In 2011, Nicholas Sarkozy, the then French President, passed a Law banning the wearing of the burka and niqab by Muslim woman.
(To be clear, a ‘niqab’, is a veil worn in conjunction with the ‘hijab’ whereas a ‘burka’, also known as chadri in Central Asia, is an enveloping outer garment worn by women in some Islamic traditions to cover their bodies when in public.)
I do not believe that any Laws should be passed that discriminate against one section of society, isn’t that what happened in Germany during the 1930’s?
His, (Sarkozy) reason for putting into Law that to wear these garments was illegal? In his words, ‘face coverings are an affront to the Principles of the French Republic and could be used by both shoplifters and terrorists to hide their own identities.’
Ever since this Law was passed the French police have had great difficulty when trying to uphold it. They are being attacked from both sides. The Muslim community is understandably angry that the Law was passed and when police try to carry out the Law, violence usually ensues.
This was the case in the French town of Argenteuil on Wednesday. Police tried to arrest a woman for wearing the veil and were attacked by roughly sixty people. So bad was the melee that riot police had to be called in to restore order. Similar incidents occurred in and around Paris. There, young white thugs took the Law into their own hands and ripped the veil from a muslim woman. Unfortunately their victim was pregnant and had to be rushed to hospital.
Unsurprisingly, Amnesty International have become involved, condemning the Law, saying that it breaches the Rights of Freedom and Expression.
What of the UK? Even now, it is considered ‘racist’, to even discuss the topic. Non-the-less, it does, however, need addressing. Ever since people of the Islamic Faith first came to this country the niqab and the burka have been both a curiosity and a bone of contention with the British people. People were curious as to why muslim women were required to wear such garments. We are told that it is voluntary and, therefore the choice of the women as to whether or not they choose to wear them.
I believe the bone of contention, certainly in the early days of Muslim migration, centered around a sense of outrage because of the naiave belief muslim women were being forced to wear these veils. However, the rise of terrorism in the name of Islam has changed these attitudes. The wearing of the veil and the burka are now perceived as being somewhat sinister and suspicious.
The majority of shops and major stores in this country have banned the wearing of hoodies, balaclavas’ and ski masks by customers when they enter retail premises. Usually there is no such ban on the niqab and burka.
With the advent of ever more CCTV surveillance inside shops, in streets and retail parks I can see the sense in the ban on hoodies etc. Whilst not Law it is at the discretion of the shop and store owners to say whom they allow into their premises. However, one can feel sympathy for those who think that this practice is one-sided.
I do not believe that we in this country should be telling whom to wear what, when or where. On the other hand, a balance does need to be struck. Community leaders need to come together to hammer out some form of compromise or what is happening on the streets of France will be just as common on our streets.