Monday, June 22, 2009

What Do You Think About This?

One of the things I like the best about blogging is getting other people's opinions on a subject. Everyone has a slightly different take on an issue. With that in mind I am trying a new weekly post in which I will present a topic and simply ask the question, "What do you think about this?"

PARIS — President Nicolas Sarkozy said the Muslim burqa would not be welcome in France, calling the full-body religious gown a sign of the "debasement" of women.

In the first presidential address to parliament in 136 years, Sarkozy faced critics who fear the burqa issue could stigmatize France's Muslims and said he supported banning the garment from being worn in public.

"In our country, we cannot accept that women be prisoners behind a screen, cut off from all social life, deprived of all identity," Sarkozy said to extended applause at the Chateau of Versailles, southwest of Paris.

"The burqa is not a religious sign, it's a sign of subservience, a sign of debasement — I want to say it solemnly," he said. "It will not be welcome on the territory of the French Republic."

Dozens of legislators have called for creating a commission to study a possible ban in France, where there is a small but growing trend of wearing the full-body garment despite a 2004 law forbidding it from being worn in public schools.

France has Western Europe's largest Muslim population, an estimated 5 million people, and the 2004 law sparked fierce debate both at home and abroad.

Even the French government has been divided over the issue, with Immigration Minister Eric Besson saying a full ban would only "create tensions," while junior minister for human rights Rama Yade said she was open to a ban if it was aimed at protecting women forced to wear the burqa.

The terms "burqa" and "niqab" often are used interchangeably in France. The former refers to a full-body covering worn largely in Afghanistan with only a mesh screen over the eyes, whereas the latter is a full-body veil, often in black, with slits for the eyes.

A leading French Muslim group, the French Council for the Muslim Religion, has warned against studying the burqa, saying it would "stigmatize" Muslims.


What do you think about this law? Is it a freedom of religion issue? Is it a symbol of oppression and therefore should be banned? Should it be considered in the United States? Let me know.


shoprat said...

I believe that barring inclement weather or festival activities, one's face should always be visible so those around you know who you are. Those with nothing to hide don't hide.

DaBlade said...

Reminds me of the dustup caused by the woman who wanted her drivers license photo while wearing her burqa, though i can't remember where or when that was. I'm all for Sarkozy here. Wear what you want in the privacy of your home, but don't come outside without your beret.

sue said...

It's a symbol of oppression.

Greywolfe said...

If they want to push the issue, one way plane tickets can't cost all that much. Don't let the door hitcha on the way out!

Pasadena Closet Conservative said...

Once they study it to death, the socialist Libs in French parliament will welcome the burqas with open arms. To do anything less would not be PC in their eyes (which is BS).

Shoprat, another problem with the burqas is that they don't allow for peripheral vision, so the women often bump into things, trip and fall, etc.

But why should your and my facts stop the PC-ers from being completely stupid?

Flavor Country said...

What if a symbol of oppression was wearing sunglasses or women with short hair or the confederate flag, would we ban these to?

I understand to have I.D. taken, remove it. Walk into a government building airport, court house etc... of course, but going about your day to day business I don't have problem with it.

I know someone who wears something similar but not because of religion but because she is very disfigured and is self conscious about people looking at her. Should we ripped it off her head to?

Freedom is about be able to do things you want to do as long as it doesn't infringe on someone else's rights.

The woman I know does not infringe on my rights, neither does s lot of things I don't agree with. But that's the beauty of being free...expression.

Greywolfe said...

"What if a symbol of oppression was wearing sunglasses or women with short hair or the confederate flag, would we ban these to?"

Congrats, FlavorCountry, you just showed how uneducated you really are about this topic.

How about this, we'll have every black in this country wear a steel collar around their neck attached to a leash. IT'S THE SAME THING!

The burkha isn't a religious thing. It's an oppression thing. It removes a woman's identity. I'm pretty sure the Republicans fought long and hard to keep the Blacks from having this type of oppression from continuing.

But I guess since it's happening to a non-black it's fine.

Flavor Country said...

"Congrats, FlavorCountry, you just showed how uneducated you really are about this topic."--Greywolfe

You trade insults vs. civil debate, nice.

Banning the burkha does not change how those women will be treated. Just like women in this country are abused on daily basis who do not wear burkhas at all.

Banning a garment won't change that. It's illegal to hit and abuse a woman here at home, but it still happens.

Not all women who wear them wear them because they are force too, some wear it for traditional purposes. You would know that if you understood the culture more.

Banning a symbol of oppression does not change the oppression, if it did things like racism would not exist. Ban the burkha...their men might just do something else.

Like an X on the forehead....whatever they still will be treated like shit. Doesn't fix the problem at all does it?

Take Care

cube said...

I think people should be free to wear what they choose to wear, but I would draw the line at something like a burqa or any other item of clothing which hides one's identity. A KKK robe & hood would be another example. I wish we had a president with guts.

Mustang said...

Competing interests challenge every society. Does a woman have the right to cover her face for a Florida drivers’ license? No. Driving an automobile is not a right; it is a privilege. And the state has a compelling interest to identify the driver.

I assume the government of France has a compelling interest to protect the safety of the general public. Since we do not know what is under that burkha, and we cannot see the eyes of the wearer (which often signals an individual’s true intentions), then Sarkozy must weigh the interests of Islamic factions with the interests of a secure (safe) society. Perhaps a ban on burkhas is not too harsh if you lived in France and already experienced numerous bombings by radical groups. But just for fun, try to walk into the White House with a concealed firearm, licensed or not.

Flavor Country said...


You don't know what underneath a jacket either. A pair of pants. A long sleeve shirt. A Catholic Bishops garments, a Rabbi's, a Preacher's

What's public safety got to do with what clothes you wear? A government photo I.D., gov buildings yes remove something that conceals your face, but who cares what you wear when you are on a public street?

WHAT ABOUT THOSE MIMES? Can't see their faces either.

Bob Qat said...

Dear Flavor Country,

"Freedom is about be able to do things you want to do as long as it doesn't infringe on someone else' rights."

You're right about that as far as you go. The question of the burqa is how to define private right in public. Although people are entitled to anonymity in public, they have no right to disguise. Other people have a right to recognize you in public.

Traditionally, in the Middle East women have not been allowed in public, rather they are kept in the house as property. On the rare occasion when a woman was allowed outdoors, she had to wrap up. This is still largely true in countries which practice this form of modesty.

In the West, women are allowed to own their own persons, which is as it should be. Thus, as free citizens women are allowed to reveal who they are for public recognition. If a woman wants to cover up as a free citizen, she may do so, but not to the point that it conceals her identity.

Larry Durham said...

I'm with most of the brothers and sisters here: dance around your private home all day long in your costume if you want to. Hell, you can even get "nekkid" under there for the evening prayers if that's your bag...but I'm suspicious of a Muslim babe hiding her body and face. Several terrorists have escaped prosecution by posing as a burqua wearing woman. And the whole body bag can easily hide an explosive device...and like it or not, we all know the radical Muslim's propensity to self detonate. Put me in the "concealing the eyes doesn't reveal true intentions" category.

While I agree with Sarkozy, Besson's reasoning will rule the day in France. They've long caved to appeasing radical Islam and they certainly fear "creating tensions". Anyone remember the cartoon fiasco?

Flavor Country said...

[Although people are entitled to anonymity in public, they have no right to disguise. Other people have a right to recognize you in public.]

Bob Qat,

How do you enforce that? No fake beards. Don't change your hair color, no color contacts, sun glasses.

If I put on some shades and a hat, what's the difference.

What if we said from now on no wearing hats with sunglasses if you have a beard because we can't recognize you? It does not infringe on your rights or mine if someone wants to cover their body.

Just my opinion. I'm done. I'll wait for Chuck to get home and read all the comments.

Take Care everyone

mksviews said...

It should be banned across the western world. No other group is allowed to walk around with all their identifying features hidden, so why should muslims be allowed to.

I don't have a problem with them wearing the full length thing, but the face must be visible to all.

Don't like it, they can piss off.

Chuck said...

Sorry, at work all day.

Great debate. I've got to say that I think this is not an easy question and that is why I posed it.

It is a very fine line between religious freedom and protecting the public's interest.

One of the thoughts I had about the notion that a woman can hide a bomb under a burqa is that the same could be said about any loose fitting tunic or robe (a priest's robes?). The obvious answer is that there have been a lot more Muslims bombing us than Catholic priests.

The point is that it is not really possible to guard against this. We can ban Islamic women from wearing burqas and they will put on a full length rain coat to hide a bomb.

I think the notion that banning the burqa is combatting terrorism is a non-starter. An example of a similar argument is the notion that banning guns will prevent murders. We all know this is untrue. People will pick up a knife, or bat, or stick, or whatever.

Finally, there are far more men doing the bombing than women so banning a burqa would likely have minimal effect.

With this said, I do come down on the side of not allowing them for pictures, in courthouses, 7/11's, etc because they do conceal the face. We do not allow someone to wear a mask into one of these places.

I think my real issue is that they are a symbol of oppression because they are used to oppress women. The trick here is to ban it's use for this purpose. There has been some speculation that some women want to wear them. I find this hard to believe and if true, believe it is uncommon. But if a woman does want to wear them, should we allow it? Are we in a position to tell them not too?

I have to agree with Flavor on one issue, banning them does not solve the problem with oppression, it just moves it to something else. The real threat to Muslim women is not a burqa, it's the beatings, the honor killings, the acid scarring. Banning the burqa does not stop these things. Ironically it may actually exacerbate them because they will be punished for not wearing them.

I also have to give Greywolfe his argument that they can leave if they do not agree.

I am not the most tolerant person of Islam because of their recent history and so my gut reaction was to ban them but it is not a clear cut issue if you give it some thought.

Thanks all for commenting, it was a good debate.

Z said...

I've lived in Paris; I'm with Greywolfe. And London's like downtown Riyad now and the Londoners have a right to their beautiful landscape's combination of Western modernity and traditions without being reminded constantly of the violence within the muslim community perpetrated on them all too frequently. So do the French. The burka's an unsettling sight which, sadly, (caused by extremist muslims), has made the West leery. How could they not?

I do believe many women choose the burka...they've been told you can't trust men; that's why they wear them, it's not a part of the religion, it's because they feel men can't stand the sexual frenzy of seeing a whole ELBOW. YOu know that.

This is all about Islam in modern countries; they come THERE and demand to be accepted. We can't do the same and wear sleeveless dresses in Riyad. We should try to protect our freedoms. Why can't they tolerate OUR WAYS for a change?

Modern muslim women would never wear a burka. I think that's a viable and important part of the equation.