The symbolic law banning veil reflects France’s biggest issues: poor integration of a whole generation coming from migration, a rising Islamophobia and the questioning of women’s rights in times of crisis.
Liberty, equality, fraternity the 3 words of the french national motto are losing all their meaning little by little. The “pseudo” country of human rights claims to built a nation of free individuals protected equally by law valid at all times and in every place (Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen (August 1789). Its seems very paradoxical to use this same law to discriminate and put in danger a part of their own population. Revolution seems very far away, some French along with government are breaking everything they built along time by going backward and creating division within society as well as inequalities by going against all the principles of freedom of religion. The country that initiated the declaration of human rights and citizenship which has also been one of the first country’s to evoke the existence of natural right, is now falling very low.
In a series of photographs published online this summer , a woman dressed in a tunic and a blue turban was forced by 3 policemen to remove her clothes , on the beach of Nice. The same city that faced a terrorist attack on the 14 of july during the country national day , the 3 rd attack occurring in France in less than 18 months. This picture completely shocked at both a national and international level. It became a symbol. It shows how policeman blindly apply municipal order, the “anti-burkini arrest” to verbalize women who wear the veil at the seaside. Most of the woman arrested were not even wearing the bathing suit which make this arrest very unclear.
Between the media hysteria, the domino effect in politics and the violent rejection of islam, what started as only a micro phenomenon turned into a symbol. Burkini sales increased by 200% over the summer due to the huge controversy around it. The handful of women wearing veil grew in reaction and for some was no longer a religious clothing but an act of protest and provocation against the society, media and government that point them as enemy of nation and freedom.
The government claims secularism and the right of women in excuse
because France is a secular country, where religion is something that should only be applied in the private sphere. ” The French government in 2004 banned all religious symbols, including the Muslim headscarf, from public institutions such as state schools or town halls. This was followed in 2010 by what the French call the burqa ban, outlawing the full face covering in public. “( The economist, 2014) Following this law every religious symbol should be hidden. Well, why few weeks ago Valérie Boyer, spokesman of François Fillon the right-wing candidate for president, has done her speech on television wearing a cross around her neck. She is very famous for her conservative positions and one of the fervent defender of french “laicité” ( secularism ). Could you Imagine the scandal if that same woman would had been veiled ? A veil is evidently more visible than a simple cross on the neck but this debate was watched by million of people on a national channel. It’s either they apply the law to each individual in a fair matter or remove it as a whole . Using legislation against a community to exclude them a little more in a country that can not or does not want to fully integrate them, this goes against the whole concept of democracy. It just creates more tensions and fundamentalism from both side.
This law just doesn’t make any sense. Government try to hide their islamophobia behind the idea of women rights. The veil is “oppressing” woman and by removing, it is suppose to help them. This only makes their lives worth by giving people more reason to stigmatize and marginalize french Muslims covered or not. A video published on Aljazeera Facebook’s account a french muslim women is being harassed during a minute of silence after the Nice terrorist attack. The incident reflects just how threatening the environment is becoming . Nadia, a young French Muslim summarizes her daily life as a veiled women : ” It’s a war. There is no death, but looks and reflections that kill you everyday “( Liberation,2016). France legitimizes racism in difficult times especially when most of Europe turns to the extreme right. That is why my country is both my deepest pride and shame; forcing women to wear or to remove veil is the same oppression. The government is imposing and oppressing people like the dictatorship they condemn violently.
The case of France is only one example among many others. It reflects the conservatism spreading in Europe with the emergence of right wing parties and the United States with Donald Trump election as well as in the rest of the world. It shows how women’s rights are threatening in times of crisis. Globalization brought new ideas, culture , language and religion with migration. The world is constantly moving and seems more unsure and unstable than ever. But no one should have the right to impose what is “decent”, “moral”, “pure” or “impure”. That’s why education is a pillar against sexism and equal rights. As man or women, this quote from Simone de Beauvoir written almost 70 years ago is unfortunately still very accurate in nowadays world: “Never forget that all it would take is a political, economic or religious crisis for women’s rights to be called into question these rights are never acquired, and you will have to fight for it throughout your life. “
Simone de Beauvoir
Lola-Iris Kadri/ Dubai campus
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