Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Beneath the veil . . .

I am not a Muslim. I will freely confess that I don't know enough about their religion or culture to speak as any kind of authority.

But I do know that it is wrong for government to try to legislate how one practices their religion and beliefs.

Here in this country, there is (theoretically) a separation of church and state. Government doesn't get involved in religion, even when religion acts in an infamous manner, like with the yahoos with Westboro Baptist Church. Sometimes the line blurs, and is even crossed, but for the most part, the idea our forefathers had has been maintained, and Religion and Politics are two separate ideas. Usually.

Now, France has introduced a bill that will ban Muslim women from wearing the face veil in public, inviting fines and even citizenship classes for those that disobey it. As if saying the practice of Islam means you are obviously not French. Proponents of the law, including President Sarkozy, say that wearing the veil is demeaning and oppressive to women, that it undermines gender equality. Women who wear the veil say it is a matter or faith and dignity, and that the state should not dictate how they live their lives.

I will say that when I see a woman on the streets here completely covered, I want to take off her head-wrap and tell her, "It's okay! Your hair and legs are not shameful!" But, I don't, of course. I may not agree with the practice of covering up as they do, but it is not for me to say how someone practices their faith or lives their life. I am astonished that any country would choose to become the so-called "morality police" and try to force women to be less modest. I suppose I should not be, given the right-wing conservatism here. But, I still believe in personal freedom.

It just seems to be turning into more and more of an endangered species.


YaelH. said...

Remember that it is a FACE veil (niqab) that france is considering a ban on. I could care less about woman wearing the head covering (veil, hijab) as a form of religious expression. I am, however, actually in favor of the niqab ban. Not because of any 'demeaning' spin on it, but because it fosters inequality. As a citizen participating in the public sphere, people can see my face and know my identity. But when a woman wearing a face veil participates in civil society, she withholds her identity and undermines a basic aspect of communication. It's not an equal interaction anymore.

Kimba said...

We live in a country with a government of "morality police" too, otherwise there would be no issue regarding gay marriage, and we wouldn't have "one nation under God" in our pledge of allegiance or "In God We Trust" on our money. I don't see a problem with banning face veils in a day an age of rampant terrorism.

anastasiastarz said...

It was banned in schools long ago. It's becoming an issue also because of terrorism.

Anonymous said...

This isn't the first time France has passed a rule like this. Overall, the European nations are much more nationalistic and will do anything to maintain a strong homogenized national identity. Being French is more important than being Muslim, or so the government believes. I suppose when your country's political history has been so heavily intertwined with religious upheaval and brutality, the security of your entire state depends on putting nationalism ahead of religion.