Weighing in: Niqabs in France

From the Slate article http://www.slate.com/id/2253493

I was just reading this Hitchens article (about banning niqab veils in France) and I wanted to comment but why create a login when I can just write my response here. It seems Hitchens supports banning veiled burqas for a few great reasons, equality being one of them.  I read the article and I found it most interesting, but there was something still irking me.

Although I agree that face-covering naqibs are ridiculous and oppressive, I don’t necessarily agree with banning them. Here’s why:

1. The argument is STILL about what women should (and, in this case, shouldn’t) wear — it’s a discussion that displaces the problem, instead of solves it.

2. Banning something doesn’t change minds, it just changes behaviours. If you want conversion (which I personally would prefer), legislation is not the answer. I believe that education and open dialogue is.
(p.s. I also think ALL religious people need to consider this in their own political activism, especially North American Christians)

3. I see an arrogance in the argument because it dismisses those women who actually choose to wear it. By saying “they’re not liberated enough to know any better” undermines a woman’s ability to self-reflect. While I am guilty of this very thought pattern, I am still critical of it. It’s an easy trap to fall into and, applied elsewhere, has significant implications.



3 thoughts on “Weighing in: Niqabs in France

  1. From my previous work experience in Afghan Arts organization, i learned a lot about that culture and people and one of the things i learned (and i was surprised since as many i thought women cover their faces because they have to do so) is that women who keep wearing burqas while living in the West, do that mostly because of their own decision and not family/community pressure. I guess they are not comfortable showing their face after years of covering it. So yes,I completely agree with you that banning burqas will not resolve anything, it will only create more anger and resistance.

  2. interesting point. i find it strange that a debate that ought to be about freedom of choice turns into creating legislation that essentially removes that freedom. how ridiculous is it to even consider creating something akin to a civil dress code in a democratic and free society? furthermore, i am a woman who has made some conservative and traditional choices in my life (ie. taking my husband’s name, opting to be a stay at home mom) out of a personal preference. i can empathize with how very insulting it is when people assume i must not know any better and am therefore incapable of making choices for myself. might i suggest that attitude is far more oppressive and sexist than the traditions i chose freely?

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