Thursday, May 14, 2020

In Your Face Hypocrisy in France?

What we call "the news" can be a hodgepodge of the bad, the ugly, and a smattering of good which is often presented as though it's all of equal value. Skilled presenters can move deftly from item to item and if your brain is like mine (God protect you) I can receive what I hear passively and often catching the absurdity of certain stories only after they fly by.

This morning I heard on the radio that in France citizens are required by law or edict to wear masks in public to help address the transmission of COVID-19. Then the newsworthy part of the story that Muslim women are not allowed to cover their faces with religious garb. Wear a mask, or be penalized, but don't cover your face because you're religious.

France to prevent mask hoarding, gel price fixing as 4th person ...

I've been convinced by Muslim scholars and observers that the hijab and niqab are cultural aspects of some expressions of Islam rather than directives from the Quran. I've always been suspicious that these requirements are more about male control of women than about modesty. I feel the same is true about wigs on Orthodox Jewish women, or hats on conservative Christian women . I also reluctantly concede that religious groups have the freedom to choose what I might consider in error as long as it isn't harmful, that there is a degree of participation by those women, and that they have the freedom to make other choices. 

In the case of the Muslim women in France there is a sense of hypocrisy rooted in anti-Islamic sentiment which also prohibits them from wearing modest bathing apparel, sometimes called the burkini, on public beaches and some have been ticketed by police for doing so. Canada is certainly not exempt from this with racist, Islamophobic regulations there as well.  In the US  armed men iare able to walk around in masks with impunity while women are harassed for wearing religious attire. 

What are your thoughts about this? Are the regulations in France racist and Islamophobic? 

French agency AFP saw a ticket given to the woman by police, which said she was not ‘wearing an outfit respecting good morals and secularism’.

1 comment:

roger said...

Great post. I do feel they are being islamophobic in France. I count as one of my good friends a Muslim with whom I worked for a number of years. He and I had the good fortune to do some international travel in our jobs, and one of the countries we went to was Turkey.

I learned so much about Islam, the hijab, the niqab, etc from him. And you're correct, in many cases it is imposed on the woman by her husband(but not in all cases). And as you stated, there is nothing in the Quran about covering your face, only that one should dress moderately(women AND men).

My friend and his wife have been all over the middle east, and they have been cursed by some citizens because they did not feel his wife was covering enough of her face. The one country they felt comfortable was in Turkey. It's pretty much a laissez-faire attitude there - if a woman wants to completely cover up, that's fine, and if not that's fine too.

It was funny because on our trip my friend was pointing out people he believed were from Saudi Arabia based on what they were wearing, how much the woman was covered up, and their body language. Of course SA has one of the worst human rights records in the world and treats women as second class citizens.

In Turkey, it just seems to work seamlessly there. We noticed at airport security, women who were completely covered up went to a private area near the counter to show their faces. We didn't see or hear any fuss or commotion. And my friend put it exactly right: the government should not be in the business of telling people how they should dress.