Sarkozy supports burqa ban

President Nicolas Sarkozy says that burqas are “not welcome” in France, and supports a ban on women wearing the burqa in public.

[He] 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.”

Banning the burqa doesn’t further women’s rights – it limits them. Now, obviously there’s a difference in Islamic women’s dress from the hijab to the burqa – but legally banning any of them erases all agency from Muslim women. (I’m especially wary of Sarkozy’s comments and this potential ban given that France banned headscarves from public schools in 2004.)
If you’re interested in hearing Muslim women talking about the hijab, here are a couple of interesting vids.
UPDATE: Jill has more.
Related posts: Only citizenship for some: France denies citizenship to Muslim woman
Malaysian women speak out on hijab

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103 Comments

  1. that girl
    Posted June 22, 2009 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    One of my coworkers put an interesting light on this (back when the headscarf controversy was happening). She’s Albanian and grew up with liberal parents in a strict Muslim community.
    Being my customary American self, I was upset that France had banned headscarves for the limitations it presented on religious expressions. She disagreed. Growing up, she said, the social pressure to cover her head was incredibly intense, beyond what we get in the US. If women and girls were left to ‘decide’ whether or not to wear the scarves, family and social pressures would almost inevitably make them don the attire, whether they wanted to or not. If one person chose to wear the headscarf, then everybody would eventually feel forced to wear it. She saw the ban as a great way to counteract these pressures.

  2. Sweetbootz
    Posted June 22, 2009 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    Regulating what women can wear in public is never good, no matter what, in my opinion. If they want to wear a burqa, no matter what their feelings and motivations are behind it, that’s fine. if they want to wear skinny jeans and tube tops, that’s fine. If they want to wear oversized t-shirts and sweat pants, that’s fine.
    It’s their right.
    And I think for women who feel that wearing a burqa is not negative, or even empowering for them, this law will cause them great distress and discomfort, and left feeling vulnerable.
    This is NOT a good thing!
    I understand why he did this, and that he has great intentions. But I don’t know if this is the right way to go about this issue.

  3. B. Atoureta
    Posted June 22, 2009 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    If the burqa is allowed, you will never, ever know if that woman is wearing it by choice or force.
    I completely agree with Sarkozy, and hope the ban spreads so far and wide even Muslim countries are forced to adopt it, and Turkey successfully reinstates the ban on it.
    It is meant to be a marker of class, and to set women apart from non-Muslim women precisely so they are treated different even by Muslims. It is degrading.
    It doesn’t hurt a woman to take a veil off of her face (she is allowed to keep one over her hair). It hurts many more woman who are being forced to and cannot take it off.
    It isn’t the root of the problem, true, but what an excellent place to start.

  4. azinyk
    Posted June 22, 2009 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    I’ve thought long and hard about this issue. Banning a religious symbol in the United States would be a clear first amendment/free-exercise violation, but in France, secularity is a pillar of the republic, so it’s not so clear on the legal grounds.
    On the moral grounds, I’ve been strongly in favor of liberty and freedom of conscience, but I’m not an absolutist. Unlike some hard-core libertarians who think that you should be able to voluntarily enter into slavery or sell your organs for profit, I think that we are better off with less than total freedom.
    In the case of the burqa, I think it isolates the community, and makes it harder for muslim women to access the full possibilities of French life. The nub of the matter is that fundamentalism is a Bad Thing, and I can’t help but notice that in Iran, where women tend to wear a headscarf that only covers the back of their hair, women earn more than 50% of college degrees, whereas in Afghanistan, where they wear the burqa, girls are not allowed to attend elementary school.
    So, I think that banning the burqa is an experiment worth trying in France, but I’m open to hearing different opinions on this.

  5. JesiDangerously
    Posted June 22, 2009 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    I was beginning to think I was the only feminist out there who agrees with this move. If I were French, I’m sure I’d feel the same way: I don’t want the government telling people how to dress. However, I also want to curb patriarchy wherever I see it.
    The burqa is not a religious symbol. It is a cultural tradition that has been used as a symbol of oppression. Many Muslim women have liberated themselves from the practice, but many men still force their wives and daughters to wear the burqa. Hijabs and headscarves, I have no problem with. But the burqa is not required by the Quran and should not be tolerated in any republican society.

  6. rustyspoons
    Posted June 22, 2009 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    This. Forbidden an item of clothing takes the agency away from women just as much as forcing them to wear it does.

  7. Mr M Crockett
    Posted June 22, 2009 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    I cannot agree with this measure. I will agree that in some circles there in a degree of compulsion – which is wrong – but, this is not the way to go about it.
    Firstly, it gives the green light for racists to attack (verbally or otherwise) Muslims – in this case particularly Muslim women. Fascist Le Pen came second in French elections in recent years. A measure like this is not good at any time, but, in the current climate, is dangerous. Any intolerance that already exists will breed.
    Secondly, (I speak as an atheist when I say this) while it is correct that religion and state should be entirely separate, freedom of expression – including religious expression – should be a right.

  8. smiley
    Posted June 22, 2009 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    I am staggered.
    I am staggered to see the burqa defended on a site that considers high heels to be oppressive.
    Come on! Let’s be realistic here. A western woman who chooses to wear high heels or become a cheerleader can decide to wear low heels and a heavy sweater the next day.
    I am extremely suspicious when I hear the statement about the burqa being worn freely – I feel like retorting ‘the day that woman is seen in a t-shirt or unveiled I will believe that her burqa was a free choice – until then I don’t believe that she is free to do otherwise.’

  9. muslimah202
    Posted June 22, 2009 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

    This is a great post on headscarf in Iran:
    http://muslimahmediawatch.org/2009/06/19/you-say-you-want-a-revolution-in-a-loose-headscarf/
    I really encourage you to read it.
    Also, as far as the comparison between Iran and Afghanistan..there are clearly A LOT more factors at play that go into rates of education/illiteracy….politics, economics, etc..
    Correlation does not imply causation. What about all of the muslim women that wear hijab and excel academically. Can we then say that a hijab is a prerequisite to excelling academically?
    The issue here is about choice. You are controlling a woman’s body just as much by telling her she cant wear something as you are by telling her that she has to wear something.

  10. B. Atoureta
    Posted June 22, 2009 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    I think the issue with those against the ban is more along the lines of being fearful of the type of precedent being set when a government authorizes bans on religious symbols, and specifically what women can and cannot wear.
    It is because there is no consensus on what it symbolizes (here in the West) and why it is worn, that there is so much defense of the burqa.
    But in the countries in which the burqa is enforced, there is only one main reason: women should not show their skin in public, because of their inherent “sinfulness”.

  11. JesiDangerously
    Posted June 22, 2009 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    The hijab and the burqa are not the same thing. The burqa is worn to completely conceal a woman’s body, and the Quran does not call for that extreme form of “modesty”. It is a tradition created by men to oppress women.
    The hijab is a more appropriate religious garment, as it adequately covers the female form without trying to pretend that the female form does not exist.
    The few women who willingly choose to wear the burqa without pressure from any male in her life do so on a false premise of what the Quran requires a woman to wear.

  12. SarahMC
    Posted June 22, 2009 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that no women who wear burqas do so of their own free will. What effect will banning the burqa have on those women? Will they be liberated from patriarchal oppression or will the patriarchal oppression take another form? I imagine women will simply be forced to stay home rather than move around in public without the burqa.
    You can’t destroy male oppression of women by limiting women’s clothing options.
    Not that any of this is truly about empowering women.

  13. sarah714
    Posted June 22, 2009 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    The idea that if it’s not banned, you don’t know if it’s by choice or by force may be true, but how far do you take this line of reasoning?

  14. B. Atoureta
    Posted June 22, 2009 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    I’d rather err on the side of the woman being forced to, than the woman not being forced to, since the former is a victim, and the latter is not.

  15. Caton
    Posted June 22, 2009 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

    You’re not the only feminist, believe me. I feel naseous that Jessica would even make this post. Headscarves and hijabs are one thing, but to even pretend for one momen that the burqa is the same is stomach-turning.
    In no way can a woman wearing a burqa ever be said to have “chosen” it. She is either physically intimidated into wearing it, or brainwashed from childhood into wearing it, or culturally pressured into wearing it.
    I’m disgusted by this post on Feministing.

  16. Caton
    Posted June 22, 2009 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    And let’s not forget that a headscarf isn’t a burqa. to prepose that human beings choose this! This site jumped the shark today.

  17. Caton
    Posted June 22, 2009 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    To the burqa.
    Period.
    Jessica attempting to conflate a burqa ban with the headscarf was what might have confused the issue for you, but if we are talking about burqas there is no slippery slope so “choice”.
    It’s inhuman and for the same people who reconize and in fact lead the way in arguing that subordinates in the workplace may not have the choice to say no, to claim that a woman “chooses” to don the burqa in that oppressive culture is absurd, ludicrous and PC ass kissing at its worst.

  18. muslimah202
    Posted June 22, 2009 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    I definitely do not want to conflate the hijab with the burqa. I was merely using it as an example to address the point that “correlation does not imply causation.”
    The burqa is not obligatory in Islam. Personally, as a muslim woman, I dont like the burqa. I would even go so far as to say that I hate it. However, I do think that this issue goes a lot deeper than what i may or may not like and what you may or may not like.
    Also, I do not completely agree with your statement that “The few women who willingly choose to wear the burqa without pressure from any male in her life do so on a false premise of what the Quran requires a woman to wear.” I think generalizations of any kind are dangerous and dehumanizing. I know people that definitely do not fall into this category. They wear the burqa, knowing that its not obligatory but do so because they think its going a little “extra”. Again, I dont agree with that but I think it should be noted that that is a particular viewpoint.

  19. Caton
    Posted June 22, 2009 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    Yes. And yet, everyone who wants to claim that outlawing the burqa is “controlling women” wants to continue to conflate the burqa with the hijab and the headscarf.
    They are making a dishonest argument.
    But Jessica began that.

  20. JesiDangerously
    Posted June 22, 2009 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    What’s even more astounding is the replies to a similar post on Jezebel.
    Another forum I frequent was discussing this, when I found myself arguing against an atheist Libertarian and a staunch conservative, both against the banning of the burqa. There were several other right-wing Christian posters who agree that banning the burqa is more oppressive than allowing men to force their wives to wear it. It’s like the Twilight Zone.

  21. Caton
    Posted June 22, 2009 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    I guess when religion gets involved, then you have the right wingers willing to defend just about anything, and when culture gets involved, then you have the left willing to defend just about anything.
    I’m pretty left, but I don’t feel any need to place the Muslim “culture” above the christian one which any one here would be the first to admit is fucked up about women. I’m not interested in kissing any man’s ass no matter which religion he represents to show off my multicultural bonafides.
    I remembered today why I rarely read this site. And I Am A Fucking Feminist.

  22. Caton
    Posted June 22, 2009 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    I guess when religion gets involved, then you have the right wingers willing to defend just about anything, and when culture gets involved, then you have the left willing to defend just about anything.
    I’m pretty left, but I don’t feel any need to place the Muslim “culture” above the christian one which any one here would be the first to admit is fucked up about women. I’m not interested in kissing any man’s ass no matter which religion he represents to show off my multicultural bonafides.
    I remembered today why I rarely read this site. And I Am A Fucking Feminist.

  23. fairplaytoher
    Posted June 22, 2009 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for posting this. I disagree with the idea of a ban. Whatever we may feel about the burqa, its history and meaning, the fact is that many women do wear it out of choice. Women living in Iran do not have a choice nad have to wear the hijab so are in a different position. If women’s choice is taken away then it is a violation of their rights. A total ban on the burqa would just be an alternative form of oppression.
    Whilst I am aware that the burqa and hijab are different, as Jessica says, the hijab has been banned in French schools since 2004. The government used the dame reasoning then that they are using now: the hijab and burqa do not fit in with the republic’s secular values. I find this very strange as liberty is central to these values and religious freedom is a constitutional right.
    I am worried that if we take the route of judging all women who wear the hijab or burqa as oppressed then this only serves to stereotype Muslim women. Muslim women are individuals with differing views and opinions that we need to listen to and try to understand whether we agree with them or not. Otherwise we risk being oppressors.

  24. fairplaytoher
    Posted June 22, 2009 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for posting this. I disagree with the idea of a ban. Whatever we may feel about the burqa, its history and meaning, the fact is that many women do wear it out of choice. Women living in Iran do not have a choice nad have to wear the hijab so are in a different position. If women’s choice is taken away then it is a violation of their rights. A total ban on the burqa would just be an alternative form of oppression.
    Whilst I am aware that the burqa and hijab are different, as Jessica says, the hijab has been banned in French schools since 2004. The government used the dame reasoning then that they are using now: the hijab and burqa do not fit in with the republic’s secular values. I find this very strange as liberty is central to these values and religious freedom is a constitutional right.
    I am worried that if we take the route of judging all women who wear the hijab or burqa as oppressed then this only serves to stereotype Muslim women. Muslim women are individuals with differing views and opinions that we need to listen to and try to understand whether we agree with them or not. Otherwise we risk being oppressors.

  25. Jessica
    Posted June 22, 2009 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    Um, I actually specifically differentiated the hijab and burqa. But no matter the big differences between them, banning what women wear is NOT going to help women. (See SarahMC’s comment.)

  26. fairplaytoher
    Posted June 22, 2009 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for posting this. I disagree with the idea of a ban. Whatever we may feel about the burqa, its history and meaning, the fact is that many women do wear it out of choice. Women living in Iran do not have a choice nad have to wear the hijab so are in a different position. If women’s choice is taken away then it is a violation of their rights. A total ban on the burqa would just be an alternative form of oppression.
    Whilst I am aware that the burqa and hijab are different, as Jessica says, the hijab has been banned in French schools since 2004. The government used the dame reasoning then that they are using now: the hijab and burqa do not fit in with the republic’s secular values. I find this very strange as liberty is central to these values and religious freedom is a constitutional right.
    I am worried that if we take the route of judging all women who wear the hijab or burqa as oppressed then this only serves to stereotype Muslim women. Muslim women are individuals with differing views and opinions that we need to listen to and try to understand whether we agree with them or not. Otherwise we risk being oppressors.

  27. fairplaytoher
    Posted June 22, 2009 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for posting this. I disagree with the idea of a ban. Whatever we may feel about the burqa, its history and meaning, the fact is that many women do wear it out of choice. Women living in Iran do not have a choice nad have to wear the hijab so are in a different position. If women’s choice is taken away then it is a violation of their rights. A total ban on the burqa would just be an alternative form of oppression.
    Whilst I am aware that the burqa and hijab are different, as Jessica says, the hijab has been banned in French schools since 2004. The government used the dame reasoning then that they are using now: the hijab and burqa do not fit in with the republic’s secular values. I find this very strange as liberty is central to these values and religious freedom is a constitutional right.
    I am worried that if we take the route of judging all women who wear the hijab or burqa as oppressed then this only serves to stereotype Muslim women. Muslim women are individuals with differing views and opinions that we need to listen to and try to understand whether we agree with them or not. Otherwise we risk being oppressors.

  28. B. Atoureta
    Posted June 22, 2009 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    Then the men will be sent to prison for slavery.
    But more importantly, they’ll never be able to force their daughters to wear it once they reach the proper age: once they get their periods and become “marryable”.

  29. B. Atoureta
    Posted June 22, 2009 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

    Then the men will be sent to prison for slavery.
    But more importantly, they’ll never be able to force their daughters to wear it once they reach the proper age: once they get their periods and become “marryable”.

  30. Caton
    Posted June 22, 2009 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    Who told you that France has to change THEIR culture and their morals to make religious extremists comfortable?
    I think it will help women in the long run, but in the short run, no culture should have to change their own respect and empowerment of women and/or minorities to be pc, and that’s what this is.
    don’t even try and pretend that wearing the burqa is a choice. You remind me of a NY Times story I read several years ago where a feminist at I believe it was Princeton, was asked why she was always criticizing her American classmates and professors, but wouldn’t say a word about a member of the Taliban attending the school. She said it wasn’t her place to criticize other cultures.
    As if forcing and intimidating women into the burqa was a “culture”. As if stoning women to death was a “culutre”. But I’m sure she was a big hit on the campus just as I’m sure your pc take will be a big hit on the lecture circuit Jessica, but I have zero respect for you after this post. You have always annoyed the shit out of me for a variety of reasons but I have always said no matter where I was that I respected you and the work that you do.
    that’s gone after this. You’ve jumped the shark. Enjoy your academic accolades.

  31. fairplaytoher
    Posted June 22, 2009 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    Whoops… have accidently posted this over and over :-( Haven’t posted here before and kept getting an error message!

  32. cubanoheat
    Posted June 22, 2009 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

    thank you JesiDangerously. this bullshit is one of the things which really annoys me about so many feminists. while i dont believe in just banning without challening attitudes, this whole post-modernist push to support oppressive religious dogma (of all faiths) across the left is really annoying me. and they accuse me of siding with the far right over porn….

  33. FrumiousB
    Posted June 22, 2009 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

    Who told you that France has to change THEIR culture and their morals to make religious extremists comfortable?
    I must have missed the story about Muslim immigrants trying to force French women to wear burqas.

  34. azinyk
    Posted June 22, 2009 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    Funny story – my grandmother commented a while ago about how some of the workers in her senior’s home wore headscarves (not at all the same thing as a burqa, of course), and wondered if it wasn’t very hot in the summer. But, after my great grandmothers came over from Russia, they wore headscarves almost their entire married lives. Ironic, but maybe since my grandmother adopted the “English” style, she’s concerned about others who haven’t done the same.

  35. FrumiousB
    Posted June 22, 2009 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

    Great. Another man dictating how women should dress in public.

  36. SarahMC
    Posted June 22, 2009 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

    So who gets punished if women break the no-burqa law? The woman herself, who may have been forced to wear it, or her male guardian? And what makes you think men would be arrested for “slavery” if their wives/daughters/whatever never left the house?

  37. azinyk
    Posted June 22, 2009 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

    ” … may not have the choice to say no, to claim that a woman “chooses” to don the burqa in that oppressive culture is absurd, ludicrous and PC ass kissing at its worst.”
    Very good point. Didn’t we have a post just a few days ago that said we had a moral obligation to ban porn actresses from having sex without condoms, because even though women had a theoretical right to demand protection, there was pressure not to? Why are we so reluctant to infringe on a woman’s self-determination when she’s likely dominated by religious fundamentalists, when we’re happy to make her choices for her when she’s dominated by a profit-driven industry?

  38. jenibelle
    Posted June 22, 2009 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

    It is frankly quite presumptuous to assume that women who wear the burka are necessarily “oppressed.” It is also a far-fetched claim that the burka, a mere article of clothing, is by its nature “oppressive.”
    It is really not up to you or me to determine whether a woman who wears a burka is oppressed or not. It is up to the woman wearing the burka.
    Forcing a woman to take off her burka can be just as oppressive as forcing her to put it on.

  39. saintcatherine
    Posted June 22, 2009 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think you get it.
    You can know the difference between the two and still object; the argument I would give, along with others here, is that you cannot compell change in this area by legislative fiat, without losing other important freedoms.

  40. B. Atoureta
    Posted June 22, 2009 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

    Good question. I do not know what the fines/penalties are for wearing the cross or yarmulke (for example) in France in their schools/public buildings, but I assume it would be the same.
    And why wouldn’t they be arrested for slavery?

  41. jenibelle
    Posted June 22, 2009 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

    You might think it’s preposterous that a woman would choose to wear a burka. But the woman in question might have a myriad of reasons why she wears the burka, none of which are yours or Sarkozy’s business.
    You might think she’s oppressed. Au contraire, she might just be happy as a clam in her burka and be pretty pissed off that the State is telling her to take her clothes off.
    As for the positive effect that your co-worker is talking about, I would argue that the opposite is far more common. Laws against clothing will further stigmatize and marginalize the women who wear them. And for the women who are forced to wear the burka against their will — banning the burqa is, at best, a band-aid solution. Instead of being “liberated,” they may find themselves unable to leave their homes.

  42. Gular
    Posted June 22, 2009 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

    Who said France has to change any of their in-born cultural values to allow other cultures to exist in the Republic? Why can’t there be cultural pluralism and still a functional nation?
    As has been said here many times, when Sharia is lifted in a nation (like Afghanistan, where burqas are common), many women still do choose to wear a burqa. Some choose to wear a niqab. Others choose to wear just a headscarf.
    Also, if you don’t like it here this much, why did you come back?

  43. jenibelle
    Posted June 22, 2009 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

    This section of the comments is appalling. I’m astounded by the arrogance of these claims.
    [i]“It is meant to be a marker of class, and to set women apart from non-Muslim women precisely so they are treated different even by Muslims. It is degrading.”[/i]
    First, it is not up to you, nor any well-meaning feminist to determine what is degrading and what is not. Second, who are you to determine what the single, overarching meaning of the veil is? Are you an Islamic scholar? An anthropologist?
    Or are you just forgetting that cultural symbols and cultural memes, such as the wearing of the veil, can have a wide variety of meanings, many of them having nothing at all to do with oppression?
    [i]“It doesn’t hurt a woman to take a veil off of her face (she is allowed to keep one over her hair). It hurts many more woman who are being forced to and cannot take it off.”[/i]
    Incredible presumption. Since when did you become Mistress of Authority to decide for a woman what hurts her and what doesn’t? How do you know how many women are forced to wear the veil? How do you know how many women wear it freely? You have no idea.
    Furthermore,you have no idea what would happen to a woman who lives in a family where she is forced to wear the veil. A ban against veils will not change any underlying assumptions among her family members. The veil is not the problem, the [b]male oppression[/b] is the problem.
    And it may just stop her from leaving her home. Thanks to her “liberation.”

  44. jenibelle
    Posted June 22, 2009 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

    Sorry for the above mess, my HTML tag skillz are lacking today. It’s bedtime here in Paris :)

  45. Mollie
    Posted June 22, 2009 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

    If anyone wants to start a progressive Muslim movement, it should be an actual Muslim. Not Sarkozy..

  46. Zyfron
    Posted June 22, 2009 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

    Even if we assume that women who wear a burka in public are forced to do so – isn’t this something like a ban on unexplained bruises in an effort to prevent domestic abuse? Surely, if the family has so much control over what a woman wears in public, they would simply keep her from going out in public?
    I agree that it should be illegal to force someone to wear an unnecessary outfit which is often seen as a symbol of oppression, but shouldn’t forcing people to wear it be banned, rather than the outfit itself?
    If a woman genuinely feels that this is the only way to be properly modest, who are we to say that she has been “brainwashed by culture?” Imagine if France (or any nation) passed a law saying all women had to go topless whenever it was warm enough. That would conflict with most people’s ideas of modesty, is it only because we have also been “brainwashed?”

  47. B. Atoureta
    Posted June 22, 2009 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

    Well then we’ll agree to disagree and hope the French parliament agrees with me.

  48. Tara K.
    Posted June 22, 2009 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

    [[ HEADSPLOSION ]]
    1. WTF is up with people saying “no woman has ever chosen to wear a burqa” — you know THIS? You don’t. Seriously.
    2. I’m really upset by the way people say that the headscarf is okay and the burqa not — why? Because you, as presumably Westerners, say so? So you should have MORE say so that the women whose bods it goes on?
    3. I can’t even wrap my head around the people who say, “As long as burqas are legal, some women will be forced to wear them.” Probably, some will. But as long as they are banned, more women will BE LEGALLY UNABLE TO wear them if they choose. WHich is more oppressive? COME ON.
    4. Why-oh-why do people think that it’s they’re duty to define symbols of oppression for other women? Muslim women aren’t voiceless, and they don’t need non-Muslims to speak for them, whether it be through ideology or law.
    5. Just because something has patriarchal roots and exists in a patriarchal culture doesn’t mean women can’t value it as a part of their identity, their faith, their culture, and the way they experience their own personal embodiment. Have you taken a look at the American wardrobe? (Says I, American gurl.)
    6. This is just nasty: a white, non-Muslim, patriarchal system singling out and targeting the physicality, identity, and choices of Muslim women; a native, predominately Anglo system singling out Muslim women and thus enforcing an “our way or no way” approach to their culture. An Othering of Muslim women for the sake of — ??
    Legally banning = inexcusable.

  49. jenibelle
    Posted June 22, 2009 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

    “In no way can a woman wearing a burqa ever be said to have “chosen” it. She is either physically intimidated into wearing it, or brainwashed from childhood into wearing it, or culturally pressured into wearing it.”
    Presumption, presumption, presumption. You accuse a woman of being brainwashed into wearing a burka when you have no idea why she might wear it!
    Do you talk to these women yourself? I live in Paris and I see the consequence of the 2005 ban on religious symbols. I talk to Muslim women. Real women, with brains, that are (surprise!) extremely self-aware. They are even feminist (gasp! it’s true! a Muslim feminist omg!)

  50. SarahMC
    Posted June 22, 2009 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

    Maybe you mean unlawful imprisonment rather than slavery? I don’t know why they shouldn’t, but who is going to report them? I don’t see it happening, logistically. It seems like there’s a lot of pressure being put on Muslim women here – making them responsible for ending male oppression.

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