Watch out it’s the fashion police!

I didn’t intend to write about politics when I started this blog, I fully intended to stick to topics revolving around science. However this weeks activity in France where the burqa has now been banned have incensed me. For those of you who haven’t heard the French ban on wearing the burqa came into force today, now any woman found wearing the burqa will be subjected to a 150 Euro fine and mandatory attendance at a “re-education” meeting. I despise this law; it’s invasive, immoral and totally misguided at best. But what I despise more than this is the reaction some people have had. Here is some of the worst…

“If people want to live in our country they should abide by our culture!”

This statement strongly implies that all burqa wearing muslim women are immigrants who want nothing more than to segregate themselves from the rest of the country. Aside from this being spurious at best whose culture are we talking about? And is this about culture or fashion? I lived in Brighton for many years and have seen people wearing everything and often, nothing. In fact during my first week in Brighton I witnessed a very old man wearing an old man cap, shirt and tie, waistcoat, hot pants, red tights and knee length leather boots. This is not an anomaly! It is common in Brighton to witness odd clashes of fashion and style completely at odds with other norms in Britain such as hoodies and jeans, is this an example of Brighton not abiding by “our” culture? Why is it that if something is different or not native in origin that it should be shunned until it integrates (an Orwellian word that actually means conforms)? One news article went so far as to suggest that all muslim women who do not wear burqas are ‘moderates’ implying that those who do wear the burqa are extremist. At what point did it become acceptable in Europe to consider anyone who dresses or acts differently as extremest? If a selection of Europeans started painting their faces because of cultural reasons why should that not also be banned?

“You shouldn’t be allowed to cover your face in public”

Once a year this child is oppressed into covering it's face. Ban Ghosts

So we are going to ban hoodies, masks and helmets now are we? I accept that in some cases you should have to show your face (i.e. when engaging in an activity which requires ID) but why the hell is it the governments business if I show my face or not? As a matter of fact why is it anyone’s business what I wear?  When celebs are hounded by paparazzi and cover their face should we arrest them? Should faces no longer be blurred out on TV?

“Muslim women are oppressed”

The issue of women being oppressed is a strong one however ordering women not to wear a burqa is hardly a step forward especially as I have yet to see any evidence that the majority of burqa wearers do so under male instruction. I have a friend whose girlfriend tells him what and what not to wear. It’s ridiculous that a man of 22 can be ordered around and told which shirt he is allowed and not allowed to buy, should we ban shirts then? Tackling one small symptom is never going to get rid of the disease.

In addition I find it hard to see why there is a belief that here in Europe our culture doesn’t oppress women by demanding what they can and cannot wear. Our TV bombards us with programs featuring normal women who are then taken by some Guri, told they are doing it wrong and reborn with make-up, surgery and new clothes. Are you any more liberated if going out in jeans and a jumper results in sneers and odd looks from those dressed in less fabric than a small hanky? Anyone who believes that women in Europe can walk down the street wearing whatever they like without fear of judgement needs to get their head checked.

There’s a lot more to be said on this issue that I’m not going into now. All the arguments for banning the burqa are veiled attempts at forcing out Islam under the guise of liberation and integration. I can’t help feel that this is a bad time for our free world when the liberties that we fought to obtain are the ones we are now invoking to justify interference and oppression of our citizens. I, as a free European citizen should be allowed to wear whatever the hell I please and that freedom should be universal. What kind of world are we creating when we say it’s ok for government to pass laws over specific people like this? Is this not another example of what Niemöller warned against?


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  1. #1 by Belinda on April 11, 2011 - 12:20 pm

    Couldn’t agree more. The fact that they have to bring in this law for the sake of <2000 people who actually wear the veil speaks volumes. It's naive to think that there are no women forced to wear Burkhas, however it's ignorant to assume that every woman that is wearing one is doing so because a man has decided that she should.

    Equally, how can the West claim to be liberated when at the back of every women's magazine (which is full of articles on how to attract and keep your man) there is page after page of plastic surgery adverts, while the whole second half of the magazine is full of make up tips and adverts, because showing your bare face in public is a cardinal sin. No man would want you as you are, women of the world, because you are WORTHLESS and not good enough.

    Has nobody ever thought that it's possible that the veil actually enables people to know one-another for who they actually are, rather than how they look?There is also a certain elegance to a woman that doesn't have her arse hanging out or her bra on show.

    Muslim marriages have a much lower rate of divorce. A cynic might say that this is because women are not allowed to leave their husbands. Actually, this isn't true. Women can leave their husbands if they are not fulfilling their duties (there is actually a list – including a satisfying sex life), and the husband must support them for a further 3 months after the divorce. They are also free to re-marry. How many Catholics stay together even though they hate each other? Anyway I'm going off-point.

    The irony is that Muslims embody the quiet conservative nature that most Daily Mail readers strive for, and yet ignorance prevents them from connecting the dots to realising this.

    • #2 by ryanbegleyonline on April 11, 2011 - 1:08 pm

      That’s so true. Our society forces people to fufill roles deemed to be the ‘ideal’, how many women leave the house without make-up? How would they feel if the government butted into their lives banning make up? It’s a joke

  2. #3 by Claire on April 11, 2011 - 12:54 pm

    I wonder how many women will move out of the country.

    • #4 by ryanbegleyonline on April 11, 2011 - 1:09 pm

      Theres only a few thousand burqa wearers in France, I’d be interested to know how many more women wear one after this. If I was French I would go about wearing one as a statement

  3. #5 by Will on April 11, 2011 - 7:23 pm

    Damn, there goes my chance of being a ninja in France.

  4. #6 by Tarek on April 11, 2011 - 7:40 pm

    I know a few girls who wear burqa. None of them were forced to wear it, quite the contrary they wear it out of resentment of the expectation that girls must “dress to impress”. They are far stronger characters than I’d consider myself to be and I’ve had many conversations about why they choose to wear the veil. One friend of mine told me she wears it because to her “looks aren’t very important” and this is her way of “keeping true to herself”.

    It may come as a surprise to know that very few of them wear it due to so called “religous obligation”.

    Disappointing news from France. I sure hope we don’t go the same way.

  5. #7 by Dan Clarke on April 21, 2011 - 1:50 am

    Unquestionably, the ‘burqa ban’ is neither progressive, nor desirable. However, to argue that it represents cultural oppression, places an unhelpful spin on the issue. It implies a misunderstanding of the broader context.

    The French demarcation of religion and the state is a deeply embedded principle (laicite) and extends beyond Islam, to Christianity et al. Certainly, application of this is most controversial when it pertains to Muslims – for example, l’affaire du foulard – but, this is true of most modern political controversies (in the West, at least).

    In fact, one may argue that the French have indeed made unprecedented concessions to Islam, in respect of laicite (relatively more so than to the Christian population that outnumbers them). For example, Sarkozy’s creation of the Conseil Francais du Culte Musulman and the funding of mosques tend to affirm this.

    As evidenced by l’affaire du foulard, the ‘burqa’ issue is a particularly sensitive one in France, not least because it has often been placed in the context of schools. As such, to demonise the French for this action, without at least paying lip-service to the wider issues from which it stemmed, is perhaps a little unfair.

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