Religious harassment, French style

According to this account in the NY Times, France has officially adopted a ban on wearing facial veils.  Thousands of Muslim women (the number is in dispute) wear the niqab as a matter of religious practice.   “The law does not mention Islam or women,” says the Times. “It bans the covering of the face in any public place, including shops and the street, as a security measure.”

Yeah, right.

Perhaps entry into certain public buildings (courthouses, etc.) might require facial recognition, but is it necessary to ascertain a woman’s identity as she heads to the market, to work, to pick up her kids from school, to the mosque, or to do any number of normal daily activities?  Unless there is some reason to think that a particular woman is a threat to public safety, what could possibly be the rationale to force public unveiling?

Certainly any reasonable security rationale would have to ban all sorts of things to be consistent: sun glasses, scarves, turtleneck sweaters, tinted windows on an automobile, tucking one’s face into a jacket to avoid a cold breeze, shielding one’s eyes from the sun.  What about all those French bicyclists?  They ride by with helmets and sunglasses and move so fast that they must be hard to identify.   At least banning them would make driving busy roads easier.

I guess these women could be hiding something dangerous under their veils.  Of course what could be hidden under a face veil that couldn’t also be hidden in a coat, trousers, purse, or briefcase?  Are the French going to require that all briefcases and handbags used in public are transparent so the police can view the contents?

Any security claim in this case is merely a pathetic excuse unworthy of a free people—even the French.   The only thing more offensive than this type of blatant harassment is justifying it in terms of public safety.   The French pride themselves on being tolerant, but apparently that only extends to tolerance of rudeness, infidelity, and public nudity.

Apparently the ban has broad public support.   One more reason not to live in France (as if I needed another).

5 thoughts on “Religious harassment, French style

  1. Alright! So I get it!!! The French are racist but they only are asking people not took in a particular way in their own country, “France”. The French are not going to Iran forcing women to show their faces in public.
    They don’t want religious nor race diversity but why do they have to? If you don’t agree then don’t live in France.
    Countries like Saudi Arabia forces women to cover their heads and faces and walk around town looking like garbage bags…they also force tourists and visitors to do the same so does Iran and Afghanistan! Do you see me living in those countries? No!!! Societies can do whatever they want as long as its within the boundaries of their own state and they are not harming other people, they are racist or whatever their problem is but why do they have to be cool about it?Where do you draw a line?

    The world has enough problems to worry about than the ones who want to cover their faces but not allowed in Paris…The women who are complaining about not being able to hide their faces in Paris are enjoying the ability to drive cars and use public transportations. My point is, you have to pick your battles. Do you want this or that? Go to Saudi Arabia and have no rights as a human being or show your face in Paris? Make a choice.

    I have nothing against the author of this article. I’m just talking about the issue itself.

    1. I’m the farthest thing from an Islamophile, having lived in Israel for a while and seen the joys of Islamic terrorism up close, but I have to jump in here in defense of the post. Although it’s true there are much worse rights violators in the world, France, which is part of the so-called civilized world, must be held to a higher standard simply because they purport to be free. A cannot be free

    2. Whoops I pressed publish before that was done. Never post from your cellphone…

      A county cannot be free and pass such a law. To do so dilutes the public’s image of freedom. Of course many supposedly free countries have unfree policies that they excuse a necessary and consistent with greater freedom. This is, perhaps, partially responsible for the lack of interest in true freedom today.

  2. “At least banning them would make driving busy roads easier.”

    Actually they’d get back in their cars, making the roads even busier. Less cars will lower traffic, not more. So get on your bike! 🙂

    Asal wrote: “you have to pick your battles. Do you want this or that? ”

    But there wasn’t any battle at all until the government decided to ban the scarves. If the government should be smart about picking battles, why did they pick this one to fight? It seems pretty small, a law affecting what an entire nation can wear on their faces, just to stop a couple thousand women from wearing a religious scarf.

    Women in France have one freedom taken away now. This is becoming more like Saudi Arabia, not less.

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