It is said that, “the French riots had very little to do with Islam and much more to do with deprivation and ostracizing, racism.” For the French government, the full veil is a symbol of male oppression.
From the French government’s point of view, the ban protects the dignity and equal rights of women, helps preserve public security and prevents undermining France’s secular identity. These were the government’s main reason for passing the law. Although the legislation goes against the French constitution and the EU Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and backed by the fact that the Qur’an does not require Muslim women to wear the burqa, but that both men and women are required to dress in a modest way they went through and passed the law. Other French groups have also accused Sarkozy of enforcing the law in order to try and win votes.
It sees like in the eyes of the French government, all they want to do is create a state that has nothing to do with religion. Is this possible?
- Before the French passed their law, Belgium passed theirs in April 2010 and France followed suite in July 2010.
- After the French government begun to look into banning veils, other counties like Germany and Switzerland also begun to look into it. They however, did not go through with their bans.
- Now in Netherlands, “a ban on wearing the full-face veil is part of the new Dutch coalition government’s program.
- In the eyes of other Muslim states outside Europe, Europe is intolerant of Muslims. However, some Muslim states in Europe have begun to think around the ban, and are enforcing such rules in their countries. A typical example is Turkey where the government imposed a ban on wearing of the hijab in public spaces, including universities. The imposition of the ban was because of the same reason that the state was a secular one.
- In Italy, where restrictions on the wearing of the full-face veil already exist at the municipal level, a draft bill to ban burqas in general has been introduced.
- In Spain, the parliament rejected a proposal for a complete ban on women wearing burqas in public in July 2010. The Generalitat has since recommended that the full face veil should not be worn in educational establishments as they could impede pupil learning.
- Significantly, very few feminist groups have actually supported these women’s freedom to cover-up, arguing that it is men who are invariably forcing them to do so. It is for this reason that the envisaged banning bill offers a year in prison and a fine of more than £15,000 to anyone convicted of forcing a woman to wear a full-veil. This compares to a nominal £100 fine – or even just citizenship classes – for any woman caught covering her face.
- “The UK immigration minister, Damian Green, has said that trying to pass a law banning women wearing the Islamic full veil would be “un-British” and at odds with the UK‟s tolerant and mutually respectful society. However, Philip Hollobone, a British member of parliament, has introduced a private members‟ bill entitled the “Face Coverings Regulations Bill” which would make it illegal for people to cover their faces in public”. The same parliamentarian has also indicated that he would refuse to meet constituents wearing the veil”.
In all of these situations, as it is in France, the ban seems to be an effect of something worse than religion. It is more of a Muslim fear and an anti-Muslim prejudice that seems to control the way in which these governments act. In a nutshell, the reasons for the ban are:
(a) Protect public security and public order since the full-face veil may be used as a disguise by criminals, and more generally may be seen as a destabilizing threat;
(c) Preserve aspects of the national identity of states, such as respect for “republican values” and state secularity (e.g. in France and Syria);
(c) Promote the integration of Muslims into society on the basis that veils have a negative effect on community cohesion and the majority of Muslims to do not believe the wearing of the veil is a religious obligation;
(d) Discourage fundamentalist Islam taking root in Europe;
(e) Are supported by evidence that they attract public support in many countries.