France Upholds Ban on Burqas

Read through Sara Lone’s analysis below and then take our poll – do you agree with the ban?


On July 1, France declared victory when the European Court of Human Rights upheld a ban on wearing full-face veils in public. The ban was introduced in 2010 and weaved its way through the French Parliament with near-unanimous support.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy presented his opinion on the issue in a speech to Parliament, the first time a president had addressed that body since Napoleon Bonaparte in the 1800’s. In his speech Sarkozy said, “The issue of the burqa is not a religious issue. It is a question of freedom and of women’s dignity. The burqa is not a religious sign. It is a sign of subjugation, of the submission, of women  .… I want to say solemnly that it will not be welcome on our territory … in the republic, the Muslim religion must be respected like other religions, but, the burqa is not welcome in France.…We cannot accept in our country women imprisoned behind bars, cut off from social life, deprived of identity.” These views were not held solely by Sarkozy; although France has the largest Muslim population in Western Europe (estimated at 5 million), Pew results from a 2010 poll revealed that 82 percent of the French population approved of a ban on Muslim women wearing full face veils in public.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) was established in January of 1959 to uphold the European Convention on Human Rights and has been recognized by all 47 member states of the Council of Europe. Based largely on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the ECHR contains articles and protocols concerning basic human rights such as the right to life, liberty, security, fair trials, privacy, religion, expression, and marriage. Individuals are also protected from slavery, torture, and discrimination under the protocols and articles. The European Court of Human Rights is similar to the U.S. Supreme Court, as the Supreme Court is the highest and final authority for U.S. states, as is the European Court of Human Rights for grievances found within the forty-seven European member states.

After France’s ban on wearing a full veil was enforced in 2011, a twenty-four-year-old woman, identified only as “S.A.S.” in court documents, challenged the ban, alleging it was in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights. The arguments on behalf of France in support of the ban held that women’s freedom and dignity take precedence over religious practices, and wearing a burqa is frequently believed to be “forced” by men and therefore infringing on women’s rights. National security was also an issue that requires individuals to have their faces be visible. And it was argued that France is a secular, democratic society where citizens must respect the minimum requirements of life in society (“living together”) and the face is vital to social interactions in society. The nation has stayed consistent in its desire to be secular; in 2004 France enacted a law banning the Islamic head scarf and any other religious symbols such as Jewish skullcaps and large crosses in schools.

The “applicant” (plaintiff) in this recent case, S.A.S., claimed human rights violations regarding four articles from the European Convention on Human Rights: Article 8) right to respect for private and family life; Article 9) freedom of thought, conscience, and religion; Article 10) freedom of expression; and Article 14) prohibition of discrimination. According to the ECHR press release, S.A.S. asserted that the ban was discriminatory on grounds of sex, religion, and ethnic origin, to the detriment of the estimated 2,000 women in France who were wearing the full-face veil.

The court came down almost entirely on the side of France with a majority finding no violation of Article 8 or 9 and unanimously seeing no violation of Article 14. The court also pointed out that the penalties for wearing a full-face veil were “among the lightest that could have been envisaged: a fine of 150 euros maximum and the possible obligation to follow a citizenship course, in addition to or instead of the fine.” The court decided overwhelmingly that the ban be regarded as a legitimate way to preserve the conditions of “living together” and accepted that the barrier raised by the full-face veil, completely concealing the face, was breaching the right of others to live in a space of socialization, therefore making “living together” more difficult.

To date, Belgium is the only other country with a ban on the full-face veil, but with this recent ECHR decision more bans could be enacted in other European countries. The same Pew poll referenced earlier reported that 71 percent of the German population approves of a ban, 62 percent in Britain, and 59 percent in Spain. Comparatively, the United States only had a 28 percent approval rating for a ban and a 65 percent disapproval rating.

The September/October 2010 issue of the Humanist magazine published two articles on France’s burqa ban, pro and con, and both from a humanist perspective.

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  • warmonkey

    Freedom to wear what you like- even if it is a burka. Cmon , if I want it for me. – i want it for others!

    • Lielin

      That’s in the US. In France there is a law in the constitution that clearly states that no one should have the face covered. I think the only exemption is for sick people (as they need a face mask).

      • Bethany

        Exactly. I believe it’s common courtesy to take off hoods and sunglasses when you enter a building. I believe everyone has the freedom to wear what they want, but you cannot completely cover your face. That’s just an all-around bad idea.

        • Deanjay1961

          Yet, they didn’t outlaw ski masks. Are people with shocking deformities proscribed from concealing them?
          All they needed for safety was a ‘reveal face on demand’ for law enforcement, and sensible restricitions on face coverings in banks and the like. There was no security need for a ban on muslim garb specifically.

      • Deanjay1961

        It’s in their constitution? Really? Could you point me to the Article of their Constitution in which covering your face is prohibited?

    • audisqus

      But do you really want the freedom to wear literally whatever you like? Or do you think there are some reasonable restrictions? It’s a gray area due to the potential security problem. And personally I don’t see how wearing what is essentially a garbage bag qualifies as an important religious symbol. The Quran doesn’t even say anything about such a full covering. The only mention I found when reading the Quran was the ambiguous command in 24:30-31. But it doesn’t say to cover the face. It seems to mean to cover one’s body (neck, cleavage, etc). The concept of fully covering is mostly cultural, not religious. It has just become mixed into fundamentalist Islam.

      • Jacob

        A person should have the right to wear as much or as little as they want no matter where they are. There will always be something that makes you uncomfortable and you shouldn’t try to force your opinions on someone just to make yourself feel better. There are no security issues with face coverings. If you’re going to rob a bank, I doubt you’ll be concerned with a fine for covering your face. Islam is a disgusting religion, but this goes too far.

        • AllCanadian Woman

          Islam is no more disgusting than any other religion in any secular society. France is a secular society. In a secular society no religion has the right to force their views on anyone else. That is what this is all about. Shame on you for singleing out Islam. If you live in the USA, look to your own supreme court to see misogyny in action.

          • Jacob

            In the words of Bill Maher, “you don’t see Buddhists blowing up buildings.” I am in the U.S. actually. I hate the government here too, so don’t get too worked up. There’s no reason any government should have the power to tell you what you can or cannot wear. If you suspect a woman of being abused, investigate the husband. Don’t make laws telling a woman what she can wear. We’ve been dealing with that in the U.S. since its inception. I can go shirtless basically anywhere but a woman would be arrested. Do you support that too?

          • AllCanadian Woman

            You wrote: “I can go shirtless basically anywhere but a woman would be arrested. Do you support that too?” I live in Ontario, Canada where women can be topless anywhere a man can be topless because we have equal rights and secular laws. I don’t know where you live, but if women get arrested and not men for being topless, I hope you are fighting against such grossly unjust misogyny. It is barbaric in my view.

            Also, this French law isn’t specific to Islam, it is banning any overt religious symbols in the public sphere. You have missed the point.

          • Jacob

            Actually it is expressly directed at burqas. The law has no penalty for overtly expressing any kind of religion other than Islamic extremism.

          • Deanjay1961

            And wearing a burqa doesn’t automatically make one an extremist.

          • pennyroyal

            the early puritans in Boston in the early 1620s wanted women to go around veiled, saying it was in the bible. Thankfully, even back then, the puritan theocracy that was Boston didn’t follow up on that. They were too busy forcing out Roger Williams who started the first colony based on ‘religious freedom’ back in the 1620s.

          • bruzote

            You think consistency of a freedom ideology will get you freedom in the real world? In the real world, values cycle and eventually freedoms get curtailed in the fight against oppression that arose from freedom. Islam will oppress your descendants, and the future Islamists will thank your memory for defending their path to doing so.

          • Jacob

            Oppression cannot arise from freedom. Oppression is the exact opposite of freedom. Education is the key to ending these nonsensical religions. You’re giving power to the Islamists by making them martyrs. The same as the U.S. has done with our wars in the middle east. Government after government has fallen to radical Islam now that we interfered. Our own country is imploding trying to fight a threat that was never really there. Osama won. His plan worked perfectly. Your statement is neocon thinking at its worst.

          • Elizabeth Van Horn

            Still acting as a harbinger of future doom? *smiles*

            Go, look up this video:

            Hans Rosling’s 200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes – The Joy of Stats – BBC Four

            That’s data. It tells the real truth of where our future lies, and it’s not the one you’re conjuring with your scare tactics.

          • Elizabeth Van Horn

            Still acting as a harbinger of future doom? *smiles*

            Go, look up this video:

            Hans Rosling’s 200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes – The Joy of Stats – BBC Four

            That’s data. It tells the real truth of where our future lies, and it’s not the one you’re conjuring with your scare tactics.

          • Deanjay1961

            Paranoid much? In the real world, there are hardly more Muslims in America than Jews. There’s an ocean between us and the nearest Muslim-majority country. We have a constitution that expressly forbids theocracy. We have millions of Catholics on tap whenever we’re willing to let them come over. There’s no way Muslims will ever have enough power in the USA to override the Christians and secularists.

          • Deanjay1961

            Buddhists haven’t blown up US buildings, yet. There are Buddhist terrorists. They have just been better about operating close to home.

          • warmonkey

            ABC News January 24, 2014, 9:10 AM

            “U.N.: Dozens of Muslims massacred by Buddhists in Burma”

          • Deanjay1961

            And in a secularist society, oppression of religion by the government is at least as bad as government supporting religion. Political secularism is government neutrality on religious matters.

        • David Kimball

          Banks do not allow you to wear sunglasses, large hats, masks, etc. when entering their buildings or even using their ATMs. We do not have complete freedom here and we shouldn’t have complete freedom.

          • Deanjay1961

            A bank can ask you to remove your veil before serving you, in America AND in France. Only one of those countries won’t allow you to wear one on the street.

          • David Kimball

            And how many of these two countries will not allow women to go topless in the streets? Why won’t they allow that? Because they are trying to create a culture. Societies have rights also to form and create a culture to their pleasing. Just like our country (and probably France also) will not allow people to sacrifice goats and sheep in public even though some people who believe in Voodoo feel that is a sacrament. Neither society will allow polygamy even though Muslims and Mormons might believe it is their religious prerogative. People may believe what they want, but they must act and behave in line with the society where they live.

          • Deanjay1961

            Countries that do allow it seem to fair fine. Funny, I’ve never seen ‘hey, we’re trying to create a culture, here!’ as a justification for passing a new law.
            No one is allowed to kill animals on the sidewalks for any purpose but public safety, so it is not discrimination against Voudoun that they conduct their sacrifices on private property than it is discrimination against butchers to have the same requirement.
            Instituting polygamy would be a civil law nightmare, enough of a burden to justify not going there, I think; but on the other hand, a man from a counrty where it is legal should not have to divorce one or more of his wives in order to immigrate, so I think an exception should be made for that.
            Any country will let you do what the government approves of. It is only in free countries that people may say and do things which of which the government does not approve. A country is freer when it is based on protecting individual rights, and that’s a culture, too.

      • Carlton

        This is a good, balanced analysis. To some Muslims, I suspect that a woman uncovering her face in public is the equivalent of a man or woman going completely naked in Western cultures. But if Muslims want to go to that extreme, they should stay in places like the wilds of Afghanistan and Pakistan where it is (unfortunately) an accepted part of the culture.

        • David Kimball

          Right. They must abide by the laws and the culture of where they elect to live. France has a right to determine its culture – both through its government and through its society – just as we do here in the US. We do not allow all religions to behave according to their religions when in public society. (Like sacrifices of goats and chickens by Voodoo followers, or polygamy by Muslims or Mormons.) They can believe what they want, and they can practice it in their own private spaces, but not in society at large.

      • bruzote

        Exactly! It is NOT in the Quran. Even if it were, it is a horrible practice. How sad when women defend it. I really feel like going back to the days when I called those women “sweet cheeks” before they got me coffee. Do women really understand that a small percent of women wearing burqas will not only bring back those days (eventually), but even worse?

        • Elizabeth Van Horn

          Whether it’s in the Quran, or not, is not irrelevant. What *is* relevant, is that a free native born French woman who wishes to wear her burqa, cannot do so in public. So, when you get dressed everyday to go out into the world, think about the freedom that *you* have, but you support denying the same freedom to the women of France.

          Also, your continuing use of imaginary draconian scenarios doesn’t enhance your credibility.

      • Deanjay1961

        And you getting to decide what’s legitimately religious is perfectly in line with freedom of religion and freedom of expression.

    • AllCanadian Woman

      France is a secular country with separation of church and state. In order for all religions to live in peace, all must be treated equally. Otherwise, each will vie for supremacy and create conflict. If you want to cover your face and hide your identity in a secular society, you can do that in the privacy of your home and in non public places. The USA on the other hand has many laws that are religiously based, like the supreme court decision to allow the religious feelings of a few to take away the rights of individual women to reproductive health care. This, under the guise of corporations providing health care. In France and the rest of Europe, Canada and Australia, the health of the nation is not controlled by corporate interests, but by the people. As I understand this issue, covering the face is a cultural issue, not a religious one in any case.

      • Elizabeth Van Horn

        You have no clue about what the US Constitution and Bill of
        Rights does. Please educate yourself on this, as your misinformation
        campaign is much maligned.

    • pasapdub@gmail.com

      And where do we draw the line between what you want to wear and public safety? If you’re dressed as a potential bank robber/terrorist, people will fear you! How many men could potentially don a burka and rob a bank? Or plant a bomb?

      Sorry…freedom of dress only makes sense when it does NOT obscure identity.

      • Deanjay1961

        Not allowing anyone to cover their face in a bank is already the law in both countries. A simple ‘bare your face on request of law enforcement’ for the streets would have been a non-discriminatory solution for other concerns.

    • David Kimball

      How many banks not do not allow sunglasses, hats, hoods, or masks? We do not have nor do we practice total freedom of wearing whatever here in the US.

  • fnostro

    This poll above is meaningless. On what grounds do you base the banning? If it’s a security matter, then you believe that government has the right to video record everything we do (although we do enough surveillance of each other on our own).

    If it’s a religious issue, then you believe that those that choose to wear it have been brainwashed by a cult-like religion and their own choices to be nothing more than that of a child being told what to wear by their parents.

    Face veils and Burqas are clothing and as such are fashion choices and should not be regulated beyond relevant public nudity laws. Placing religious significance on an article of clothing should not make it illegal, though it will most likely make it a fashion crime.

    • Heather

      On the grounds that it violates women’s right to freedom. It’s not just the burqa, that is just the outward symbol of the repression of women in Islam. I saw a woman in the park today, in Seattle, in full black burqa. It was hot and she was dripping sweat from the small portion of her face that I could see. How can we justify allowing women in free countries to be required by their religion to wear something so uncomfortable and unhealthy? The man with her was wearing shorts and t-shirt.

      • Cayce

        Ultimately, wearing this is her choice, especially in America. I understand the ridiculous religious and familial obligations pressed upon her, but it’s still her choice and no law should take that away from her.

        • AllCanadian Woman

          The USA does not have separation of church and state as evidenced by the recent supreme court decision to restrict women’s access to reproductive health care based on their employer’s religion. France is a secular country. I feel the USA has perverted the meaning of religious freedom and does not have separation of church and state. Your agreement about choice in the USA hasn’t much validity in my view.

          • Istenno

            as ridiculous as that ruling was, please do not forget that the women in question do indeed still have the choice to purchase birth control. it’s not as easy or as cheap, but the choice is still readily available. they can choose birth control and they can choose a burka, even at the same time.

          • AllCanadian Woman

            In France, all of Europe, Canada, Australia and many other countries, women’s reproductive health care is not controlled by for profit corporations, but by the people. In the USA, this is not the case. The USA is the only country in the first world that does not provide universal health care for people. Whether birth control is cheap or not, this is not the issue. Why should the religious beliefs of a corporation trump the rights of women in the USA? France is a secular society where no one group, corporation, religion gets to undermine the rights of all. I feel the USA has sanctioned the right of religion above the right of the individual. In my view, the USA is not a secular society.

          • Elizabeth Van Horn

            Good grief, you have no clue about what the US Constitution and Bill of Rights does. Please educate yourself on this, as your misinformation campaign is much maligned.

          • pennyroyal

            it’s not ‘choice’ if you can’t afford birth control. Not everyone is middle class like we are with our computers and internet. Think of the parameters here. This is forcing women to be exposed to an unwanted pregnancy, which could mean more poverty for her and her existing children.

          • Deanjay1961

            It’s forcing the government to find an alternative way of ensuring they are provided coverage for birth control.

          • Elizabeth Van Horn

            You don’t understand the US Bill of Rights. It protects people’s rights to have religion, or not. But, the government can’t violate that basic protection by mandating and subverting those rights. Which is why the Supreme Court ruled the way they did. It’s the most basic of freedoms, in that the individual is protected from mob rule. It’s exactly why we have the First Amendment. Please learn a little about things, before you denigrate.

          • Deanjay1961

            OK, I didn’t agree with that decision either, but it just means the government will have to find an alternate way to provide the coverage. The reason the court ruled the way it did is that there ARE ways to make sure women get that coverage without requiring the employers ro provide it. Under the RFRA, the government is required to carry out its mandates in the way least burdensome to religion. Among other possibilities, the decision opens the door to single-payer birth control coverage.

        • pennyroyal

          don’t you understand there is no choice when family, religion, culture force you to wear it? There is no choice about it, only conformity.

          • Deanjay1961

            You seem to have family, religion, and culture confused with force of law.

      • fnostro

        The same way we allow Hasidim to wear full on black wool suits and fur hats on those same hot days. You not liking the combination of heat, clothing color, or associated male apparel is not what is in question, but whether the French Government should enforce what is effectively an individual choice.

        Also please keep in mind, personally, I completely agree that the burqa is a useless garment in the 21st century. But if you wanted to wear one, for any reason, why should you not be able to wear it?

        When you spoke to the woman, what did she say?

        You know you would likely not even be allowed to approach, and certainly not to speak to her about this. Tell me how you differentiate between free choice and oppression in the Islamic world?

        • AllCanadian Woman

          Please reread the article. France has banned all overt religious symbolism, not just Islam. France is a secular society. We need to respect secularism in this case. Religion does not trump all.

          • fnostro

            The article is not in question. I was responding to the Poll question and how it’s not a simple matter of yes or no.

            While I completely agree with secularism and the separation of church and state there is a broad assumption that 100% of those wearing burqas are doing so under some form of duress. Explain to me why a woman stating she is wearing a non offensive article of clothing by choice should not be allowed to do so simply because others in power find offense in its origin.

            How do you justify the statement Sarkozy made regarding how religion should be respected, then turn around and make illegal the particular garments or jewelry that are part of the religion? It’s hypocritical. It would have been much more sincere had he said religion is not worthy of respect nor any of it’s traditions or symbols.

          • Deanjay1961

            A society that bans religious expression is not a secular one. Political secularism is the ideal that the government be as neutral as possible regarding religion. To the extent a government oppresses religion, to that extent it has departed from secularism.
            And banning religious symbolism in public schools is NOT the same thing as banning a specific religious item on the street. If you think people are not allowed to wear crosses in public in France, you are mistaken.

      • Istenno

        how can you justify denying a woman the freedom to wear whatever she pleases??

      • Deanjay1961

        How can we justify completely taking away her choice in the matter under threat of law?

  • Josh Kutchinsky

    I think the totally blind should be asked how they feel about it! Seriously this is an issue of symbolically protecting the notion of French citizenship as the critical element of personal identity to which all others must be subjugated. The face covering is seen as a political statement, which of course the ban, like all such censorship, succeeds in making it. That many people with very good reason see the burqua as offensive and disgusting etc. etc. and also as a symbol of oppression and so on is understandable but there are many peer pressured dress codes which I find quite disturbing. But I am more offended by the idea of people being told by the police what they can and cannot wear. Of course in France many laws are seen as symbolic and will not be enforced unless the challenge to authority is seen as too
    blatant. Many schoolgirls wear a hijab as it is at the discretion of the headteacher to decide that any article of dress is an excessively religious symbol. Pragmatically and I think this is my main point of concern, it is counter-productive. Notwithstanding that I have ex-Muslim friends and know of other Muslims who strongly support the ban. I believe education and empowerment is a better route.

    • AllCanadian Woman

      France is a secular country with separation of church and state. In

      order for all religions to live in peace, all must be treated equally.
      Otherwise, each will vie for supremacy and create conflict. If you want
      to cover your face and hide your identity in a secular society, you can
      do that in the privacy of your home and in non public places. The
      USA on the other hand has many laws that are religiously based, like the
      supreme court decision to allow the religious feelings of a few to take
      away the rights of individual women to reproductive health care. This,
      under the guise of corporations providing health care. In France and the
      rest of Europe, Canada and Australia, the health of the nation is not
      controlled by corporate interests, but by the people. As I understand
      this issue, covering the face is a cultural issue, not a religious one
      in any case. In my view the USA has perverted the meaning of freedom of religion.

      • Josh Kutchinsky

        In France the Catholic Church and Christianity is favoured, often in subtle ways. I think bans and censorship are most often counter-productive. I support a secular state and separation of church and state, but there are various ways of doing this. I am a pragmatist, so maybe a ban, even though it has also been applauded by the right wing fascists, can help create a harmonious society in France. let’s see. I don’t see a ban happening in the UK in the near future. It definitely won’t happen in the USA.

        • AllCanadian Woman

          I don’t agree with you and I think your reference to the term right wing fascists is a bit over the top. Many, many women support the ban on religious symbolism, it’s not the ultra right wing men that have pushed this forward, it is the general population, especially women and girls who have suffered for centuries in France because of religion. Removing religious symbols from the public sphere is reasonable in terms of the whole of society. When people in authority, teachers, government workers, etc display their religious symbolism in the public sphere, it is intimidating to others. Mostly it is intimidating to women as most religions are deeply misogynist. As a Canadian where women enjoy equal rights in terms of reproductive health, ie, abortion is legal everywhere at any stage and is an issue between a woman and her doctor, I can clearly see how Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, etc. religiously based misogyny colours the political discussion and suppresses gender equality in many countries, especially the USA.

          • Josh Kutchinsky

            All I meant was that this ban is supported by the right wing Front National. I live in France. My village, as do many others, has a sign on public property announcing the time of Mass in the church. The Church rings bells and people are worried at the prospect of a prayer room for Muslims even though nobody is requesting one. Saints days are announced with the weather forecast. Assumption and Ascension day are public holidays as is St Stephen’s Day and Good Friday in the Moselle and the Alsace regions. Culturally this is a very Catholic country notwithstanding Laïcité. I believe that Sarkozy in pushing through this piece of legislation was more concerned with right wing votes than combatting the oppression of women. Although I do not think it actually is relevant to this discussion, I am totally in favour of women having complete control over their sexual and reproductive health. As in Canada, there should be no legislation in respect to abortion.

          • AllCanadian Woman

            Thanks Josh, I feel better. I spent some time living in France too in the early 80s.

          • Elizabeth Van Horn

            This law isn’t about removing displays of religion that is done by the government, is taking away the rights of individuals. It’s taking away the rights of women. The concept of freedom means that we don’t let the whims of the majority override the freedoms of the individual. That’s why we have the Bill of Rights here in the US, as it protects all, from the tyranny of the crowd.

      • Elizabeth Van Horn

        It’s a mostly Catholic nation, and one of the reasons so many people in France have long names is that French baby names used to have to include a Catholic saint’s name! It was mandated by law. The French are way over the top with their tyranny, and have a hard time seeing the concept of “freedom”. This is the pendulum swinging the other way, but no less offensive.

    • pennyroyal

      your remarks are indefensible. The ‘censorship’ you speak of is the burka which censors, hides, humiliates, and demoralizes women who wear it.

      • Josh Kutchinsky

        I can and will defend what I say until you convince me I am wrong to do so. You may well be correct that the burka censors hides and humiliates and demoralises women who wear it. They should be encouraged not to do so through education, through any means, but not coercion. Surely they have had enough of that already.

        • pennyroyal

          France is protecting women who have been exploited by the religion and culture they were born into. Kudos to France for caring about both its citizens but also for the human rights of immigrants to its country. I wouldn’t get away with going to Saudi Arabia and wearing a bikini on the street. That would cultural insensitivity and provocative. So, in like manner, France is saying Muslims that force women to wear the burka are culturally insensitive. It offends the sensibility of the French. When in Rome….

          • Elizabeth Van Horn

            There’s no protection done for women when a patronizing government decides that it can legislate what a woman can wear. That’s stripping away the rights of women, stripping away their autonomy.

            Also, by comparing the French law, to those in an oppressive society like Saudi Arabia, you just made my point for me.

          • pennyroyal

            methinks your logic is a bit flawed on both points….

          • Elizabeth Van Horn

            How so? Explain.

            Also, how dictating what a woman can wear is “protecting” her?

          • pennyroyal

            protecting women from the anti-female extremism of her religion and culture. It goes back to France being a secular country. Think of how France got that way, a patriarchal, hierarchal religion (Catholicism) dominated the country for centuries. They threw that off and vowed, never again would a religion dominate people within its borders. This decision is consistent with that national experience.

            If I go to Saudi Arabia I go as a guest, a traveller, or guest worker. I don’t try to change the culture and religion and violate my host country’s hospitality. I would go as an American and represent my country. The same with Muslim who go to France to work or live. Live by the rules of that country. Don’t expect special treatment. Fit in. Respect the hospitality that was extended to you.

            Instead, if you look at France today. Places where Muslims live are hotbeds of Muslims who are trying to change France. A country has the right to make its own rules. And protecting women who have historically been part of the French modus operandi, protecting girls against FGM.

          • Elizabeth Van Horn

            Hello Penny, First, I don’t think a government banning what women can wear is protecting them. Instead, it’s patronizing them, and undermining the self-determination, and autonomy of the women. Respect for the women, would be allowing them to make clothing decisions themselves, and not have government overlords dictating what a woman can wear.

            From the Wall Street Journal: “The Strasbourg-based court ruled the general
            ban imposed by the government wasn’t justified on public-safety grounds, or to protect women’s rights. But it said France’s aim of improving social cohesion through the ban was legitimate.”

            I was in France in 2006, and there was no noticeable secularization going on. I did have lunch in Paris with a local Parisian, who told me how the immigrants aren’t wanted, and she expressed deeply rooted prejudice against the Muslim immigrants, the West-African immigrants, and others. I was surprised to see quite a broad, and wipe spread prejudice, against ethnic groups other than what is considered “native French”. I think that is the real reason we’re seeing these laws in France, as there’s an undercurrent of prejudice against diversity. So, no I’m not buying it, that the bann is for protection of women, and the bann doesn’t even mention that.

            The court case wasn’t done by a visitor or guest worker, it was by a Muslim woman born in France, she’s a native French woman, and wants to be able to wear what she chooses. She’s as much French as any other person there, and isn’t trying to change the culture; she’s trying to protect her own rights and freedom of choice.

            The Muslim population in France is segregated due to the overwhelming prejudice they faced, not because they’re trying to change the country. Also, all countries undergo change, as life isn’t stagnant, here in the US we’ve changed over the centuries due to our various immigrant populations, and we’re still changing. To control people at such a basic level, to dictate their clothing choices, is tyrannical.

          • Elizabeth Van Horn

            Hello Penny, First, I don’t think a government banning what women can
            wear is protecting them. Instead, it’s patronizing them, and undermining the self-determination, and autonomy of the women. Respect for the women, would be allowing them to make clothing decisions themselves, and not have government overlords dictating what a woman can wear.

            From the Wall Street Journal: “The Strasbourg-based court ruled the general
            ban imposed by the government wasn’t justified on public-safety grounds, or
            to protect women’s rights. But it said France’s aim of improving social
            cohesion through the ban was legitimate.”

            I was in France in 2006, and there was no noticeable secularization going on. I did have lunch in Paris with a local Parisian, who told me how the immigrants aren’t wanted, and she expressed deeply rooted prejudice against the Muslim immigrants, the West-African immigrants, and others. I was surprised to see quite a broad, and wipe spread prejudice, against
            ethnic groups other than what is considered “native French”. I think
            that is the real reason we’re seeing these laws in France, as there’s an
            undercurrent of prejudice against diversity. So, no I’m not buying it,
            that the bann is for protection of women, and the bann doesn’t even
            mention that.

            The court case wasn’t done by a visitor or guest worker, it was by a Muslim woman born in France in 1990, she’s a native French woman, and wants to be able to wear what she chooses. She’s as much French as any other person there, and isn’t trying to change the culture; she’s trying to protect her own rights and freedom of choice.

            The Muslim population in France is segregated due to the overwhelming
            prejudice they faced, not because they’re trying to change the country.
            Also, all countries undergo change, as life isn’t stagnant, here in
            the US we’ve changed over the centuries due to our various immigrant
            populations, and we’re still changing. To control people at such a
            basic level, to dictate their clothing choices, is tyrannical.

          • Josh Kutchinsky

            Are you really suggesting that matching the cultural and human rights sensitivities of Saudia Arabia should be our goal? France makes statements of principle, sometimes through its laws, which are not necessarily to be taken as an indicator for how things actually work out in practice. The police are not walking the streets wielding their batons searching for women in burkas.

          • pennyroyal

            of course not. My point, that seems to elude, is that when you emigrate to another country, follow the norms there. Should we allow Muslims to dictate to American public schools that classes be separated by gender.
            I’m sitting here watching European Journal and how the British are struggling to keep what some call ‘British values” but one advocate calls “Human values.” Just so with France. No burkas are human values. I’ll try to post it.

          • Elizabeth Van Horn

            It seems to elude you that this case isn’t about emigrate rights. It’s about native born French women and their country depriving them of basic autonomy and the freedom to choose their own clothing.

            The US is a country of immigrants, and if you know anything about our US history, then you surely know that immigrants here don’t follow the “norm”. (whatever that is?) Good grief.

          • pennyroyal

            I don’t know what page you are on but this isn’t getting any better. Besides I have a date with a hot brownie and cup of coffee. Have a nice life.

          • Elizabeth Van Horn

            Oh my, so you’re ready to engage in comments, until someone (a woman?) challenges you. *laughs*

            But, the brownie and coffee does sound good…so enjoy : )

          • pennyroyal

            the conversation is going nowhere and I’ve put enough time into it. I don’t find most comments a challenge. I do often find people’s comments reflect rigid thinking or, at the very least, a narrow worldview.

          • Elizabeth Van Horn

            Oy vey! I was thinking that your thinking is rigid, and narrow. Especially since you have been on a misinformation campaign. (writing speculative scenarios, instead of the facts of the case)

          • Elizabeth Van Horn

            But, I think we can both agree on the brownie and coffee.

            *offers Penny an olive branch* : )

          • pennyroyal

            of course, thank you and accepted gratefully :)

          • Elizabeth Van Horn

            Penny, the issue isn’t about going to a tyrannical country like Saudi Arabia, the issue is about France. Also, the women who challenged the ban was a native born French citizen. She wasn’t a visitor, she’s French and wants to be able to have the same freedom to choose her clothing as everyone else in France. Only now, she doesn’t. There’s no “when in Rome” here….it’s about French citizens being deprived of basic human rights.

    • Elizabeth Van Horn

      Well said.

  • Greg Mansfield

    You should also realise that it isn’t a religious requirement. The Qu’ran states (off the top of my head) that women must only dress modestly- the burkha was made to subjugate women 200-300 years ago in highly extreme areas of Islamic dominated countries. It is now in Europe not used in such a way most of the time however it still isn’t necessary. Unless they do something to the Qu’ran such as re-writing it or taking parts out like James the 1st did with the bible to make it an enforced religious garment I think that it should be banned. On another note I don’t think that Hijabs should be banned as it doesn’t cover the majority of the body.

    • pennyroyal

      for most Muslims and most in the US this is so, technically. But you need to be practical. The cultural mandate used to enforced the burka is barbaric and inhuman and as such, France is right to limit the practice in public as something that will not be tolerated within its border. It’s an affront to all women.

      • Greg Mansfield

        Of course but in the same way all religious clothing then could be classed as compulsory wear. I say in my opinion that religion is a waste of time for the government and people and that it has served its purpose through history- I will not act upon it as much as I would want to as people have free rights and their opinion is valued in society even if wrong. To address your point on it being a cultural mandate would be unfair on those who want to wear it, effectively France is using a blacket statement to bring law upon a majority which is no better than discrimination, however necessary it is for is to move on.

  • Cayce

    There is no way I can see the burqa as anything other than a blatant and humiliating form of subjugation of women. That being said, and coming at this as an atheist, feminist American citizen, I don’t agree that laws should be established regarding articles of clothing, or lack thereof. The reasons given for the ban seem like excuses rather than legitimate concerns.

    • AllCanadian Woman

      The ban is only for public places. Anyone can where whatever they want in private spaces. The USA has many religiously based laws that deny women equal rights to health care. One example is the recent supreme court decision to deny women reproductive health care based on the religious feeling of their employers. France is a secular society, like my country Canada. The USA on the other hand does not have separation of church and state. I agree that laws should reflect gender equality, like here in Ontario where any woman can legally go topless any place a man can go topless. That’s equality in dress code, not hiding your identity in public places under the guise of “religious freedom”. It must be very difficult being a feminist in the USA.

      • Avak

        Women can go topless in most states in the USA. There are only three states that have bans against it. It’s just that most women don’t know this, and therefore don’t know to speak up about their rights in this area. But yes, in many ways the USA has regressive laws pertaining to women, particularly when it comes to reproductive health care.

        • Penciljockey

          Even if most women don’t know this I bet police will still detain a woman who’s legally going topless

          • jimlouvier

            They do. They call it indecent exposure.

          • Edward Baker

            Why are breast indecent ?? They are part of the Natural body …

          • jimlouvier

            I’m don’t consider them indecent either, but this country has many laws that are written because of religious beliefs about modesty. The US is one of the most uptight industrialized nations regarding the human body.

          • AllCanadian Woman

            I’m sure glad you don’t live in my country as I find your comment extremely abusive. :)

          • Edward Baker

            Sometimes going topless is Scary thing to see . Imagine 90 year old with breasts to her waist

          • AllCanadian Woman

            Geez, not nearly as scary as the topless men!!

          • AllCanadian Woman

            I’m sure glad I don’t live in your country, where that is. From your post, the police appear to be a law unto themselves.

      • Jacob

        There is a separation of church and state in the U.S. It’s in the constitution. Some states try to bypass it, however. Anyway, the hobby lobby ruling has nothing to do with the separation of church and state. It was about what the government has the right to make an individual do. Hobby lobby is owned by individuals. Religious individuals who don’t want to pay for certain types of healthcare. No business should be forced to pay for someone’s healthcare at all. Switzerland has the best healthcare system in the world and it is completely private and paid for by the individual. The government also doesn’t have the right to tell you what you can wear. It doesn’t have the right to do anything but make sure you don’t hurt someone else. Obviously nanny governments never abide by the natural laws of nature though. I’m an atheist libertarian btw.

        • Edward Baker

          The separation is being Destroyed by Evangelicals and religious extremists . The Establishment clause is in the constitution . The Wall of separation of church and state was mentioned by Jefferson in a letter to someone…..

        • Ravenfall

          Of course the Hobby Lobby decision had to do with the separation of church and state. Health insurance is offered by a company to its employees as part of their compensation package. Hobby Lobby and most corporations *negotiate* with insurance companies to provide a health insurance policy for their employees. The employees usually pay a portion of the premium, while the company pays the bulk of the premium. But, the company pays that portion of the premium as part of compensation to the employee. Offering health insurance began years ago as a way that corporations could pay their employees less but seem to offer them a benefit. The HEALTH INSURANCE company pays for the medications the employees purchase at pharmacies, with the employee usually paying a co-pay. The company does not pay for the prescription directly.Did you not know that??? The individual owners of Hobby Lobby do not have to stand in the hallway outside Human Resources and pass out prescriptions to their employees, mopping the tears off their faces at the poor little blastocysts that won’t implant. The five justices who made this decision are living some antiquated delusion and could not have been more wrong.

          • AllCanadian Woman

            That’s exactly why the USA is not the land of the free. This same supreme court has declared that corporations are “people”. It’s like the Emperor’s New Clothes. When I see all the individual human freedoms being taken away from people in the USA, I wonder when they will come to their senses.

          • Elizabeth Van Horn

            You sure do post a lot of negative comments about the US. Why? I don’t see that it’s your business if you’re in Canada. Also, the Supreme Court was upholding the US First Amendment. It’s ALL about freedom and protecting rights, not about rights being taken away. You clearly have no idea what the US Bill of Rights does.

          • bruzote

            You believe its about freedom? Ha! Funny how SCOTUS will protect those freedoms like insurance, but they say it’s OK to listen in on my phone calls. No it’s not about freedom, it’s about using freedom as an excuse to let powerful people do what they want while they prevent us from doing what we want.

          • Elizabeth Van Horn

            Yes, it’s about freedom. The case is a First Amendment issue. That you don’t understand this tells me that you don’t understand the Bill of Rights. (But,..luckily for you, you can educate yourself on this issue! : )

            I don’t support the NSA (or government agencies) being able to listen to your phone calls. But, that’s not relevant to this issue, so not sure why you brought it up.

            Hmm, I suggest you read a little about the First Amendment. Sheesh

          • rblevy

            Most cogent description of Burwell that I’ve read to date.

        • rblevy

          “It was about what the government has the right to make an individual do. Hobby lobby is owned by individuals” who hide behind the corporation which they have formed as is a separate “person” that protects them from certain liabilities. But then decide they are individuals when it suits their religious whims and endow their corporations with this “faith” and through which they then impose these beliefs on their workers. Wow! Talk about having it both ways.

        • bruzote

          Your logic says the management of huge international corporations have the right not to serve customers different from the ones they like, because they run *private* businesses. How wonderful. Glad to see that private bus lines should be able to tell some people they must sit in the back of the bus. ‘Cause private companies should be free to act terribly.

          • Jacob

            How is forcing someone to pay for something they don’t want to and racism the same thing?

          • Elizabeth Van Horn

            Go read what the First Amendment says, as this is a First Amendment. Also, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (which was how the HL case was decided)

            Also, your made-up scenarios, have nothing to do with the case. (Although it’s interesting to see how many logical fallacies you can trot out)

        • nogodsplease

          Hobby Lobby is a closely held corporation; not an individual. The legal corporate entity shields the owners from personal responsibility for the consequences of corporate actions. It’s too bad it doesn’t shield the employees from the religious oppression of the owners.
          If there are security issues or concerns about oppression in France, they should be addressed in a way that is least restrictive to everyone’s rights. If banning face covering is necessary, then the word “burqa” need not be part of that ban. Social morals can’t be legislated.

      • Elizabeth Van Horn

        Other than Ontario, where can women go topless in Canada? (That’s the only providence where I can find that’s it’s legal.)

        But, there are only 3 out 50 of the US states, where a woman baring her breasts, is considered illegal. (and I nursed two infants, and sometimes in public, in one of those states, and no batted an eye)

        • AllCanadian Woman

          I don’t know about the rest of the provinces but I would guess Ontario would set the precedent for any other province. The issue is about human rights. It’s not so much who is or is not offended by breast feeding or female breasts, it is that our freedom is sanctioned by law. Anyone can think whatever they want, they just can’t harm us. That’s the point.

          • Elizabeth Van Horn

            Perhaps you should google, “women can go topless in Canada?”, so you can see it’s only Ontario, where a woman can do so in Canada. Women’s “freedom” isn’t sanctioned by law, except in one providence.

            Also, google “topfreedom in Canada”, and read the excellent Wikipedia article that cites sources and reference material. I think you’ll be surprised. (and advised, in case you were thinking of going topless all over ; )

            But, I do agree that freedom for a woman to choose what she wishes to wear, or not wear, is a human rights issue. That’s why France banning burqas is a violation of basic human rights. The right for an individual woman to choose what she wishes to wear should not be legislated by government.

          • bruzote

            Fools ignore reality and the patterns it reveals in human history, no? I am a freedom lover, but I know that brain-washed people are not as free as you think, and at some level maybe I don’t care if their ideas imperil lives and civilizations. You (IMO) are dangerously treating their ideas of freedom as if they have no consequence.

            People who are abused and shamed into sharing repressive values (notably starting when they are children) can spread those ideas, and certainly pass them to their own children. When those people have policies of murdering converts, their group will only grow. That’s not an opinion – it is simply math (and world demographics are validating that inescapable match) Granted, the growth might be slow, but they will pick up the desperate and disconnected loners on the fringes of society, slowly building their share of the population. Just like any oppressive regime or religion, when a religion’s share of the populace passes a tipping point, sometimes just a small minority, it becomes dominant. Look at the insane fascism of Germany in WWII. They were a *minority* when their ideas became essentially unstoppable.

            Those who wear burqas are sustaining (to some) and promoting (to others) an ideology that represents the biggest known threat to freedom outside of technology. All the academic ideas in the world don’t change that reality. If you think that freedom to wear a burqa is so purely important over restrictive polices, let’s test that idea against reality of other values like *basic* freedoms. Because – guess what? – in reality freedoms must always be traded off. Freedom from oppression is against freedom to rule. Freedom for businesses to discriminate against blacks or gays based on their values must be traded against the choice (is that really a “freedom”?) to build an equitable society.

            So, go proselytize ALL of your freedom values in Waziristan. I know my imperative doesn’t make my argument any more valid, but doing so would open your eyes to the reality of what is it stake when people in ivory towers ignore reality. See what happens when people fail to fight evil ideas when they still have the power to do so. Visit Waziristan and decide for yourself what “moderate” Islamists might have in store in for the seventh generation that follows you, after you successfully defend laws allowing burqas in public.

            The majority of Westerners can’t stomach the trashing of “freedom” that is involved in fighting a religion. If that religion will make the world a horrible place, those people should stop being single-issue thinkers. I believe, truly, that Islam will take over the world. It will happen. Because most people are weak like you. They feel the need to assuage anxiety (from obsession with consistency) rather than deal with the real-world outcomes of their “consistent” thinking that will lead to *less* freedom.

          • Elizabeth Van Horn

            You’re oblivious very Islamophobic. Also, you’re clueless as to my character, and you’re laughably off-base by calling me “weak”.

            (Why don’t you use your real name to post. I do. As I’m not weak ; )

            That you’re incapable of separating the issue of personal freedom, from your own overwhelming prejudice, tells me that we’ve nothing much to discuss.

          • Greg Mansfield

            In honesty I only read the last part- religion served a purpose now it is dying but refusing to go quietly. All religions have had their extreme moments and will continue to as they become extinct. In a utopian world we would all be the same religion and those who followed it incorrectly would be killed, simple.

          • Greg Mansfield

            However true freedom cannot exist for the humans make the error of greed murder etc, and therefore the world will always have these issues in all civilizations. It has taken us nearly 4000+ years in Egyptian times who used slaves and had a monarchy to go to the 1900′s where we had slaves and a monarchy (England). Throughout history we are condemned to repeat ourselves.

      • AllAmerican Zombie

        The recent Supreme Court decision is very unpopular here in the states – it’s generally accepted that they made the wrong call (though it was 5-4 w/ strong dissenting opinions). Separation of church and state is one of our founding principles and it certainly exists, just not absolutely like it should. The decision was not an attack on women’s health care, it was an attack on abortion. Christians want as many lives as possible, for as long as possible; the harm to women was not directly intended, but a consequence. If condoms, vasectomies, or spermicidal pills were covered by the AFC, HobbyLobby would have rejected those as well in their case. You’re picking a good fight here but it’s not a gender issue, but one of decency.

        • AllCanadian Woman

          Attacking abortion is attacking women’s health care. This is a gender issue. Why are there no restraints on where men put their sperm in the USA? Do you think women have reproductive health issues on their own? Do you think women are morally inferior to men? Is that it? Separation of church and state means exactly that. It’s not about what Christians want or what Muslims want. That’s why it is so important. Decency, indeed. What on earth does that mean? I am so grateful to live in a secular country where women are not treated like second class citizens.

  • Jonathan Stewart

    I’m from the USA and I disapprove of the ban. There are circumstances where a person should be required to remove the veil, such as during a traffic stop to confirm identity (regardless of the gender of the investigating officer), but a total ban is a violation of our established freedoms. We atheists may not approve of several religious practices, but maintaining our freedom from religion also means respecting others’ freedom to practice their religions, so long as those practices don’t hurt anybody else (I’m looking at you, genital mutilation).

    • AllCanadian Woman

      France is a secular country with separation of church and state. In
      order for all religions to live in peace, all must be treated equally.
      Otherwise, each will vie for supremacy and create conflict. If you want
      to cover your face and hide your identity in a secular society, you can
      do that in the privacy of your home and in non public places. The
      USA on the other hand has many laws that are religiously based, like the
      supreme court decision to allow the religious feelings of a few to take
      away the rights of individual women to reproductive health care. This,
      under the guise of corporations providing health care. In France and the
      rest of Europe, Canada and Australia, the health of the nation is not
      controlled by corporate interests, but by the people. As I understand
      this issue, covering the face is a cultural issue, not a religious one
      in any case. In my view the USA has perverted the meaning of freedom of religion.

      • Jonathan Stewart

        I agree about the latest Supreme Court case here with Hobby Lobby. It’s unfathomable in my mind. But it’s a red herring with regards to the burqa ban in France. As you mention, all religions should be treated equally. So if burqas can be banned as repugnant, then why not a Sikh’s beard? Or a Jew’s? Or a Muslim’s? Is it because they’re men? All right, why not ban the practice of enforced celibacy in convents? After all, sexual freedom is a tenet of a free society? If we’re going to treat all religions the same, banning practices we find repugnant or oppressive, the list is pretty long and the slope pretty slippery . . . and it leads to being forced to adopt the religious principles of the majority.

        • AllCanadian Woman

          France has banned religious symbolism and that includes all religions. It is about public spaces. The USA, state by state has many restrictions on women’s reproduction, all religiously based. Unlike the USA, France is secular. From the outside looking in, it appears Christianity is the religion of the USA. Perhaps your views could be coloured by the US experience.

          • Jonathan Stewart

            I thought this discussion thread was about France, not USA. Sure we have our problems here, but we do our best to keep the Christians from claiming our country. It’s a battle that is not always won, as evidenced by the latest SCOTUS decision, but the basic idea is freedom of religion equals freedom from religion. To ban a (non-damaging) religious practice is tantamount to making one compulsory. If France has banned all public expression of any religion, they’ve sure made a secret of it. We’re talking France, not the USSR here.

          • AllCanadian Woman

            It is about France and secularism. I just think you are missing the point. Please reread the article and you find it is symbols of all religions, not just Islam.

          • pennyroyal

            prove to me it’s not damaging… read my post above and reply to my objections.

          • David Kimball

            The reason the USA is being discusses is the practice of analogy. If we do this here and justify it in the US, then by analogy, it should be justified also in France. And we do have many limitations on behavior in society. We do not allow child brides, or polygamy, or animal sacrifices in our society. These prohibitions are not for religious reasons but because the government, both in the US and also in France, has a right to pass laws that will create a particular culture of behavior that it feels is best for that society. And just as an American citizen would be required to abide by the laws and customs in Saudi Arabia, so people from other cultures are required to abide by our laws and cultural customs.

        • pennyroyal

          simple logic would lead one to not conflate a beard with wearing a burka. No one is telling Muslims to ‘adopt the religious principles of the majority’ except in Muslim countries. France is a secular country. Their churches are empty. They are fed up with religious strictures from earlier times. Certainly they have had plenty of experience with religious strictures and can recognize them now in the burka.

        • Elizabeth Van Horn

          Exactly,…and why not nuns habits? They’re similar. I find any prohibition of an individuals dress by government to be a violation of human rights.

        • David Kimball

          This is a cultural issue more than a religious issue. A government has a right to pass laws which will shape and form a particular culture. Just like we don’t allow child brides like some customs do, such a believer must obey our laws especially when they are for the good of society and not dealing with any religious reasons. A person is free to believe whatever they want, but they must behave in public according to the government and culture of the country.

    • pennyroyal

      I am an atheist and I disapprove. And your statement of ‘so long as those practices don’t hurt anybody else’ needs rethinking. For one reason, infants don’t get the skin to skin contact that they needs. Infants have huge needs for touch and get great comfort from that. For another, a woman in the hot sun covered in a black canvas tent is imprisoned in there and it’s hot. You go try it, cover yourself in layers of black (during Ramadan when you can’t eat or drink from sun up to sun down) and you will experience harm.

    • David Kimball

      This is a cultural issue more than a religious issue. A government has a right to pass laws to define its own culture. And those living there have a responsibility to live accordingly – just as we would if we were in Saudi Arabia. People have the right to believe what they want to believe, but they have the responsibility to behave in society according to the laws and culture of the land.

  • Merilyn Jackson

    There is ample reason for women to wear the full burqa in countries where men cannot control their lust and where they will be beaten or stoned to death if they appear in public without it. But clearly it is not a universal Muslim law that women must be masked and therefore when Muslim women are in countries where they are not obliged, under penalty of death, to wear a full face mask they should not wear one. They also need to respect Western cultures when visiting or emigrating and they must understand that it is a primal need of humans meeting other humans to see the face of the other before us. We need to see if it is a friend or foe. Also it is very uncomfortable for Western women to see other women imprisoned like this. It feels like a threat to our own freedom. Is that a reason the burqa should be banned? No. But Islamic women who wear them in Western countries when they are not under penalty of harsh punishment need to understand that. Why are Westerners the only people who need to be sensitive?

    • pennyroyal

      “men cannot control their lust”???
      of course, men can control their lust.
      That’s just the excuse the patriarchs use.

      • Merilyn Jackson

        Are you at all talking about men in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia or here? the reason for the burqa is so that women will not entice men sexually, so obviously the “patriarchs” do not believe men in their countries can control their lust. And if you are well-informed, you know you see examples of that everyday.

        • Cayce

          If a man attacks a woman for not wearing a burqa, that’s rape, and saying it’s her fault because she wasn’t covered up is a disgusting excuse on behalf of the rapist. It’s rape no matter where you live. It’s rape no matter what you wear. It’s rape no matter what your religion. And it’s rape no matter the culture.

        • AllCanadian Woman

          My goodness gracious, we all know women are lusty too! :) Lust indeed!

        • pennyroyal

          Men are responsible for controlling sexual urges and do so in. Only in more benighted countries are they given permission to act on their impulses. It’s a war against women and rape culture you need to look at, my dear. Self control should be part of the behavioral tool kit of every adult person.

      • atir

        A full Burqa to prevent sexual incontinence of Muslim man? Why not consent masturbation where and whenever they can’t control their lust…..

        • AllCanadian Woman

          Haha! As normal lusty women, we know it is about power and control and the subjugation of women. :)

    • queue517

      You’re assuming that a woman who has spent her entire adult life covered for modesty will feel great walking around in a Western country in shorts and a tank top with some random guy cat calling her on the street. Did it ever occur to you that some of these women feel better about themselves and/or safer covered up, even when the law doesn’t require it? Men lust everywhere and can be jerks about it everywhere. As for the “primal need of humans…to see the face of the other before us,” I would argue eye contact is *very* important, but sunglasses are a-ok! So are hats, scarves, etc. You picked *one type* of facial covering and decided it was bad, not because it prevents you from telling if a person is friend or foe (how exactly does a face tell you that anyway?) but because you disagree with the religious principles behind it.

      • AllCanadian Woman

        You must live in the USA. France is a secular democracy, unlike the USA.

  • pennyroyal

    I support France in its ban. It’s drawing the line and saying, No, this doesn’t belong here.

    • David Kimball

      Right. France has a right to determine its own culture regardless of the religious beliefs of people. People are free to believe as they want, but they must behave as the government wants in defining culture. Just like here in the US, we do not allow Voodoo worshippers to sacrifice goats and chickens, nor do we allow Mormons or Muslims to practice polygamy. But these prohibitions are made to define our culture and have no basis of religious background at all. (No, monogamy is not a religious issue as it is not taught or practiced in the Bible.)

      • Elizabeth Van Horn

        I think Vooddoo people should be allowed to sacrifice animals. Why not? We kill animals to eat them, so I see no difference. I also think that anyone should be allowed to practice polygamy, and be able to marry as many, or whoever, they like. (as long as all are consenting adults) Freedom to do as we wish, as long as no harm is done. (the goats and chickens can’t vote ; )

        So, of course, I think that women in the entire world should be free to wear, or not wear, what they wish. : )

        • bruzote

          Elizabeth, you don’t care much for the consequences of policies you support, do you? Would you be willing to fight in the ground wars that result when countries with polygamy develop a statistically significant minority of angry, single, easily-manipulated men who are led to war? So many of those men would no longer be peacable after being unable to find a wife. If you will not suffer from such wars, why promote a policy that leads to it?

          That is what happens when polygamy is allowed. It only takes a small percentage of men to fall into that trap. Seriously, it is *well* known that tolerance of polygamy (and other things like dowries) reduces the number of pacified men and it has seriously destabilizing effects on civilization. The freedom to go to hell in a hand basket sounds all very well, until you live there.

          The Middle East is completely screwed up, and some of that is due to social and government policies that make it hard for young men to get married. They end up angry, easily manipulated, and the rest of the country gets dragged with them.

          I would LOVE the benefits of polygamy.I would definitely get multiple wives. But I would not want to live in the country that results from allowing polygamy.

          • Elizabeth Van Horn

            Bru, of course I’d like the results of the policies I support. That you have your own imagined draconian dystopian future, that’s inside your head, doesn’t change my stance on policies.

            Polygamy has nothing to do with religion. It’s a state of multiple persons (consenting adults) agreeing to be married. It’s not limited to men marrying multiple women. Women could have multiple husbands. Group marriages (probably the best case scenario) could also occur, whereby there are multiple men and multiple women in a group marriage. (Or, all men, all women, or however they choose) Marriage is for the purpose of protecting property, children, and legal status. There’s nothing inherently religious about it, and it should be wholly open to anyone who wishes to engage as such, in any manner they wish.

            This has nothing to do with the Middle East.

            I love to have polygamy made legal in the US. We’d see amazing co-ops arise that started as group marriages. : )

  • http://www.RandallReynoldsDesign.com/ Randall Reynolds

    It’s a security issue and the burqa represents the enslavement and repression of women.

    • matthewespenshade

      No, telling women what they can and can’t do is enslavement and repression of women.

      • Elizabeth Van Horn

        Yup, exactly.

      • http://www.jbrophy.com John Brophy

        Agreed.

        • oisdogibsdkgjb

          And I suppose that putting a serial killer in prison is enslavement and repression too? No, because for some things that seem bad, the alternative is even more dangerous. You guys have your hearts in the right place, but it’s like you’re standing outside a prison fence on a sunny day and remarking to an inmate in the yard how nice it is to be outside. It’s a disservice to the subjugation of millions.

    • Elizabeth Van Horn

      I consider it a violation of my rights, for a government to legislate
      what I can, or cannot wear. It’s not a security issue, that’s nonsense.
      Millions of Asian people wear flu masks all the time in public, in the
      winter we wear ski masks, scarfs, head coverings, etc. No one seems
      worried about security then, so if the argument is using “security” as
      the excuse, I’d say they’re doing racial and ethic profiling, which is
      wrong.

      • van helsing

        I don’t see your face covered with a burka so speak for yourself woman. You don’t know half of the suppressions those poor women go thru.

        • Elizabeth Van Horn

          That’s right *Van Helsing, I have freedom, and it’s because I do, that I’m able to advocate for the freedom of others. I want ALL women to have the same freedoms that I have. To be free from a tyrannical government that will micro-manage their lives and dictate what they cannot wear. You probably have the same freedoms I have…right? You probably don’t have a government telling *you* that you cannot wear your chosen clothing when you go outside your house.

          Also, cut the patronizing BS, with the “those poor women” shtick. The woman who challenged the ban is a native born French woman, aged 24, and she spoke for herself and said that she wants to be able to wear her burqa and that no one makes her do so.

          Did you read the details of the case? It’s about assimilation and anti-diversity. Not about protecting women, and it’s certainly not about allowing women freedom to choose, or to have autonomy.

          (*If you’re the real vampire hunter ; )

          • Marilyn

            It’s weird to compare a burka to a clothes. It is much more a symbol… a symbol of what? Submission, inferiority and… (sorry for the unfortunate comparison) it remind me of Eve holding the Apple for Adam to sin, the temptress theory of the woman send by the Devil to counter God’s plans. It’s nothing to do with freedom. It’s enslavement (oisdogibsdkgjb) and propaganda.

          • Elizabeth Van Horn

            Is it weird to compare a hat to clothes? Is it weird to compare sunglasses to clothes? It doesn’t even matter if it’s clothing. It’s her body. Her choice. Someone else doesn’t get to decide what that women wears. Neither you, nor anyone else, has the right to tell that woman what she can do with her own body.

            How you managed to completely reverse the reality here, and use words like “enslavement” and “propaganda”, when it means the free exercise of a woman’s choice…is irrational. Denying the choice of the individual, is closer to enslavement. (What you want to do) Although, neither classifies, and you’ve must muddied the waters with hyperbole.

            (How feminist *aren’t* rallying to support “choice” in this incident, when it’s a clear case of of a woman’s “choice”, is mind boggling)

          • Marilyn

            I understand that a State legislating to have the integral veil forbidden in public
            areas on its territory can be shocking. Future will tell if it was rather a good measure or not.

            I think, for the sake of the debate, that we cannot talk about “free choice”. I rather believe that you see “wearing an integral veil in public areas” as a private matter,
            and the debate should be this: is it a private matter or not?

            But you cannot don’t see the difference between hats, sunglasses (swimsuit was missing) and an integral veil. At least, you will not convince me on this.

          • nogodsplease

            I think you may be overlooking the fact that we all give up freedoms in favor of living in a society. None of us have absolute freedom over what we do with our bbodies. We trade that for security and other benefits of societal community. We defer to the courts to interpret the rules for us. The courts need to reflect the culture while protecting the rights of the minority. It’s certainly not as cut and dried as you want it to be.

          • Elizabeth Van Horn

            What freedom do you give up, so that your government can tell you what to wear when you leave the house? I’m curious, as to how you’d feel if you were told that you *had* to wear a burqa when you leave the house. (like women in Saudi Arabia) Would you feel that’s an acceptable level of government intrusion into your life, if you live in a free western nation?

            What if the daily clothes you chose to wear, were suddenly forbidden?
            Do you think you’d still feel like you live in a free society?

            Because, dictating that a woman, of her own free will, *cannot* wear her burqa is the same level of intrusion.

            The courts in this case admitted that *security* wasn’t the reason for their ruling. They also admitted that the reason was for the purpose of forcing anti-diversity. Do you think that’s an acceptable reason for the government to dictate what a free adult woman can or cannot wear outside her home?

          • nogodsplease

            I think you also may be overstating the “freedom” of choice most muslim women have in the matter. The one woman directly involved in the case has stated that she wears the burqa because she wants to, but to generalized that kind of choice to all women who wear the burqa may be quite a leap, especially in light of what we know about Islamic law. The one woman’s freedom must be weighed against the overall public good. The harm to those many more women who suffer under the subjugation enforced by religion in general, and more specifically by Islam more contemporarily, should be taken into account.

          • Elizabeth Van Horn

            I think to generalize that all women who wear the burqa are being forced is quite a leap. Society should create laws due to speculation. If there are clear cases of a woman being “forced” to do things against her will, then that can be handled on an individual basis. As that would be a basics rights situation.

            France is an intolerant society. They don’t like immigrants, or diversity. That’s what the law is about.

            I live in the US, and such a law would never be passed here, as we believe in diversity and personal autonomy.

          • nogodsplease

            so you choose to ignore the authoritarian and misogynistic nature of religions in general, and Islam in particular? This is not about intolerance of diversity. This is about intolerance of the subjugation of women.
            I dare say there are a lot of people in the US who would back such a bill. I agree it would probably not pass constitutional muster, but with the ultra-right controlling interests running the SCOTUS these days, who knows?

          • Elizabeth Van Horn

            I’m an atheist. But, if other people choose to be part of an authoritarian and/or misogynistic group, that’s their choice.

            Did you read the article? France doesn’t want diversity or autonomy. They’ve
            banned the “Islamic head scarf and any other religious symbols such as Jewish skullcaps and large crosses in schools.” When I was in France (and in Paris in particular you see this) there was obvious and outfight spoken prejudice against west-African, Asians, and non-native French merchants. It’s rampant. The prejudice.

            This a quote:

            “The court decided overwhelmingly that the ban be regarded as a
            legitimate way to preserve the conditions of “living together” and
            accepted that the barrier raised by the full-face veil, completely
            concealing the face, was breaching the right of others to live in a
            space of socialization, therefore making “living together” more
            difficult.”

            It’s forced socialization. This has nothing to do with security, and everything to do with an authoritarian government. (Which, ironically, you cited that as a bad quality ; )

            It’s one thing for people to be part of private groups that are authoritarian, as they make the decision. But, this is the government doing it. (I’d also argue that the law is misogynistic, as it targets women’s freedom of choice)

          • nogodsplease

            I’m happy to yield you the last word. But in my mind anything that discourages a religious practice is a good thing.

          • Elizabeth Van Horn

            Also, if you think that none of us have ‘”absolute freedom over what we do with our bodies”…..then do you support the “right-to-life” anti-abortion movement? As, they don’t want women to have freedom over their bodies.

          • The Mouse

            Because if it doesn’t negatively affect well-off professional career White Women, then why bother? That’s why feminists are hands off on this issue.

  • Kittymut

    I think the full face veils and burqas are symbols of oppression of women. However, I am concerned about the ban because it requires women, who may have never been in public with their face exposed, to now expose their face. This may make them very uncomfortable in public. While the ban has a very good intent, it can also be seen as another way to subjugate women by forcing them to show something that is uncomfortable. Anytime we decide for another person how they should dress, we are limiting their freedoms. This is a ban, a law and not an option. I agree with other posters here that the solution can be achieved with more education and cultural openness.

    • NoCrossNoCrescent

      And the rest of us can also be very uncomfortable knowing the next person on the bus could be a serial killer, either male or female.

      • percussaresurgo

        I support the ban, but I don’t see how you could tell someone is a serial killer just by looking at their face. Most serial killers appear quite normal.

        • AllCanadian Woman

          My goodness gracious! The law is not just about Islam but all religious symbols. It isn’t about seeing the faces of serial killers, it is about freedom from religion and secularism.

          • percussaresurgo

            Yes, I know, but that’s irrelevant to what I said.

          • AllCanadian Woman

            I agree with you, most serial killers appear quite normal. Violence is violence anywhere, anyplace. I hope your day is filled with love and laughter, and peace. :)

          • Elizabeth Van Horn

            I see no need to oppress other people to have my own freedom. That’s what this is doing. When another woman doesn’t have the right to choose to dress how she wishes, then I also lose freedom, as freedom for all, is freedom for me.

            I also don’t need to ban or suppress the religious expression of others, for myself to be free from religion. I simply have no religion, and no interest in one, but I wish to have that same level of freedom for all, so I don’t want to take away the rights of others. That’s why we have the First Amendment in the US, to protect the rights of individuals from the mob.

        • NoCrossNoCrescent

          Correct. But there are also those whose pictures are being circulated by the police. They literally can’t show their face in public-hence they are the ones who stand to lose from the ban.

  • audisqus

    If there were no security issue involved, it would be a clear cut case in my opinion: no ban.

    But since there is a security issue, I can understand it. Yet at the same time it’s hard to gauge how much of a risk it actually poses (i.e. how much criminals/terrorists could take advantage of it), and I think that government should institute the fewest laws necessary to protect us.

    So I vote against the ban, but just barely.

  • MichaelFarese

    I think it’s awesome… I love that the French government doesn’t have to kowtow to every crazy cultural practice just because someone hides behind religion. Religion should not be a blanket excuse to do whatever one wants and I am really sort of wishing that I could live in a secular society like this.

    • James Earl Adams III

      Secularism is great, but so is freedom. You should be able to have both.

  • Jen

    In many Islamic countries Western, non-Muslim women are required to wear the veil, and are fined or punished if they do not; they have to respect and comply to the cultural norms of the host country. This law/ban makes sense then, as what France is requiring is that these women comply and respect the cultural norms of its secular state.

    • queue517

      Yes, let’s use Islamic countries (and not, say, our own moral values) as a guide for the kinds of laws we write. Besides, I thought the cultural norms of the US and Europe were to be inclusive?

      • David Kimball

        We in the US do the same. We do not allow Muslims and Mormons to practice polygamy – not because of any religious precepts, but rather to create a certain culture. Just like we do not allow Voodoo worshippers to sacrifice goats and chickens. People are free to believe what they want, but they must behave according to the government and society in which they live.

    • duranie

      @Jen I agree. Yes I love how France is so strong with having respect for their country and saying if you want to live here then you better respect our western way of living and laws..These muslim obusive countries make women wear that crap when they visit there, so then you take it off when you come to our country, respect our wishes. Go France!

      • David Kimball

        Jen and Duranie. Yes, A country has a right to determine the domain of its own culture. This is not a religious issue as much as it is a cultural issue. And just as in the US, we require people to obey our cultural laws and norms (such as no child brides), France has that right also. People are free to believe as they want, however they must behave according to the laws and culture of the society where they live.

  • Running Beard

    This is not a “fashion” issue.
    This is about assimilation and citizenship, and the willingness to adjust to your host countries culture, just as that host country showed a willingness to accommodate you.

    Even if the burqa was not a tool to subjugate women, which IT IS of course, it doesn’t mean one can go “in disguise” with a burqa on, and walk into a bank for example, anymore than I can walk into a bank with a ski mask on.

  • Bill Ferro

    Yup.

  • Bill Ferro

    Government has a compelling interest in being able to see the faces of the public; so do other citizens.

  • queue517

    This is a slippery slope. Sure, some women are being oppressed and forced to wear face coverings, but some *want to* due to personally held beliefs. The argument against that statement always has something to do with brainwashing and a male-dominated society, but that same argument can be made about all women’s clothing. We are an image conscious society in which women are pressured to look and dress a certain way. How is it any different? Should we make it illegal to wear short skirts and knee-high boots because the underlying pressure (whether acknowledged or not) is male control of the female image exerted by a society that hinges female self-esteem on looks and sex appeal? What needs to change is social attitudes; making laws against clothing isn’t going to do anything but make a bunch of women feel crappy about themselves and *actually* inhibit religious and/or personal freedom. That face covering isn’t hurting you. And let’s be honest, this is really due to worldwide anti-Muslim feelings.

    • AllCanadian Woman

      Clearly women in secular societies have more opportunities and more
      freedom than any other forms of government. This cartoon is not relevant to this issue but rather a gross perversion of the meaning of
      secularism. The French law bans all overt religious symbolism in their
      country, not just Islam. This cartoon is not relevant to the
      discussion and serves to perpetuate myths about women and equality. Shame on you!

  • Guest

    Comic that sums up my ramblings.

    • AllCanadian Woman

      Clearly women in secular societies have more opportunities and more freedom than any other forms of government. This cartoon is not relevent to this issue but rather a gross perversion of the meaning of secularism. The French law bans all overt religious symbolism in their country, not just Islam. This cartoon is not relevant to the discussion.

      • Elizabeth Van Horn

        That person didn’t say the cartoon was relevant, they said it sums up their ramblings. Plus, it’s funny. *smiles*

  • Penciljockey

    I think the women will actually secretly be happy about it.

  • Roger Mills

    Is it possible that some cultures/religions are both victims and perpetrators of ancient policies/beliefs from a time that now need to be recognized as barbaric? Gender should not determine your role in life.

  • Sarah Stravinska

    I see identity as the main problem.

  • Daniel Langdon

    I am amazed at the number of people that think the government should tell you what you can and cannot wear. So much for freedom of choice

    • David Kimball

      No freedom is complete freedom to do what one wants. Even freedom of speech has restrictions when it is for the good of society. We don’t even have complete freedom to own bombs, tanks, crossbows, and other firearms. The issue is never complete freedom vs complete denial. This is an issue to be determined on a spectrum. Since government has a right to promote a particular culture, it has the right to limit the behavior of people when in public. Just like we do not allow sacrificing animals in public even if it is the beliefs of Voodoo worshippers.

      People have the freedom to believe what they want, but not the freedom to behave when interacting within society.

      • Elizabeth Van Horn

        To compare the wearing of clothing, to having our own bombs, is hyperbolic nonsense.

        The issue is one of basic human rights, and France has sided with tyranny, instead of freedom. Sad.

    • bruzote

      Should a town full of white, heterosexual libertarians be allowed to wear shirts bearing calls for the murder of the only gay, black Jew in town? If you think so, you are foolishly ignoring the realities of the consequences of one’s choices. If they were allowed to do that, eventually people would murder that person. That’s human nature, born out by not just my own observations over my lifetime, but the history recorded over millennia.

      • Elizabeth Van Horn

        So, how many made-up scare tactics do you have? Do you have a false ridiculous scenario for everything?

        Maybe try arguing from the point of logic, and not nonsense.

  • sswaan

    I think it’s sad that so many people with little to no knowledge about Islam, nor about Muslim women, can make such blanket statements about what they believe a piece of clothing must mean to the women who wear it.

    I am a lifelong secular humanist, but having done doctoral research with Muslim women and knowing many as close friends, I can say that I have never heard a Muslim woman describe any form of veiling (even the face veil or “niqab” – which is what I assume Sarkozy means by “burqa”) as a form of oppression, but as a personal choice. Respecting Muslim women means listening to what they have to say about their own lives and choices. Assuming that you know better is insulting.

    Preventing women from wearing the a veil outside of the home is actually what oppresses women, because it makes it harder for those who choose to veil to go out in public.

    If you’re concerned about the oppression and subjugation of women, then
    you should look within your own societies and communities (for example, here in the U.S., women still make 70% of what men do, and sexual assault is epidemic) and avoid
    condemning something you don’t understand.

    • Elizabeth Van Horn

      Thank you for writing this, as it sums up *exactly* the issue, and it’s one of respect, along with freedom. (for women)

  • Veronica

    A great example of doing something that is right for the wrong reasons.

  • Raymond Barrett

    I fail to see how *forbidding* a woman to wear something is morally superior to *forcing* her to wear something. And I can’t believe so many people are okay with this. I think a *secular* government should remain neutral, not try to control the thoughts of the population by forcing their beliefs into a deep, dark, closet.

    • Elizabeth Van Horn

      Yes, exactly.

  • Elizabeth Van Horn

    So, France supports freedom for women, by dictating what they can wear?! Doubleplus ungood!

  • lowfiron

    The burqa is just clothing, why ban it? That is interfering with personal freedom. The assumption is a person wearing this garb is they are oppressed. That’s an assumption unless you can verify that there is coercion. Here in the U.S. we are free to practice religion, culture or wear what we like if it does not harm. It’s in the Constitution.

  • Edward Baker

    Halloween is in October , If they want to scare people ,that is when they should were them …..

    • Elizabeth Van Horn

      That’s just it, people DO wear face coverings all the time in public. Masks, scarves, helmets, surgical masks, etc. No cares about that. So, this is a very selective prejudice ruling that is singling out Muslim *women* and is based on anti-diversity and ethnic predjuice.

  • John Pennington

    I agree that no government should be held hostage to any religious law. However, if they want to wear burkas that’s fine. Covering the face? No way. That’s like walking into 7-11 with a ski-mask.

    • Elizabeth Van Horn

      You should be able to walk around in public wearing a mask! Plus, people do it, and no one cares in the US, and in France, but they conveniently overlook that for this control freak issue of trying to tell the Muslim women what they cannot wear.

      People routinely wear surgical masks in public when sick also ski masks and head scarves that
      cover both head and face in winter. People undergoing chemo often wear head covering, sunglasses and face masks (as they’re immune compromised) People riding motorcycles wear face mask, head coverings, and eye coverings. Kids and adults wear masks at Halloween, Mardi Gras, street parties, and for protests. (I could go on!) So, the ban is complete BS, and does nothing to make the society safer, but instead is patronizing, profiling, and a fear reaction to diversity.

  • mmm

    I don’t think it is right to subjugate women in the name of religion.

    • Deanjay1961

      Is it right to subjugate them in the name of liberating them?

      • pennyroyal

        this is so in your eyes only — broaden your perspective

        • Deanjay1961

          Speaking of eyes, you seem to have a beam in yours.

  • Cassandra

    I get stopped all the time because of various replaced body parts on account of a car accident. Though I don’t wear a burka, which I see entirely as a security concern and not as discrimination, I am forced to stand aside and wait for a female attendant or go through the Xray machine. I carry a card From my surgeon, but they don’t care. Why would someone wearing a burka expect to be exempted from searches given the horrid and violent times we live in?

    • Elizabeth Van Horn

      I don’t think anyone wearing a burqa expects to be exempt from searches? That hasn’t anything to do with the case.

    • Deanjay1961

      They were never exempt from searches.

  • Mea

    So France decides FOR the woman that it’s a sign of subjugation and procedes to force her to expose herself even though she says it is NOT subjugation. And that’s respecting women? It sounds like just the exact same kind of deciding for women “who can’t think for themselves” thing we hear from so many of the backward Muslims… and Christians. ..How is it different?

    They should have stuck to the security thing, it’s a much better argument. This just makes then look just as misogynistic as the men they feel so superior to.

    You know, not everyone has to think like us… just sayin’.

    • pasapdub@gmail.com

      Don’t you think the security issue is important? Are you willing to allow people in public areas the ”right” to fully mask their identity? How do you think you’d proceed if YOU were a terrorist? I can guarantee that putting on a burka to hide your gender AND your weapons would be a fine way to do it.

      • Elizabeth Van Horn

        The court stated that security wasn’t the reason, and that it wasn’t justified on those grounds. It’s about assimilation, as France is fearful of diversity.

      • Deanjay1961

        If it’s important, it’s not just important for Muslim women. It doesn’t make sense to ban the burqha for security, but allow ski masks, floppy hats and sunglasses, Halloween masks, and so forth.

  • pasapdub@gmail.com

    If you see someone enter your bank in a face mask, what do you think? The idea of concealing one’s identity in public is directly designed to remove the person from awareness, and that engenders fear and suspicion. Finally, considering how many incidents of ”terror” the French have had to experience, I fully understand and support the ban on ANYTHING which hides identity.

    • Elizabeth Van Horn

      You wrote: “I fully understand and support the ban on ANYTHING which hides identity.”

      Yet, you post under an alias.

      • pasapdub@gmail.com

        Thanks everso, Elizabeth. Since that was my first post here (this being the second) I didn’t realize how to sign up. How kind of you to point it out. And you’ll excuse my bafflement at not seeing the connection between wearing a burka in France and posting on a message board.

        • Elizabeth Van Horn

          My comment was in direct reply to your comment. You wrote: “Finally, considering how many incidents of ”terror” the French have had to experience, I fully understand and support the ban on ANYTHING which hides identity.”

          “ANYTHING”. You capped it. Anonymous posting is hiding an identity.

          (As for your actual post, first time and all….you did great : )

          • pasapdub@gmail.com

            We were talking about women who walk around in veils and body bags. I’m not walking around in public wearing a face mask, am I? Posters on most message boards use pseudonyms because the world is full of people who will SPAM you, or worse.

          • Elizabeth Van Horn

            You don’t have much respect for the women who choose to wear a burqa do you? (you refer to “veils and body bags?!)

            But, you should be able to walk around in public wearing a mask! Plus, people do it, and no one cares in the US, and in France, but they conveniently overlook that for this control freak issue of trying to tell the Muslim women what they cannot wear.

            People routinely wear surgical masks in public when sick also ski masks and head scarves that cover both head and face in winter. People undergoing chemo often wear head covering, sunglasses and face masks (as they’re immune compromised) People riding motorcycles wear face mask, head coverings, and eye coverings. Kids and adults wear masks at Halloween, Mardi Gras, street parties, and for protests. (I could go on!) So, the ban is complete BS, and does nothing to make the society safer, but instead is patronizing, profiling, and a fear reaction to diversity.

            Also, the reason people use pseudonyms on message boards is so they can HIDE! who they are. As for spam, no one here can spam me, as they can’t see my *email, or other info. Most message boards also have built in spam filters, so your proclaimed reason is nonsense.

            (*Ironically, you’re the one person here that *could* be spammed as you’ve used an email that is publicly seen, although it’s probably a throw-a-way one. But, you might want to look into changing your handle that is seen here, just in case)

          • pasapdub@gmail.com

            Aren’t YOU just the sweetest little cupcake on the platter? I’m done.

          • Elizabeth Van Horn

            Okie Dokie.

    • Deanjay1961

      Sigh. You already can’t hide your face in a bank.

  • Vince Quackenbush

    If The veil , in any form was voluntary, it would be no skin off my nose. But I don’t believe IT EVER IS.

  • squeak

    I don’t think banning a garment is the way to go. The objective is to get people to reject it on their own. If I got the urge to wear a burka, or anything else, I reserve the right to do so.

    • pennyroyal

      I think it’s hard for westerners to fully grasp the depth of the mind control if Muslim women, even in France. Their religious leaders and male family members insist she wear it. With the law on her side, yes, she may be in the middle, but at least she can say she has to obey the law. That’s how we have a civil society, obeying reasonable laws. And this one IS reasonable, IMO.

      • Elizabeth Van Horn

        I disagree. It’s VERY unreasonable to dictate what someone can wear, when it’s causing no harm to others. It’s also very disrespectful and patronizing, and dehumanizing to take away a woman’s autonomy. I think it’s hard for you to grasp that there ARE Muslim women who have freedom, and choose this manner of dress, and it’s disrespectful to denigrate their choices.

        • pennyroyal

          in your world there is no such thing as indoctrination? no mind control? no social and religious traditions so deeply engrained that the individual woman accedes to her own silencing and oppression? Seems that the woman in the carefully constructed test case is not the only one with blinders on. Read Vince, below.

          • Elizabeth Van Horn

            Penny,

            1) It’s not governments job to meddle into social issues like personal choices, religion, clubs, associations, etc.

            2) Whether individuals have been indoctrinated is also not relevant.

            3) One cannot assume that all women within a group have been forced to do something, especially when they’re speaking up and saying that it’s their own free choice. (I think it’s doing a huge disservice to women to not respect their choices, even if it’s one that we would not make)

            4) You don’t know the woman who protest with the test case, so why would you automatically discount her? (Sheesh, talk about not respecting women)

            5) I don’t see a “Vince” below, and I scrolled to the bottom of the page.

            6) I’m against using government to manipulate, coerce, or indoctrinate, which is what this case is attempting to do. (Why is indoctrination ok, if one agrees with it, but wrong if one disagrees?) It’s up to the individuals to decide, and when we default to allowing government to dictate the details of our lives, we no longer in a free society.

  • David Kimball

    I recently talked to a leader of the Students for a Secular Society and only then realized that there are two types of Secularists – one trying to remove all religious influence from government, and the other trying to remove all religious influence from society. I fully identify with the first one but not the second group. I feel that religion can still be a part of society when it is used as a metaphor and when it is a part of a culture.

    However, in this case, France has a right to define its own culture. And this should apply for all of society so it should be for whenever people are out with other people. Because the claimant felt that the following four points were being violated, Article 8) right to respect for private and family life; Article 9) freedom of thought, conscience, and religion; Article 10) freedom of expression; and Article 14) prohibition of discrimination, she felt compelled to bring the suit.

    But if you look at each of these four points, you see that she was not being prohibited within her home or houses of worship. The prohibition was only when she was socializing – that is, was interacting with the rest of society which included many more people than were within her belief system. She could still wear whatever she felt was necessary when she was not mingling or interacting in society.

    A country’s governance has the right to dictate the realm of its culture and that would include the wearing of clothing that would create a security risk or other aspects of that country’s culture. We do that a great deal here in the US. We do not allow followers of Voodoo to sacrifice chickens and goats in public. Now do we allow Muslims or Mormons to practice polygamy. These prohibitions have nothing to do with the religious purposes of the United States government but rather because of how the US has defined our culture.

    Followers of religions may have the right to believe whatever they want, but they do not have the right to behave or practice their beliefs when it is contrary to the local government or the culture of that society.

    • pennyroyal

      look up European Journal program for this week. It has a segment called Operation “Trojan Horse” which shows a public school in Birmingham England which is mostly Muslim and has been taken over by Muslim ideologues and insists that the sexes be separated and other policies that most of the British would find appalling. In other words this is a concerted effort in Europe to Islamicize Europe.

      I tried to post it here but the moderator didn’t take it, apparently.

      • David Kimball

        Pennyroyal – Thanks for this note. I know that while Sweden, Norway, and even France and other countries have tried to set up their government as secular countries, Great Britain has not. And as a result, Great Britain has had a great many problems trying to balance allowances for religions and secularism. When the only religion in Great Britain was the Anglican religion, and since the Anglican religion mirrored or actually established the culture of Great Britain, this was seldom a problem. But now that Great Britain is also trying to accommodate other religions, especially Islam, which has their own set of laws and culture, Great Britain is having a great deal of trouble. Great Britain, like France in this article, would do best by insisting on defining its own culture and not trying to accommodate to any religions.

        Religion and government doesn’t work: In Iraq, In Great Britain, nor in the United/Divided States.

        • pennyroyal

          Extremist Muslims (not all, some want to fit in) think Europeans are weak morally and need Muslim rigor. Just like many fundamentalist groups, they can use and our policies of acceptance and diversity against us. I certainly dislike the right wingers in the US who make laws against any Muslim group trying to set up Sharia Law in the US and spreading paranoia, you are right Great Britain has to be careful.

          France has the right to determine what is acceptable in their borders. Extending hospitality to immigrants is not a blanket ‘gift’ and limits are always needed. The USA succeeded as long as we had not established church and no one denomination has dominated since then. But our own homegrown fundamentalists are a danger to our democracy. Most US voters don’t realize how close that danger is.

      • Elizabeth Van Horn

        Penny, it’s probably the spam filter here is the reason we can’t post links. I know I’ve tried to post some too, and they just don’t work. I even sent a message to the website people here (I got no response). I suspect there is no actual “moderator”, other than some snippet of code that auto-rejects links.

      • Deanjay1961

        That would be ruled unConstitutional in America. Only private schools can institute religious preferences, legally.

    • Deanjay1961

      So it’s people’s governments that have the right to determine their culture rather than the people themselves? That seems like a suspect arrangement. We don’t allow public sacrifices for health reasons. Banning polygamy based on the cultural preferences of government officials is itself a wrong that will eventually be righted. ‘Because in my opinion the culture should be such-and-such’ is not a valid reason to pass a law in a supposedly free country.

  • paddicakes

    I think it should be illegal to cover your face in any public building any where in the world especially banks, airports, government buildings of any kind. It is just a safety issue, if a guy were to dress in a burka he could have bombs and guns stored under his clothing ( as could a women). Their religion only says they have to dress modestly not like a ninja.

    • Deanjay1961

      Sigh. Banks and airports and government buildings can already require people to show their faces, both in France and the USA.

  • Raymond Barrett

    So, this is a security issue? Okay. How many terrorists have been seen, ever, anywhere in the world, dressed as Muslim women? Is this really a thing?

    And this has nothing to do with banks. A *business* can forbid the wearing of masks, etc., on their premises. That is a genuine security concern, because banks get robbed by people wearing masks.

    A *government* saying you can’t wear a veil, or a cross, outside your home is an attempt to control the thoughts of the population.

    • pennyroyal

      it’s easy enough to look this up yourself. In fact Muslim women have been involved in terrorist activities. Don’t assume.

      • Elizabeth Van Horn

        Yes, don’t assume. You’re “assuming” that the 24 year old native born French woman who challenged the ban, isn’t able to make her own decisions.

  • http://www.jbrophy.com John Brophy

    I can see where they are coming from. But enforcing a particular dress code only on women is something I find troubling. And even though it may be a symbol of subjugation in the west, I would bet that most women who grew up wearing it don’t think so. They probably think they are being good Muslims by wearing it, and being forced not to wear it would make them feel naked in public. That’s a whole other issue, though.

    I agree that the burqa is something that should never have been invented in the first place, but here we are. I think the best thing is to just leave these women alone and encourage them to make the change away from it on their own by continuing the march toward a fully secular future. And in the meantime, they should be required to show their faces whenever security cameras are present, and anywhere their identity needs to be confirmed.

  • Kim

    A burqa can cover a body strapped with explosives..not to mention it says women aren’t worthy enough to be seen..burqas were required by MEN.. They’re the ones that made their women cover up-even their faces..because they think women are worthless …they treat women worse than dogs..it’s totally oppressive…and banning burqas is no worse than banning total nudity…nobody needs to be walking around naked and nobody needs to be covered like they’re invisible either…they’re both extremes

    • Elizabeth Van Horn

      The case was brought to the courts by a French born woman, age 24 yrs, who has clearly stated that wearing the burqa is her choice, and not anything that’s forced. She’s wishing to have autonomy and freedom, the same way *you* do when you get dressed to go places.

      Anyone can carry explosives, to imply that a French Muslim woman is more likely, is expressing prejudice. Also, the From the Wall Street Journal:

      “The Strasbourg-based court ruled the general ban
      imposed by the government wasn’t justified on public-safety grounds, or
      to protect women’s rights. But it said France’s aim of improving social
      cohesion through the ban was legitimate.”

      So, the bann wasn’t done for security reasons and the court stated that the bann wasn’t justified on those grounds. It’s all about assimilation, as the French are anti-diversity. (basically, it’s about prejudice)

      • pennyroyal

        So she’s the ‘poster child’ for this test case, carefully chosen for her willingness to knuckle-under to a religious/polical/theocratic system that seeks to preserve the privileges of patriarchy. Ask her in another 24 years and ask her then. Bet the scales have fallen from her eyes.

        • Elizabeth Van Horn

          Wow. You have no respect for a brave young woman who you’ve never met of ever talked to. You “assume” all manner of negative things about her.

          I think she’s fully aware, and has made her own decision. I also think that for people to take others at less then full value, at less then what they present to the world, is wrong. (Unless there’s compelling evidence of that particular person’s situation, which there is none)

          To assume that another human being is not capable of making their own choice?! To assume that another *woman* is incapable of making her own choices? Why would you do that? Would you like that done to you?

  • Phil Rounds

    I really wanted to vote “yes” on this. I consider the forced or coercive wearing of veils and burqas to be abusive to women and a violation of womens’ rights. But there are likely women who wear them because they wish to. To ban those women from wearing the clothing they choose would be infringement of minority rights, which i wouldn’t approve of.

    • Phil Rounds

      I wonder. Would i be allowed to have a “Darwinfish” sticker on my car in France? Or openly display the Humanist symbol?

  • Steve

    Lets work toward banning of coercion itself, not outlaw a specific act or appearance that may or might not be coerced.

    • pennyroyal

      Coercion and consent are elusive and subjective things. The French legal system is being IMO, objective. If you go out in public in Europe, go outside your home or apartment so you can be recognized and known. Why else do we go in public but to be part of a community.

      • Deanjay1961

        Maybe you have errands to run? I hardly ever go outside my home in order to be recognized and known. I just have stuff to do.

        • pennyroyal

          Your experience are your experiences.
          You can extrapolate from one person to all Muslim women.

          • Deanjay1961

            Some things can be extrapolated, most things can’t. You can conclude from one person that all Muslim women are mammals. You can’t reasonably conclude that if one Muslim woman is being forced to wear a burqa against her will, they all are.
            And it’s simply a fact that one can cover one’s face in France, as long as it’s not a burqa. The ban is an expression of cultural dominance, and there’s not much more to it than that.

          • pennyroyal

            what is the sound of one tongue flapping and no one willing to listen. Your views are wrong but since your mind is set, nothing I say here will get through.

          • Elizabeth Van Horn

            This from the person who wrote:

            “I have my own well thought out, tested worldview. I’ve heard enough of yours.”

            Oh, the supreme irony!

          • Deanjay1961

            Is unconscious irony your specialty?

  • Dave Rotheson

    freedom is freedom. if your society cant handle a fully burqaed female, then that says a lot about the maturity of your society, and thats it. period. especially coming from a country that has pushed the boundaries of the fashion industry for a century. apparently you guys dont understand when you are just being a stupid bully

    • pennyroyal

      are you saying the French are immature, and bullies? We have bullying here of females by our right-wingers who don’t want women to have either access to abortion but also birth control. Mature, civil, governments allow women full access to their rights, the right not to suffocate in a canvas tent in the hot sun.

      • Elizabeth Van Horn

        Mature, civil, governments allow women the right to choose their own clothing, and don’t act as tyrannical dictators. You’re mistaking the right to not do something (which the women of France already have) with the right to do something.

        Penny, anyone tell you what to wear when you get dressed to go out into society? Does you government tell you what you cannot wear? I’ll bet you’d not like it.

        As for abortion and birth control, both are readily available in the US.

        • pennyroyal

          no one is choosing women’s clothing except the religious zealots who rule the family dictatorship. There’s your tyranny. Seems as if you have it backwards.

          • Elizabeth Van Horn

            Did you read the woman who challenged the case Penny? She explicitly stated that she wears her burqa of her own free will. That no one makes her wear it.

            I’m astounded that you have so little respect for these women, that you find it acceptable to have a patronizing government dictate (for their prejudice agenda of anti-diversity!) what they cannot wear.

            You deciding that *you* know what’s best for people, people that you’ve never met, never talked to, and you clearly don’t respect.

          • pennyroyal

            oh, and you believe it’s that simple? that she wasn’t carefully
            chosen to best represent the extremist Muslim position? People can say they are acting on their own recognizance who really are not.
            France is within it’s right and you have not proven that it is dictatorial or prejudiced or anti-diversity or disrespecting Muslim women.

            Do you really think I disrespect the plaintiff? Lots of assumptions being made here that are ungrounded.

            Go look up “European Journal” Birmingham, England Muslim schools and you will see a larger scope of how Muslims have already taken control of a public school and run it to fit their religion. I tried to post it but it never ran, as far as I can see. It’s on PBS in the US.

          • Elizabeth Van Horn

            Penny, the actual court ruling stated that the reason for the ban was not security. It also stated that the reason was for “assimilation”. I also know from being in France and talking to French people that many are very prejudiced and anti-diversity. The French that I talked to were VERY prejudiced against Muslims and West-Africans. (this was both in Paris and out and about in the country)

            As for assumptions, I think you’re making quite a lot, as you reject the notion that adult women in France should be able to choose their own clothing! The *reason* you reject that notion is that you’re *assuming*, that these women don’t have the ability to decide for themselves. (Which makes no sense that one would then default to the government to decide for them?!)

            I’ve already seen the articles on how some Muslims are trying to spread their way of life. (your link probably fell victim to the spam filter here) But, anyone and everyone, should be able to advocate for the spread of their way of life. I know I do. You do. We both do, as were here on the humanist site. It’s human nature. So, what people *should* be doing, is offering viable options to a lifestyle they dislike, not try to ban it.

          • Deanjay1961

            It’s already illegal to force an adult to wear particular clothing against their will.

  • Charlie

    If I go to a Country where it is mandatory to cover my face and body.
    I would have to do it..that is their dress code.
    So when they come to my Country. I expect the same respect .
    On what grounds does a Woman cover Herself from head to toe?
    Who is going to look at Her.. why is She covering Herself.
    For Her Husband.. it is strange that in Cairo in the 60′s Women dressed in shorts and it was
    like any other City in Europe .Now even in Australia in the searing heat . They are wearing the full Buga.
    If I walk into a Bank I am not allowed to wear a Helmet.
    We had a case here , when a Policeman pulled over Woman and asked Her to remove the Veil.
    So He could identify Her and check her Licence.
    She cried foul and abuse.
    Lucky for the Policeman the Video was running from His Police Car.
    It went to Court. As She thought She was above the Law.
    Imagine if I was in a Arab State and the same happened. I wasn’t wearing the Veil?
    Come on that is in their Country..come to another Country (no one forced them)>
    You live by the Laws of that Country. That includes the Dress code.

    • Elizabeth Van Horn

      Charlie, there’s no “dress code” for either the US or France. Or, most free nations of the world! So, whatever you’re going on about…makes no sense.

      • pennyroyal

        Perhaps it is you who make no sense. I’m sure Charlie means the informal dress ‘code’ or norms, even if he doesn’t say it. Why you insist some women should be set up for humiliation and an utter inability to connect with others, I do not know.

        • Elizabeth Van Horn

          Penny, there is no dress code, or norms. France is a diverse population, with a diverse manner of dress, despite the efforts of the current xenophobic people in charge.

          Also, the burqa is doing the opposite of what you claim. It’s the clothing that these women feel comfortable in, when going in public, they don’t feel humiliation. It should be their choice.

          • pennyroyal

            Xenophobia is exemplified by the rebarbative wingnuts on our southwestern border. Telling women to dress in a canvas tent is bringing the xenophobia from your homeland and shoving it in the face of the French. They don’t feel humiliation, did you ask them all….in private….without their husband and imam telling them what to say.

          • Elizabeth Van Horn

            Of course the French are being xenophobic. Just Google the words: “french xenophobia”. You’ll find recent headlines like, “Poll finds xenophobia on the rise in France”, and “Racism and xenophobia on the rise in France, report”. That’s what this is all about, it’s anti-diversity, xenophobic behavior.

          • pennyroyal

            the xenophobes on the US Southwest border are just that, xenophobes. I’m not saying the French and I can google just about any two words and find connections. Your ‘anti-diversity’ comment is ludicrous on the face of it. This is a gender specific religious constraint put upon women, solely to keep them docile, out of the public eye, 2nd class citizens, beholden to their husbands and the imams. It’s religious discrimination by Islam and an expression of patriarchy.

            “Patriarchy is the religion of the planet.” That’s their purpose. All religions exist to hold women back and keep them as servants of men. Anyone with a brain can see that.

          • Elizabeth Van Horn

            Here’s more words you can Google. “surveys of french racism”

            You are Googling this info…right? ; )

          • pennyroyal

            I am capable of googling, yes. But not under your directive. I have my own well thought out, tested worldview. I’ve heard enough of yours.

    • pennyroyal

      I’ve been saying and have been attacked for it, Hope you have a better response. To me it’s a logical comment. The country you immigrate to provides hospitality to you and your family. Why would you want to try go against the norms in that country??

      • Deanjay1961

        Maybe you’re under the impression that the country you’re going to has religious freedom.

        • pennyroyal

          read Charlie, 14 days ago.

          • Deanjay1961

            I did. Your comment would have been nearly meaningless without Charlie’s post to give it context. If you have a problem responding to replies to your question in your own words, perhaps you shouldn’t have asked the question in the first place.

      • Elizabeth Van Horn

        Oh, good grief, no one attacked you. Stop with the hyperbole. People have disagreed with you, and you have lobbed back with an unpleasant attitude.

        You posted:” I have my own well thought out, tested worldview. I’ve heard enough of yours.” ….*to* me.

        If you don’t like hearing the opinions of others, then why are you posting all over the place? You see Penny, in a FREE SOCIETY other people have opinions too.

      • Elizabeth Van Horn

        The woman in the case wasn’t an immigrate, she’s native born French.

    • Deanjay1961

      Free countries allow a wide variety of clothing. Banks already refuse service to people who have their faces covered for any reason. A special anti-burqa law isn’t required to enforce people revealing their faces to law enforcement officials on demand.

      • pennyroyal

        arguing for diversity is ludicrous. It’s not an issue of diversity.

        • Deanjay1961

          You’re right, it’s not an issue of diversity, thus that’s not what I’m arguing. It’s a civil rights issue.

  • upcycler

    The 215 comments that this article has generated are very similar to public opinions in France and Belgium where the bans are in place. I’ll admit I was shocked when the ban went into place here in Belgium, not because I couldn’t see the ‘secular society’ nor ‘security concern’ angles, but because I cannot believe that any peoples in the 21st century still want to dictate what a woman wears.

  • Scott

    Although there may be women who do prefer to wear the face veil, others are probably wearing it due to religious and cultural pressures. This ban will provide an opportunity for this latter group to live free to their own conscience. The question is, do we turn a blind eye to religious and cultural norms that in turn invalidate individual human rights that are protected by the resident countries laws?? Do we allow women to be forced to wear a face veil, or allow genital mutilation, by respecting religious freedom over individual human rights issues??
    I think the French government was correct in highlighting the effect this has on other French citizens. Socially, a veiled person, is a barrier to open interaction. Security issues are also relavant. Unidentifyable people as a norm in our society provides a cover for those who would use that anonymity to cause harm.

    • Deanjay1961

      It’s already illegal to force anyone to wear a veil against their will in France (and most other places).

      If security issues were the concern, all face coverings should have been banned, not just Muslim ones. Pretty much every concern raised could have been addressed by a law requiring people to reveal their faces to law enforcement on demand and the already-existing right of private property owners to require facial visibility, such as in banks.

  • Top Tips!

    It is interesting in 2014 that people think they are being liberated by covering themselves (head to toe). If you read the Koran veiling which meant a veils/curtain was used by the prophet Mohammed to create a divide between Mohammed and the men who refused to leave his house when they had come to his wedding and overstayed their welcome. It was God who suggested the veil and this has then been interpreted differently. Mohammed’s wives then went on to wear veils to cover their face as there were many male visitors to Mohammed’s home. Veiling has been a practice throughout religions but going forward legislation has recognised equality and has developed laws to enable equal rights! Veiling is a step in the wrong direction as far as ‘human rights’ and the need for integration is concerned. Religion formulated the cornerstones of how law was to be developed and the judicial system is taking this forward on the behalf of everyone irrespective of age, colour, sex etc. People need to learn to ‘live together’ and stop creating a divide by using ‘historic event’. They are in the past and we need to look to the future……

  • Mick

    I see a lot of this discussion was 30r4 months ago! I wonder if some of these political correct do gooders still feel the same, in light of recent evens in Iraq and Syria.I say just ban the friging things outside of the middle east world wide.