Saturday, 9 January 2010

French consider burka ban

The blasted French have reverted to Greenpeace bombing, Nazi aiding, weird cheese promulgating type by putting forward a law banning the burka and niqab in public places - which means the 400 odd women in france who wear them can continue to do so in the privacy of their own homes, but risk a €750 fine if the venture out onto the street in them (1).

Obviously, it is a pretty nasty attempt to appeal to reactionary, anti-immigrant prejudice. It looks like it will work as well - neo-fascist Jean Marie Le Pen has decried the suggestion of a ban, arguing current laws could serve without new legislation being required.

Yesterday the veteran far-right leader, Jean-Marie Le Pen, also rejected the need for new legislation against the burka, perhaps surprisingly. He said that the existing French legal code already banned masks in public places. "All they need to do is apply the law," he said. (2)

There is nothing surprising here, contrary to what the Indie suggests. The subtext is pretty plain - everyone should stop trespassing on his territory and leave the hatemongering reactionary chauvinism to him.

Obviously, no-one can come out and say that they are doing this to just to appeal to bigotry and xenophobia. The pretext, ennunciated by Sarkosky, is that by banning freedom of religious expression in public (setting aside for one moment that we're talking about burkas and niqabs, and they are inherently repulsive) is being done in the name of liberation and feminism:
Mr Copé, in his interview with Le Figaro, said a specific ban was justified by security concerns – the need to oppose extremist forms of Islam – but also by an obligation to "protect and respect the rights of women". (3)
Never mind that many of those choosing to wear the burka in France are french born converts, choosing to express their faith in their way:

The burka, per se, is an Afghan tradition allowing a woman only a narrow gauze-covered eye-opening. It is little found in France. The Arab equivalent, the Niqab, which has a narrow opening at eye-level, is only slightly more common.

A study by the French internal security services last year suggested that the total number of women wearing both types of full body veil in France was around 2,000 – out of a total French population of adult, Muslim women of about 1,500,000.

Most of those women who wear full-length veils are below 30 years of age, the report said. Many had been influenced by radical forms of Islam; a substantial proportion were French women who had converted. (4)

I'd say they are weird for deciding to dress up like that, but it is even weirder to argue that you are empowering women by taking away their right to choose what to wear.

Ah-ha, comes the response, what about those who do not have such a choice? What about the wives and sisters and mothers and daughters of fanatical misogynists who force their luckless womenfolk to drape themselves in table clothes when they step out of the house?

Yes, well, what about them? What effect will this ban have on those women? Simply, it will remove whatever minimal freedom of movement they have. their cretinous menfolk aren't going to suddenly see the error of their ways, buy their wives boob tubes and start reading The Female Eunuch. The likely unintended consequence of this law, if passed, would be that these women wouldn't be allowed out at all. Which hardly achieves the stated aim of liberating them.

And, what is sauce for the burka draped goose is sauce for the ... um ... other goose in the bikini.

I could argue that bikinis are a symbol of the oppression of women, a symbol of how they are objectified and exploited in western society,reducing them to sex objects for the edification of males. It is disgusting that this misogynist garment is legal. We must legislate this abomination of genderocide-by-garment out of existence.

Some see a burqua as a symbol of women's oppression. A conservative Muslim might view a bikini as a sign of how the west degrades women by encouraging themselves to parade as sex objects. Obviously, since both positions are founded on subjective considerations, both are equally valid and the ban on oppressive clothing must be extended to include bikinis and other degrading attire.

Standard issue, one size fits all Maoist grey smocks will be issued in due course.

the correct way to deal with the disgusting habit of making women wear burkas and the like isn't by trying to ban it - as I said, that will just result in the women not being allowed out at all. The beliefs that make some people think the burka is a Good Thing have to be persuaded to change their ideas. Moderate Islamic leaders and theologians, and cultural leaders - who don't support this obscenity - need to be brought in, to start a debate on what is required, necessary and right.

Like the war on drugs, the war on burkas won't be won from the top down and the bottom up. the individuals wearing them, and the people telling them they have to do it, have to be persuaded to see things differently. Simply telling they can't do that any more won't work.
1 -"France moves to outlaw the burka and niqab citing égalité," by John Lichfield. Published in the Independent, 8th of January, 2010. (
2 - ibid.
3 - ibid.
4 - ibid.

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