Listen to: Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens)16
Once again the debate is put on the table. Half a decade ago the Muslim headscarf was taken off from state schools in France on the pretence that it was incompatible with the secular values of the French Republic. Today another Muslim outfit is on the spot. There is a difference however; those fighting against the wearing of the burqa and the niqab want, this time, parliament to legislate so that these two outfits could be banned not only in the French institutions but as well in the life of every citizen.
The idea for such legislation came from the communist deputy Andre Guerin who pledges that France has “to deal with the question”. This idea is now supported by many other deputies from both major political parties. With this new issue regarding Muslim outfits and culture, it becomes difficult for the French Muslim community to believe that what was decided 5 years ago was not aimed at containing the expansion and expression of Muslims’ values and culture in the hexagon.
Many feminist movements in France see in the wearing of the burqa and the niqab an offense towards the woman gender. One point is however being missed in their conception and fight against an obvious expression of Islam. If some men can adopt Islam to the point of letting their beard grow and wearing no other clothes but the Muslim djelaba, why is it that some women cannot make the same choice of restraint and complete submission to God to the point of wearing a complete veil? This is a question most feminist movements need to ponder and answer in order to avoid philosophical contradictions. The wearing of the burqa and the niqab can be a free choice from women as well, and denying it would be admitting a difference between men and women. It is in this sense that forbidding these two Muslim outfits can be considered as an attempt to human liberty. The non believers should for once respect the choice of some Muslim women wearing the niqab or burqa as a free choice. God wears a veil says the Qur’an, here is another reason for Muslim women to wear one as well.
The proposal to ban the burqa and the niqab comes few days after President Barak Obama’s famous speech in Cairo where addressing the Muslim world he claimed that it was not acceptable for some governments in the Western World to prevent Muslims from practicing part of their
culture by dictating them how to get dressed. Barak Obama who was born a Muslim and then later converted to Christianity is the first Western head of state to be working with Muslim women wearing the Islamic headscarf in his administration. Many specialists saw in Obama’s speech in Cairo a denunciation of France’s institutional racism and discrimination. The bill that created a new debate and polemic is seen by most sociologists as part of the ethnocide policy that has been launched against ethnic minorities in France for more than three decades now.
Indeed, what will the next step be?
Men with long gowns or wearing short trousers in the Salafi style should enjoy their last moments of freedom of expression before there come the time when they are forced to shave their long beard and wear exclusively European clothes in order to be authorized entrance in the French institutions.
By Dr. Moustafa Traore