Sarkozy ‘unveils’ morally questionable plan

February 11, 2010 — by Sulmaan Hassan

In the ’70s, Muslim women who had recently arrived to France were usually kept behind suburban doors by the heavy-handed control of their husbands. Often, they were forced to wear the characteristic Muslim veil both in and outdoors; however, this practice was so ingrained into their culture that the women did not particularly mind. Ironically, only when the veil had emerged voluntarily during the ’80s, visibly flaunted by a new generation of determined young Frenchwomen, did concern began to rise. It may seem as if racial discrimination was a figment of the past, but France has shown an ignorance to foreign culture that under no circumstances should be allowed in this day and age.

Today, France is still wracked with intolerance and “Islamophobia,” despite a long-standing tradition of so-called strong democracy. The French government has recently taken steps toward forbidding Muslim women from covering their bodies with a “burqa” or a “naqab,” a robe-like garment that covers from the face down to their toes. France’s President, Nicolas Sarkozy, is backing demands for the burqa to be banned in France. At a joint session of the country’s two house of parliament, he declared, “The burqa is not a religious sign, it’s a sign of subservience, a sign of debasement. It will not be welcome on the territory of the French Republic.”

It is almost laughable to see members of the government arguing that the veil is not truly Muslim, as if they more knowledgeable than Muslims themselves about the orthodoxies of their own culture. While President Sarkozy may be conveniently posturing as an advocate for women’s equality when it comes to the burqa, it comes off as nothing short of racist.

It is not surprising that French Muslims take such offense to their government’s recent actions, after all, France is taking action against a phenomenon that involves fewer than 0.1 percent of France’s population. A vast majority of Muslim women have actively chosen to wear the veil, sometimes in the face of opposition from their family, which shows that the burqa is not being used as a medium to defy French law, but a means of expressing independence, even if it is viewed as a wedge in the movement towards female empowerment.

The decision to wear a veil should be personal or within a family; it is something the government should never intrude upon. The French government said people cannot truly be a citizens if they refuse to show their face as an escape from human interaction. Yet how many teenagers walk around clad with dark sunglasses and a hood on their head? Shouldn’t the same law then be applied to them?

Sarkozy has become so desperate and morally corrupted that he is deciding to tarnish the country’s most cherished principles: liberty and equality. France’s ignorance to culture and religion is not the way of the 21st Century. Integration comes with the ability to accept practices and beliefs that may seem alien. This micro-assimilation is useless and poses no benefit to the French population and government. That is a lesson America has learned better than France, and for the sake of their own future, France must catch up.

2 views this week