The French Ban on Niqab and Burqas: An Exercise in Empathy
Today, in France, I could get arrested if I decided to grab a really pretty scarf and, since it’s cold and windy (let’s suppose) I wrapped it around my head and covered most of my face with it for good measure.
France has enacted a law that bans the naqib and burqa, and any other “full length face covering headgear” in public, and the law goes into effect today.
To be honest, I suspect strongly that if I suddenly won a trip to France and did decide to wear the scarf I described above, any policeman who heard my clearly American accent and bad French, and saw my blond hair, would politely ask me to unwrap the scarf a bit and move on to a juicier target-- because this law isn't about me. This law is another example (as if we needed more in the last few years) of a law being passed to prevent a problem that doesn’t exist.
According to the New York Times, less than 2,000 women in France wear either the niqab or the burqa, which cover the face. (More wear the hijab or chador, which covers the head but does not cover the face, or do not cover their heads at all). France has a Muslim minority of 5 to 6 million, which puts the percentage of that population affected at 0.04%. And when I was searching for information for this post, I was unable to find a reference to a single incidence of violence that could be traced to this “problem”.
So why pass this law? Fear. Irrational fear, at that. Your average working class or middle class Muslim woman from a traditional household is not putting on niqab or burqa to go bomb the train station, she’s going out to get groceries, or visit her friends, or take her children to the park, or go to work. Just like you or me.
Let’s play a game of empathy for a moment. Lets suppose, just for a second, that the country you live in has determined that wearing a bra poses a threat to security, if you’re a woman. Sure, you say those are breasts in that bra, but for all we know, you could have C-4 explosive ready to go on both sides.Continued on the next page