A “Burqa bill” in France

Recently, seven people in France were brought into questioning following a demonstration in support of Pussy Riot, according to an article from The Age. The people were not in trouble for the content of their protest or for becoming violent, but for wearing burqas, traditional full-face veils worn by Muslim women. They were brought in for questioning because, as of April of last year, wearing burqas publicly in France is illegal and punishable with a fine of up to €150.

The government justified the ban by saying it was introduced to combat a rise in Muslim extremism, according to The Age. It is also argued that the ban is to further gender equality in France, which is an important value in the country.

Another aspect of the bill is that people who force another to wear an article of clothing similar to the burqa could be sentenced to jail time. The article from The Age says that this measure was clearly aimed at Muslims and I could see how people would think that.

I can see the point behind the ban, especially in a time of higher racial tension. However, I don’t think the ban necessarily makes sense for France. With 5 million Muslims, the largest population of any country in Europe according to a Seattle Times opinion piece, can France afford to make such a large group feel inferior? The piece from The Age also pointed out that the ban has not been heavily enforced because officers feel that it would cause tension. Wasn’t the reason for the ban and its enforcement to combat racial tension?

I don’t see the point of creating a law that causes controversy and targets a specific group of people if it is not going to be enforced.

Finally, supporters of the ban say that it is a step in the right direction for women’s’ rights in France. However, I see it as the opposite. Banning the wearing of the burqa limits the practice of Islam. Women should have the choice to wear the burqa and practice their religion to the fullest. I don’t think true feminism would take away a woman’s right to choose what she wears.

4 thoughts on “A “Burqa bill” in France

  1. You did a good job presenting the facts on a story that is incomplete. This cannot be a full story without knowing the point of view of Muslim women in France and how they feel about having to wear Burqas. I’ll bet that because of the traditional upbringing, these women would be fairly embarrassed to show their faces just based on social stigma from their religion and upbringing. I may be wrong, but this story desperately needs the input from those who could possibly be oppressed.

  2. First of all, I agree with all of you. Personally, it is scary to me that a government is using the facade of women’s rights to be oppressive. Perhaps the oppression is unintentional but regardless, somebody needs to step back and evaluate what this bill is really doing. I agree with Jennifer, there needs to a voice from both the general public but more importantly from those affected by the burqa ban. It would be interesting to hear whether or not they received a new sense of freedom.

  3. So much for freedom of religion. I don’t understand how a government can have a say in whether someone chooses to wear a specific article of cloth or not. The fact of the matter is that this is clearly a bill designed and targeted at a Muslim population because of fear. Is extremism a problem? Absolutely. But, this is clearly not a moral answer to that problem. I agree with Jennifer – this is another instance where personal choice is again taken away.

  4. I agree with your opinion that taking away a woman’s right to wear a burqa does not actually promote gender equality. If women were oppressed before because men were telling them to cover completely with burqas, they are further being oppressed, maybe even bullied when the French government says that they cannot wear them at all. All the while the woman is gaining no more equality than before, rather she is being told what to do, yet again, by another force. It also seems rather ignorant of the French government, or at least those who put this law into place, to assume that women do not want to wear burqas. Anyway, it would be interesting to hear about this from the point of view of different women.

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