This goes under my list of “Things That Can’t Happen In American Due To the Bill O’ Rights (Thank God).” It seems French President Nicolas Sarkozy thinks the traditional Afghan garmet, the burqa, undermines France’s secular tradition and is bad for women.
He says it’s the right thing to do (Assimilate, dammit!) while Muslims argue that this is just another way to stigmatize and harass them. I’m going to have to come down on the side of the burqa lovers.
I’m not a fan of the burqa, but no one has the right to tell a person of faith how to dress. I don’t care if you don’t understand that faith or don’t like it. And the only reason why this would never happen in the US is because the argument could THEN be made that ALL religious clothing should be banned. (What on earth will those priests wear? Jeans?) That would go over about as well as a ban on Christmas. As in, it would be ass kicking time. And it would not be good.
This also puts Muslim women in conservative households in a HORRIBLE situation. Defy your God, your husband and family or the government of France? Yeah. That will help advance the cause of more freedom for women in conservative or fundamentalist Muslim households — by putting giant targets on their back.
If Sarkozy was actually serious about helping Muslim women he would push to make it easier for French Muslims to participate in French society as citizens, not continue to harass, demonize and marginalize them. You learn to respect women’s rights through exposure to different viewpoints and education. Not this chicanery. And you’re supposed to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority in a Democracy, not the other way around. If we ascribed to this logic, I’d be in a field somewhere, frying my ass off, chopping cotton.
You’re not going to liberate anyone through further oppression.