A Question of Modesty: Banning the Burqa


While America upholds freedom of religion, France is yet another European country in what is becoming a trend towards eradicating Islam, its principles, and the rights of its followers to practice their faith freely without fear of repercussions.


What is now  known as the “burqa ban” will become law on April 11. French Prime Minister Francois Fillan will see to it that the approximately 2,000 or so Muslim women do not have a choice in donning the face covering known as niqab in any place deemed public domain as defined by government officials. The burqa is a one piece garment that covers the contours of awoman’s body from head to toe; it has a detachable niqab that covers the face, with the exception of the eyes, and it promotes modesty and morality in its wearer. Its colors vary according to culture and preference of the women in different geographical areas.


The French National Assembly, Senate, and Constitutional Council have given their stamp of approval to this blatant violation of religious freedom, a law that government officials claim is for the protection of those women whom, they say, have been forced to cover their faces.  On the other handthe same law subjects those who choose to wear the niqab  to excessive fines,jail time, and has publicly solicited its citizens to do their civic duty in reporting those who are in violation.


Over the coming weeks, advertisements along with hundreds-of-thousands of pamphlets and handbills will be distributed citing ways to “handle potential violators”  leaving these womensubject to the whims of zealots and vigilantes. The law displays clear ignorance of Islamic culture claiming to allow the niqab to women in their homes, however, women do not wear niqabs in their homes as there is no need.


Fines for violators range from community service and/or $190. If anyone is found having requested his family to wear the  niqab, he will face a fine of $41,904 along with a year in prison, and $83,818 with two years imprisonment, respectively, according to some sources.


Many critics believe that this is yet another chapter in France’s continued history of anti-Islamic and anti-immigrations practices, now disguised as concern and help for the ‘oppressed Muslim woman’, yet the law serves to further oppress them by stripping them of the human rights bestowed by Almighty God.


One has to wonder why the law that is focused, for now, on any form of face-covering is misnamed after the loose fitting garment – the burqaHow long will law-makers be content with just seeing the Muslim woman’s face? Will her unwillingness to be immodestly dressed become their next focus for stripping her of  religious rights guaranteed by law?  They force their biased definition of religious freedom in the guise of “helping the oppressed”, not accepting or understanding the unwillingness on the part of the Muslim women to abandon Islamic coverings.


By contrast, US President Barack Obama expressed his views on the issue last year when he stated America would “not tell anyone what to wear.”

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The  religious  pluralism  found  in  America  is  scarce  in  some  European   countries  where  controversy  surrounding  Islamic  dress  is  spreading.   In  the  Netherlands,  above,  Muslim  youth  wearing  niqab  and  jilbaab   (overgarments)  are  harassed  by  women  bearing  television  cameras.