France takes initial steps to ban the Burqa

112 posts / 0 new
Last post
josh
France takes initial steps to ban the Burqa

"The issue of the burqa is not a religious issue, it is a question of freedom and of women's dignity," Mr. Sarkozy said. "The burqa is not a religious sign, it is a sign of the subjugation, of the submission of women."

"I want to say solemnly that it will not be welcome on our territory," he said to enthusiastic applause.

. . . .

Mr. Sarkozy noted that "In the republic, the Muslim religion must be respected like other religions."

But he declared that "the burqua is not welcome in France. We cannot accept in our country women imprisoned behind bars, cut off from social life, deprived of identity. That is not our idea of maintaining the dignity of women."

Mr. Sarkozy gave his public support to a cross-party initiative by close to 60 legislators, who proposed a parliamentary commission to review the burqa and methods to combat its spread.

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/23/world/europe/23france.html

Cueball Cueball's picture

Yup! Lets here it for women's liberation in the "secular democracies". Down with Iran, where they tell women what to wear!

Sven Sven's picture

Why Sarkozy bother with this?  I simply do not understand his comments.

_______________________________________

Eleutherophobics of the World...Unite!!!

josh

I don't approve of this proposal.  It's a violation of religious freedom, in my view.  However, while I can't speak for women, I would venture a guess that most would rather live in a society where they couldn't wear one rather than a society where they had to wear one.  Plus, the proposal apparently has the support of some women's groups and Muslim organizations.  But, as I said, it's a stupid proposal that violates basic religious freedoms.

theboxman

But I thought women in the west can wear whatever they want?

Cueball Cueball's picture

Look Josh is now an expert in women's fashion preferences, and what women would prefer to be forced to wear, of be forced not to wear.

martin dufresne

The Catholic press is pushing very hard for anti-Muslim legislation. Newspapers such as La Croix and Le Figaro publish increasingly agressive Op-Eds against any wearing outside of mosques - of any "ostentatious" sign of being a Muslim, e.g. veils, scarves... Don't kid yourselves, a lot more than the burka is targeted.

(Of course, we are way ahead of them, with our "security certificates" that allow us to jail Arabs indefinitely under secret accusations.)

Cueball Cueball's picture

Thank god we don't live in Iran.

Stockholm

This is starting to sound like Herouxville all over again. I wonder how many women in all of France would even wear a burqa if they could? Five? Six? in a country of 60 million.

500_Apples

Stockholm wrote:

This is starting to sound like Herouxville all over again. I wonder how many women in all of France would even wear a burqa if they could? Five? Six? in a country of 60 million.

Apply reason please. If only 5 or 6 women in France wore the Burqa they would not be bothering with this legislation and it would not be an issue.

martin dufresne

Indeed. The issue is Muslims' rights in France, whatever people wear, and these rights (access to the territory, citizenship, jobs, housing, school, justice, etc.) are being threatened in a big way, as in the Netherlands, using women's rights as an excuse. There is no way these governments can justify a costly war against Arab countries for oil and strategic positioning on its routes if there isn't a high enough level of paranoia being fueled at home.

al-Qa'bong

 

I listened to some of the callers on CFMJ's "The Stafford Show" today. They were talking about this, and were pretty well universally insisting that burka wearing was a gateway fashion statement leading to dynamite belts.

Erik Redburn

martin dufresne wrote:

Indeed. The issue is Muslims' rights in France, whatever people wear, and these rights (access to the territory, citizenship, jobs, housing, school, justice, etc.) are being threatened in a big way, as in the Netherlands, using women's rights as an excuse. There is no way these governments can justify a costly war against Arab countries for oil and strategic positioning on its routes if there isn't a high enough level of paranoia being fueled at home.

 

Most people are not as simple minded as you seem to think Martin, they can make the necessary distinctions if given a chance.  Women feeling they need to be covered head to toe probably is a sign of deeply patriarchal attitudes in societies that insist on them, but "banning" certain modes of dress in a supposedly "free" society, just because it "probably" represents something which rightwing jerks like Szarkosy are perfectly fine with within their own cultural mileu is almost certainly a sign of thinly veiled racism and a colonial attitudes....among the establishment and those who give them their trust blindly.

martin dufresne

Most people are not as simple minded as you seem to think Martin, they can make the necessary distinctions if given a chance.

I don't see what makes you think I disagree with that. But once that half a chance passes (e.g. the recent Bouchard-Taylord hearings in Quebec), the purveyors of simplifications and cpnspiracy fantasies go into high gear again and it's not just "rightwing jerks" that believe them, it's enough of the electorate to keep them in power.

 

Erik Redburn

Possibly, majorities can be stampeded given enough hype, ignorance and unrecognised racism, I see we're more or less in agreement on this then.  Bad enough France and Britain banned religious emblems in school, as if That is the root cause of any problems, but this is going way beyond the usual government intrusion into private affairs.  It's also openly aimed at one particular group now.

Stockholm

500_Apples wrote:

Stockholm wrote:

This is starting to sound like Herouxville all over again. I wonder how many women in all of France would even wear a burqa if they could? Five? Six? in a country of 60 million.

Apply reason please. If only 5 or 6 women in France wore the Burqa they would not be bothering with this legislation and it would not be an issue.

I am applying reason. Herouxville has never had a Muslim resident in its history and yet felt the need to pass bylaws against women wearing veils and against people being stoned to death etc... similarly the Dutch government tried to ban burqas as a way to get votes on the eve of elections even though several articles noted that there were literally ZERO women in the Netherlands who wore them in the first place. Its called GRANDSTANDING.

Cueball Cueball's picture

Erik Redburn wrote:

martin dufresne wrote:

Indeed. The issue is Muslims' rights in France, whatever people wear, and these rights (access to the territory, citizenship, jobs, housing, school, justice, etc.) are being threatened in a big way, as in the Netherlands, using women's rights as an excuse. There is no way these governments can justify a costly war against Arab countries for oil and strategic positioning on its routes if there isn't a high enough level of paranoia being fueled at home.

Women feeling they need to be covered head to toe probably is a sign of deeply patriarchal attitudes in societies that insist on them, but "banning" certain modes of dress in a supposedly "free" society, just because it "probably" represents something which rightwing jerks like Szarkosy are perfectly fine with...

...like deeply partriarchal attitudes in white French society, which socialize women into certain habits of dress, for example?

Erik Redburn

Oh up looking for another fight Cueball?  Sorry, but if you paid any attention to what I was saying here, I was agreeing on this one on principle, but hey, if you still can't see the difference between socially arrived at norms of dress, which of course vary widely, and being forced to cover oneself head to toe by the state in say that socialist paradise of Afghanistan, then you obviously have no ability to grasp the nuances of political discourse.  Oh oh, let me guess, you'll now point to this example as more Proof that there's really no different at All between us imperialistic Westerners and the poor misunderstood Islamicists.  Except of course "we" must take all the criticism no matter who is doing what to whom.  Very clever. 

Cueball Cueball's picture

Actually what I will do is point to what I want to point out, not what you think I will point out, though you seem fond of putting words in my mouth.

I do in fact see the differences between "socially arrived at forms of dress", and enforced dress codes. That is all well and fine. I agree with you that there are social norms that may express certain kinds of pariarchal constructs, which appear to be "freely chosen", but that are really about social conditioning. Specifically one might ask: What precisely is "patriarchal" about extremely "modest" clothing, as opposed to flesh exposing "immodest" clothing?

In a very simplified form we might say the following:

In the case of modest clothing in its patriarchal form is that "the socially arrived at form of dress", is an expression of the value that women should satisfy the desires of their menfolk that "their" women should be solely a sexual possession of their husband, and their sexuality should not be expressed openly for other males. In the case of immodest clothing, in its patriarchal form, "the soially arrived at form of dress", is that women should express the desires of men that they should be readily available sexual objects. 

You see, for me what is patriarchal about this, on either side of the equation, is that both revolve around the desires of men, and their relationship to women as sexual beings above and beyond their relationship to women as persons.

At the same time, neither is necessarily an expression of a patriarchal norm, but some times may be, and since you have mentioned this latent possibility within "socially arrived at forms of dress" we might as well take stab at undressing it. There are of course other reasons that Muslim people prefer modest forms of dress, and these are usually expressions of underlying precepts of being modest, and avoiding noticeably austentatious displays of wealth, and so on that make one stand out. This injunction applies to both men and to women.

I have a Muslim friend here, who does not wear Hijab or any kind of covering because she thinks it is unislamic to do so in a society where such dress would make her stand out. If she were in Morocco, where she is from, she would wear Hijab, for the same reason because that is the norm, and not wearing one would make her stand out.

That said there are also plenty of ways one can read patriarchal constructs into these dress codes, as I did further up in this post.

It seems to me that your statement, which correctly identified the underlying racism of Sarkosy's new policy initiatiive, latently reinforced the patriarchal "socially arrived" norm that women should wear less clothing by making special note of the fact that "feeling they need to be covered head to toe probably is a sign of deeply patriarchal attitudes in societies that insist on them" but not also identifying deeply patriarchal ideas that may be present in the opposite norm. Indeed, hidden patriarchal constructs may present themselves in the modest clothing worn by some religious Muslim women, but it is also true that "deeply patriarchal attitudes" may very well be latent in "socially arrived at forms of dress", where women feel compelled to dress immodestly.

Sarkosy, equates immodesty with "women's liberation" but, latently he is expressing not only a racist paradigm, but a sexist one, that asserts deeply patriarchal ideas that reinforce the "normalcy" of the idea that women should expose themselves openly as sexual objects, as defined by male desire.

I was simply drawing your attention to the fact that we too have deeply patriarchal constructs hidden within our social norms that are expressed in "socially arrived at forms of dress". Again, it is not whether a woman dresses immodestly or modestly, that defines the patriarchal nature of some "socially arrived at forms of dress", but the latent focus on women as sexual objects defined by mens desire, above and beyond their personhood.

At least that is the way I see it.

skarredmunkey

Quote:
"President Nicolas Sarkozy addressed Parliament on Monday, laying out a vision of France that included a withering critique of burqas as an unacceptable symbol of “enslavement.”"

Keep in mind that this is also from the same man that wants to stress the good side of French imperialism.

Ghislaine

This is ridiculous move on Sarkozy's part and an affront to religious freedom in France.

Stargazer

I stand square with Erik on this one. The the pile on begin...

Ghislaine

Stargazer wrote:

I stand square with Erik on this one. The the pile on begin...

I agree that the burqa is most likely a patriarchal instrument, however there are many, many things that are. One could argue (and Muslim women do) that high heels are instruments of patriarchy. Banning them serves no purpose and violates religious freedom. There are communities in Canada, where women wear only skirts - this patriarchal too.

What does France propose to do, start a burqa police squad to go around embarassing women? If you were raised to believe that God wanted you covered up it would be a pretty big deal. And the unintended consequence will be devout Muslim women in France not leaving the house...which would be an even worse situation.

Stargazer

Then the  answer is clear. The men who force women into thinking their bodies are shameful need to change. Not the women.

Ghislaine

Stargazer wrote:

Then the  answer is clear. The men who force women into thinking their bodies are shameful need to change. Not the women.

Yes, but there are women (including single women) who believe in the burqa and want to wear it. Shouldn't they have tha right in a free society?

Unionist

Ghislaine wrote:

 

Yes, but there are women (including single women) who believe in the burqa and want to wear it. Shouldn't they have tha right in a free society?

Of course they should.

It should be possible to uncompromisingly oppose restrictions or bans on clothing or symbols, while maintaining one's right to describe such things as burkas or high heels for what they are - instruments of male subjugation of women. The fact that some women "believe in and want to wear" such things doesn't change what they are. It merely shows how deep and dangerous patriarchy runs.

Québec, for example, legally eliminated the practice of women changing their surnames on marriage, back in 1980. It was done (of course) at the demand of women's organizations, as one of many steps aimed at emerging from under the shadow of religious, social, and political subjugation of women. Some (very few, mostly out-of-province) women lobby for the "right" to take their husband's name. Oddly, one hears no such protests in the opposite direction. I wonder why.

Sarkozy's move is obviously chauvinist and Islamophobic. I hope the people of France oppose it. But anyone who tries to tell me that the burka is a sign of self-expression will have no luck at my door as a salesperson. Show me a culture which binds or elevates men's feet and covers their faces, and I'll reconsider my view.

 

Ghislaine

Exactly - unionist. You expressed my feelings exactly.  Banning things always has unintended consequences as well - as it makes things more desirable.

Could you explain more what you are talking about re: changing one's name in marriage in Quebec? I know here, it is the woman's choice whether to take the name or not. I have friends who have done both. Personally I will be changing my name as I would like to have the same name as my kids and I like his name - however I think both of these options should be available. I also know of people who create a new last name to both take (this is what my brother plans to do when he marries a man).

thanks

i guess it's a question of what women want, but that is caught up in the many, very real, outside limits which could make their lives miserable either way.

men do help by critiquing/analyzing their own (Sarkozy's) behaviour here.

Unionist

Quote:

Both spouses keep their birth names after marriage and continue to exercise their civil rights under that name, i.e. they must use their birth name in contracts, on credit cards, on their driver’s licence, etc.

This rule applies to all spouses domiciled in Québec, even if they were married outside Québec.

However, women married before April 2, 1981 who were already using their husband’s surname before that date may continue to exercise their civil rights under their married name.

[url=Source.[/url]">http://www.justice.gouv.qc.ca/english/publications/generale/maria-a.htm#...

Quebeckers are not allowed to change their names at the drop of a hat. They must apply to the proper government authority and provide a good reason. You may find this extreme, but this is a society where women weren't allowed to serve on juries until 1970. Extreme measures were needed to ensure women's identities would no longer be buried and denied. We still have a long way to go.

As for women who like their husband's name, or want everyone in the family to have the same name - that's a price that Quebeckers have paid to make steps toward equality. If you can give me a few examples of men who like their female partner's surname and have adopted it for the sake of the kids, I'll be more than impressed. In the meantime, pardon me for seeing this as a rather huge vestige of the subordination of women. Our cultures make it impossible to even trace matrilineal heritage in family trees.

thanks

"Our cultures make it impossible to even trace matrilineal heritage in family trees." that's true.

 

Cueball Cueball's picture

Nice one.

thanks

i think it's good if people can keep their own names and not have either use the other's names. it's more clear.

then the question is, well what is 'one's name' ? in Ukraine we have both patrilineal and matrilineal names marked on gravestones.

(maybe that says something about marriage...[grin])

anywya, this is way off topic from burqas, and i think we need to hear more of what Muslim women are saying about this.

Snert Snert's picture

I saw an article somewhere (I forget where) that drew an interesting comparison between abolishing the burqa and abolishing prostitution, and specificially the comparison was between the similar assumptions that "women are compelled into it", even in the face of women who claim that they're making the choice of their own free will. 

martin dufresne

The difference is that in prostitution, the men benefitting from the institution are quite visible and need to be entered in the equation for the notion of people's choice to make any sense, all people's choices, given their relative resources. No woman is prostituted without at least one prostitutor (john) being involved. Not to mention, pimps, agency owners, procurers, cops and judges on the take...

Ze

A viewpoint almost entirely absent from the press coverage of this revival of 19th century colonial debates, yes.

Quote:
Sarah Joseph is the editor of Britain's only Muslim lifestyle magazine, emel.

She says many Muslim women use the burqa as an expression of their faith and are not forced to wear it by anyone else.

"I mean, I colour my hair. I don't wear [some forms of Islamic dress] myself but I will defend someone's right to do so or not to do so," she said.

"If you deny a woman's right to choose, that is denying them dignity and denying them their freedom, and it won't create a society of more integrated French citizens, it will create a division in France which will be very unfortunate and deny women their right to participate fully in French society."

[url=http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/06/23/2605453.htm]ABC[/url]

 

Snert Snert's picture

Judges "on the take"?  Well, perhaps that's best left for another thread.

But the similarity is obvious too, yes?  I mean, assuming you can believe a woman who says that she's not being forced into prostitution.  And, I suppose, also believe a woman who says she veils by choice.  How does prohibition of either prostitution or burqas accomodate the rights of those women?

Ghislaine

 

unionist: no women on juries until 1970 ?!? wow, I did not know that. I know that Quebec was the last province to grant women the vote, correct?

 

martin dufresne wrote:

The difference is that in prostitution, the men benefitting from the institution are quite visible and need to be entered in the equation for the notion of people's choice to make any sense, all people's choices, given their relative resources. No woman is prostituted without at least one prostitutor (john) being involved. Not to mention, pimps, agency owners, procurers, cops and judges on the take...

 

I know this is further thread drift...but wouldn't this be an argument towards greater legalization/regulation martin?

The arguments you make re: prostitution can be made in the burqa debate as well: "she is being exploited by males, needs to be saved from herself" etc. I think it is a valid comparison to outline the principle that women should have full ownership and control over their bodies and how they choose to show/use/express themselves.

 

martin dufresne

How does prohibition of either prostitution or burqas accomodate the rights of those women?

I don't believe in either action against women. But I do think that men ought to be kept from either prostituting women or forcing them to wear (or not wear) this or that.

Stockholm

Does that make it OK if men want to prostiture other men?

Snert Snert's picture

How about if they just want to have sex with them for money in a willing buyer/willing seller model?

Or is it crucial to always say that "somebody PROSTITUTED somebody else", regardless?

Quote:
I don't believe in either action against women.
 

I thought that prohibiting prostitution (a la Sweden's model) enjoyed your full and unqualified support?

martin dufresne

Maybe you ought to read up on that model before attempting discussion.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

There was someone in France who stated the opinion (on CBC this morning) that outlawing the wearing of the burqa will confine the small minority who do believe in wearing this garment to their homes, because they feel they can not go out in public without it. So what 'banning the burqa' accomplishes

for that small minority is exactly the oppression that the proposed law is designed to eliminate.

Caissa

In general, I am opposed to the state regulating dress.

Unionist

martin dufresne wrote:

How does prohibition of either prostitution or burqas accomodate the rights of those women?

I don't believe in either action against women. But I do think that men ought to be kept from either prostituting women or forcing them to wear (or not wear) this or that.

Agreed. That's the proper balance that recognizes both individual freedom and the social and historical reality of the subjugation of women.

 

Star Spangled C...

Unionist wrote:

 If you can give me a few examples of men who like their female partner's surname and have adopted it for the sake of the kids, I'll be more than impressed.

My brother did that actually. He doesn't have kids but he moved to Denmark, where his wife is from, (they now live in Switzerland) and he thought it would be helpful/beneficial somehow to have a distinctly Danish last name. Not sure it actually WAS helpful but they wanted the same name and took hers.

The way it works in my family is that my wife finished medical school before we were married so her MD degree and professional certifications are under her maiden name. So she goes by "Dr. (Maiden Name)" and "Mrs. (My Name)" and our son has my name. One of her pet peeves, however, (and to protect our anonymity I'll call myself "john Doe" here) is when we get an invite to an event addressed to "Dr. and Mrs. John Doe."

Snert Snert's picture

Quote:
Maybe you ought to read up on that model before attempting discussion.

No big surprises resulted. Should they have??
[url=Quote:

Furthermore">http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prostitution_in_Sweden]
Quote:
Furthermore, some sex workers and sex worker organisations have condemned the Swedish government for refusing to listen to the women who choose to be involved in the sex trade.
[/url]
Exactly why I thought it relevant to this discussion. Substitute "refusing to listen to the women who choose to wear a veil" to see what I mean. Assuming that every sex worker has been forced into sex work isn't that different from assuming that every woman who wears a veil has been forced into it.

Michelle

I've known a number of men who have taken their wives' names (both took hyphenated names, for instance).  I also took my husband's name when I got married - a move I now regret, but I still believe it's a choice I should be allowed to make.

BTW, women don't wear burkas in Iran.  So I'm not sure why Iran is being brought up in this thread in conjunction with this subject.  I mean, maybe some women might, but the vast majority just wear scarves or, if they're really observant, chadors.

Stockholm

Also, burqas have nothing to do with Islam, they are more of an ethnic attire that is unique to Afghanistan.

Unionist

Michelle wrote:

I've known a number of men who have taken their wives' names (both took hyphenated names, for instance).  I also took my husband's name when I got married - a move I now regret, but I still believe it's a choice I should be allowed to make.

 

I totally disagree. Why should people have some special right to change their names just because of going through some marriage ceremony? Why not just on a whim? Why not just if you're best friends with someone and feel like trading family names?

I think it's astonishing that anyone could ignore that women taking their husband's name is a symbol of becoming that man's property - of breaking with her Father and joining a new family with her Husband. And the stories of men taking women's surnames remind me of National Inquirer stories about a goat born with three heads. Equality of men and women does not mean that women have an individual right to continue their subordination under the guise of freedom of choice. It means that society identifies and removes the historical barriers to equality.

For example, slavery is banned in this society. Even if I choose to enter into a personal contract with you whereby I become your slave, the law prohibits me from doing so. Individual rights do not exist in the abstract. They must be based on equality, society, and most importantly, genuine freedom. The "right" to abandon your rights is no right at all.

 

Michelle

There are lots of societies that are a lot more legally patriarchal than ours, where women don't take their husbands' names.  Of course, their children take their husband's names, and custody is heavily in favour of the father in those societies.  Think Iran, for instance.

Taking my husband's name has nothing to do with me being his "slave" and it's not comparable.  In fact, had we gotten married in Iran (and I'd kept my own last name, as is the custom there) I think I'd have been a lot more likely to be forced into subservience there than here!

You're the one who wants me to abandon my "right" to choose to have the same last name as my son.  Or is Quebec so enlightened that all children automatically take their mother's name?  Gosh, you're just so OVER all that patriarchy, aren't you?  Congratulations!

Cueball Cueball's picture

Stockholm wrote:

Also, burqas have nothing to do with Islam, they are more of an ethnic attire that is unique to Afghanistan.

So what? The people who wear them, as far as I know are all Muslims. Not all Jewish males wear yarmulke, this does not me that banning them on one pretext or another would not be antisemitic, since they are only worn by Jews.

Pages

Topic locked