Tuesday, 14 June 2011

France's ban of the Burka - right or wrong?

So Sarkozy has finally done it... he has finally banned the wearing of the burka BUT only in public spaces. Well thank God for that caveat; I'm sure Muslim women are over the moon by this; they can wear what they want in the comfort of their own homes. How lovely. His generosity shows no boundaries.

What annoys me is the reasons behind the ban. It seems Sarko's warped reasoning stems from a warped belief inside his warped mind that Muslim women who wear the burka must be oppressed. This is supported with Fadela Amara, the Algerian-born former housing minister in Sarkozy’s government, calling the burka “a kind of tomb, a horror for those trapped within it”, and AndrĂ© Gerin, the Communist MP who headed the commission investigating the grounds for a ban, describing it as “the tip of an iceberg of oppression”. I concede, in some Islamic cultures, this is probably the case but does that mean it is completely justified in violating every other burka wearer's right to freedom of religion? How can such a narrow minded view of something so important to Muslims be enough to justify this ban? With a society who is most definitely moving with the times, it can safely be assumed that most Muslims that wear any form of Islamic clothing are doing it out of choice. A choice that has been influenced purely by their upbringing and their interpretation of their religion. Calling a person's upbringing "oppressive" or even "indoctrinating" is an unfair assumption to make. After all, we are all victims of what society believes to be wrong or right; pretty or ugly; smart or thick. For example, it is a popular assumption that if you are fat, you are ugly but if you are slim, you are pretty. Yet, this is not always the case. Is it then fair for Sarko to ban chocolate because it is causing fat people to become oppressed in their coats of extra insulation? (Honestly? I am not even sure myself if that last sentence makes sense). The point I am trying to make is why on earth are France trying to control the way people live? Isn't that in itself oppressive?

It seems rather absurd, also, that a girl or guy can walk down the street pretty much naked and apart from a few rolling of the eyes from the older generation and a couple of wolf whistles from some creepy people, this is perfectly "normal" and regarded as nothing to shout home about (unless they're hot). However, suddenly, when a woman walks down the street covered modestly because she feels no need to show her body to anyone other than to whom it matters, that woman apparently, in her mind, is shouting "Help! help!!! .. I am trapped inside what appears to be a black post box that I put on myself this morning" *rolls eyes*. What is to say that the women who walks down the street half naked is not oppressed by the traditions and acceptances of society? Just because society accepts something does not make it "acceptable" to everyone. What has to be had regard for is that everyone has their own belief system and whilst it may be influenced by certain aspects of their lives; upbringings etc, it does not justify Sarko jumping the gun and assuming that a person's upbringing is oppressive just because it is different to that of the "norm".

As brilliantly put by John Stuart Mill:
"If all of Mankind minus one were of one opinion, Mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one man, than he, if he had the power, would be in silencing all Mankind".
And we can't silence the minority just because they are different, how else would we have got anywhere without being different? People were happy with Rice Krispies, then a genius came along and added chocolate ergo without difference we would not have Coco Pops!
I can't see this ban succeeding for long, however, according to William Langley, Sarko's "brave step" is both popular and right. This is worrying... but I have faith in the intelligence of non - ignorant people.

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