Burqa Ban Passes Big Hurdle in France
“Ladies, show us your faces!” By an overwhelming vote of 335-1, French lawmakers in the lower house of parliament have voted to ban the burqa and the niqab — the most extreme of the traditional Muslim costumes designed to conceal feminine pulchritude (virtually every square inch of it) from prying eyes. The French senate must still approve the bill before it becomes law, but the numbers garnered in the lower house practically assure a nationwide ban when the issue comes to the senate in September.
Why all the fuss over Muslim women’s fashions? Does it really matter whether their wardrobes were designed by Givenchy or the House of Mohammed?
Most of us Westerners recoil slightly at the sight of a woman clad entirely in black from head to toe, with only a narrow slit over the eyes (or a mesh veil over the face) open to daylight. The burqa looks like a portable prison. So does the niqab.
When I see women walking the streets of Philadelphia encumbered with such preposterous outerwear on a broiling summer day, I want to shout at them, “Free yourself! You’re in America now!” But of course, most of those women were born in America, and probably the majority of them wear their portable prisons voluntarily.
That’s the angle the French may have overlooked in their zeal to ban the burqa (and an astonishing 82 percent of the French people approve of the ban). The world’s fundamentalist Muslim men have earned themselves a mostly-deserved reputation as oppressors of their womenfolk, but I’ve also read that many Muslim women wear their black tents freely and proudly. Why should any government be entitled to tell them how to dress? How can any reasonable government impose fines on Muslims simply for dressing like Muslims?
If Europe wants to stem the tide of Islamicization, it should focus a little less on women’s garments and a little more on the alarming rise of militant Islam in its midst — including death threats against cartoonists and sharia law courts in Great Britain and elsewhere. Remarkably and somewhat ominously, the British don’t seem to be putting up much resistance to these harsh medieval judiciaries popping up in their kingdom. Churchill would be appalled. A nation must operate under one set of laws for all its citizens, or it is no longer one nation.