Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Nude & Prostitution - YES but Abaya - NO in France

Abaya not welcome: Sarkozy

PARIS (AP) - President Nicolas Sarkozy lashed out Monday at the practice of wearing the Muslim burqa, insisting the full-body religious gown is a sign of the "debasement" of women and that it won't be welcome in France.

The French leader expressed support for a recent call by dozens of legislators to create a parliamentary commission to study a small but growing trend of wearing the full-body garment in France.

In the first presidential address in 136 years to a joint session of France's two houses of parliament, Sarkozy laid out his support for a ban even before the panel has been approved—braving critics who fear the issue is a marginal one and could stigmatize Muslims in France.

"In our country, we cannot accept that women be prisoners behind a screen, cut off from all social life, deprived of all identity," Sarkozy said to extended applause in a speech at the Chateau of Versailles southwest of Paris.

"The burqa is not a religious sign, it's a sign of subservience, a sign of debasement—I want to say it solemnly," he said. "It will not be welcome on the territory of the French Republic."

In France, the terms "burqa" and "niqab" often are used interchangeably. The former refers to a full-body covering worn largely in Afghanistan with only a mesh screen over the eyes, whereas the latter is a full-body veil, often in black, with slits for the eyes.

Later Monday, Sarkozy was expected to host a state dinner with Sheik Hamad Bin Jassem Al Thani of Qatar. Many women in the Persian Gulf state wear Islamic head coverings in public—whether while shopping or driving cars.

France enacted a law in 2004 banning the Islamic headscarf and other conspicuous religious symbols from public schools, sparking fierce debate at home and abroad. France has Western Europe's largest Muslim population, an estimated 5 million people.

A government spokesman said Friday that it would seek to set up a parliamentary commission that could propose legislation aimed at barring Muslim women from wearing the head-to-toe gowns outside the home.

The issue is highly divisive even within the government. France's junior minister for human rights, Rama Yade, said she was open to a ban if it is aimed at protecting women forced to wear the burqa.

But Immigration Minister Eric Besson said a ban would only "create tensions."

A leading French Muslim group warned against studying the burqa.

VERSAILLES, France - The Islamic burka (Abaya) is “not welcome” in France because it is not a symbol of religion but a sign of subservience for women, President Nicolas Sarkozy said Monday.
“We cannot accept to have in our country women who are prisoners behind netting, cut off from all social life, deprived of identity,” he said.
“That is not the idea that the French republic has of women’s dignity.”
“The burka (Abaya) is not a sign of religion, it is a sign of subservience,” he told lawmakers. “It will not be welcome on the territory of the French republic.”
Abaya is called Burka in the Subcontinent and Chador in Iran.
Sarkozy told a special session of parliament he was in favor of holding the inquiry sought by some French lawmakers into whether Muslim women who cover themselves fully in public undermine French secularism and women’s rights.
But the president added “we must not fight the wrong battle, in the republic the Muslim religion must be respected as much as other religions” in France, which has Europe’s biggest Muslim population estimated at several million.
The proposal to hold an inquiry has won support from many politicians from both the left and right, but France’s official Muslim council accused lawmakers of wasting time focusing on a fringe phenomenon.
“To raise the subject like this, via a parliamentary committee, is a way of stigmatizing Islam and the Muslims of France,” Mohammed Moussaoui, head of the French Council for the Muslim Religion (CFCM), said last week. – AFP

A comment:
These are double standards of few European countries specially France, if Burqa is banned then they must also banned the NUN garments too as they too wear the same attire and not just this but all religious attires, is it not religious one?, when USA President Obama does not have problem with Burqa why France is afraid of do they want Muslim ladies to dress half or full naked dresses like European ladies, and degrade the value of Women’s, I don’t think this is wise decision


Yat said...

First of all, please remember, "When in Rome, do as the Romans."

France has all the rights to do whatever they want or make any rules they want, irregardless if it makes sense or not. You may think that France's ruling is against your believes, but what does it matter to the French people? It's their country. Just like if you are in Dubai, kissing, hugging is not allowed in public, France just dictates what you cannot wear. For even more extreme examples, I refer you to countries like Afghanistan where women gets stoned to death for just exposing their hair.

Second of all, Muslim traditional dress is regarded as a threat to modern security. We all live in a dangerous time, no thanks to Muslim terrorists. For the French, or any other people, covering everything up except the eyes does not provide any visual identification, which is bad for their national security.

Then, of course, there's a matter of rights. Now, this is where you can argue. Of course some women are happy to wear their hijab, but how would you know if that is what they want and is not because what is forced unto them?

Other than that, I say, there's nothing to shout about here. France is not a Muslim country since memorium, and there's no obligation for them to impose Muslim values.

Malaysian Heart said...

I believe that it would be very wrong for France (or any other government) to ban, discourage or restrict any form of ethnic or religious clothing (or practice), if they do it with the following niat:

1) out of intolerance/hate for Islam, or the religions of any minority groups, or

2) to force minorities to adopt the majority culture, thereby assimilating them.

If my religion requires the wearing of the burka, my religious community must be free to encourage & promote it without undue interference from government, as long as we respect just laws & human rights.

However, it cannot be denied that women from some cultures are discriminated against, even oppressed, by their families & communities. Sometimes, this oppression is even justified in the name of religion and tradition. An example would be the old Hindu/Indian practice of suttee, where widows were burnt to death on the funeral pyre of their husbands. If France were to face a suttee problem today & ban it, I'm sure all of us would praise France, because we all (hopefully) realize that killing people violates their human rights. Granted, suttee is a very extreme & old example, but there are many other examples of the oppression of women still existing today, such as forced marriages, "honour killings", female genital mutilation, "domestic" violence, exclusion from national & public life, subservience at home, unequal treatment, etc. We face similar injustices in Malaysia too.

So, In my opinion, the French burka issue must be decided based on 2 questions:

1) What is the motive & objective of the French government? Do they have a hidden agenda behind this condemnation of the burka?

2) What do Muslim women in France really want? Does the burka in any way oppress them & are they in any way being coerced into wearing it?

In order to find the answers, there needs to be respectful, open & honest dialogue, within communities & between them, with no prejudice & stigma attached to minority cultures & religions. At the same time, religious communities should take the initiative to engage with governments to discuss issues vital to national harmony.  Most importantly, the views & wishes of Muslim women (who are directly affected by this ruling) must be heard & respected.

The end result must be the freedom to rightfully practice ones religion & culture, and the upholding of human rights. Each of us has the right to choose what we believe in, wear & do; therefore, if I want, of my own free will to wear a burka, no government should ever unreasonably stop me.

Malaysian Heart said...

@ Yat,

You could not be more wrong. You can choose to "do as the Romans do", if you want, but nobody must ever force you to. France (or any other government) does not have the right to make whatever rule they want. A majority cannot simply make laws that trample on the rights of minorities. Whenever they make the law, it must have justice & respect human rights.

France may not have the obligation to impose Muslim values, but that is not what we want of them. What we want, & what they are obliged to do, is respect our right to believe, act & dress as we choose, as long as we obey just laws & respect human rights.

What other countries (Dubai, Afghanistan, etc.) practice is immaterial. We must do what is right nonetheless.


Yat said...

Malaysian Heart,

True, nothing should be forced unto anyone. But argue as much as you want, most true Islamic country forces their citizens to do things which they're not willing to but yet they cry it's a religion that encourages freedom.

Now, why is Afghanistan and Dubai immaterial? Why is France so material that I cannot compare a governance of one country to the other? If France must give rights to women to wear burqas, then shouldn't Dubai or Afghanistan give rights to people who do not practice Islam to hold hands or wear short pants?

You're right to say not all terrorists are Muslims, but most terrorists are Muslims.

dato said...

For someone who said its ok because they are tasteful when his wife's nude photos were auctioned to the highest bidder....this French president probably could pass as anti anyone with too much clothing, if not for the term 'Islamic burka' he used (if there is such a thing)...not to mention some types of winter clothing also cover everything except the eyes.

But what Sarkozy is doing is actually specifically telling muslims women that they are not welcome in France if they wear burqa or abayya. He doesn't care bullshit about debasemnet or oppression of women, since this is exclusively a women dress issue.

Has Sarkozy ever ask any women who wears burqa/abayya if anybody force them to wear it, or whether it is their own choice.

May be money will be better spent if France enact a law that will prosecute anyone who force others on what kind of dress they must wear, now...since it is already clear it's ok not to wear anything.

FIRZA said...

a total bull