France ? Oh no. I am sorry to say, dear, you are ill informed. Burqas and niquabs everywhere. The French (and of course, perfectly integrated immigrants,) are fed up. Also those women get EU 200 a month to wear that gear, do you know that ? Courtesy of wahabist countries. Furthermore: a wonderful maire in a bus with school kids and mothers. Once in the bus, some mothers remove their hijab, and he asks why, and they say « to live in peace, otherwise I'll be insulted ». Somme French women dare NOT wearing a skirt anymore or wearing lipstick. It goes on and on and on. It is a culturel genocide ! I mean it !Sometimes I just want to cry. And I do sometimes, I do. Although I have a very happy nature, truely…
    And Yorin is RIGHT: « July 22, 2010 at 11:23 am
    I am sorry Deborah but this is just a smoke screen. On June 23rd, Members of Parliament from President Sarkozy's party voted against the ban at the European Council. ». THIS IS THE TRUTH. Please, do not blinf yourself and swallow the propaganda. Furthermore the islamists use the technique of gnawing, making us to concede one little thing then another one and on and on. Put in a finger, they will take your arm then you whole body!
    And even if that law is in vigor, if the cops fine a woman for that utterly ridiculous ugly attire (and by the way NO NEED FOR A LAW because there is a law that says facial covering is allowed ONLY on carnaval day, one a year!!!) , the mob will call their « pals » via their cell phones, and agress the police. It has been for a while now. They ambush the police, they attack the ambulances, the firemen… Borderline civil war ! Recent events confirm it, the country is on the edge of a civil war. I am overseas but I am terrified for my family and the people I love, and for my fellow French men.
    PLEASE DO NOT LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOUR BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY ! PLEASE ! I do not live in the US, but I love the US, don't ever let this happen to you, ever !
    From my heart !

  • flaedo

    Sarkosy is the snake BS77. He has done a deal with the so called moderate muslims – the one the Turkish Erdogan says do not exist, if the muslims will accept the burka ban they will get plenty in return. lts a win for the muslims and a win for Sakosy, only the French people will lose – but they dont matter any more. There is no French culture or French people, there are no borders, there is just the ever increasing muslim presence that dictates the new country – the one that is replacing France.