Tag Archives: Mohammad
Freedom of religion versus freedom from religion — that’s the ongoing debate in France now, as a law banning Muslim burqas — or, veiled face coverings — goes into effect Monday.
France is home to Europe’s largest Muslim population. Only around 2,000 women wear the veils–not many considering there’s an estimated four to six million Muslims in France. Neighboring countries also sometimes see the practice as a form of radical Islam. (Video: NBC)
Burqas and niqabs will be banned in public places, like restaurants, schools, and public transportation. So, how will France enforce such a ban? The Telegraph reports — it won’t be by handcuffs:
“Under the new law, women who wear face-covering Muslim veils… face being fined £125 or ordered to follow citizenship classes, or both… Husbands and fathers who force such veils on women and girls risk a year of prison and a £25,000 fine, with both penalties doubled if the victim is a minor.”
The fine, £125, calculates to just over $200 US. And £25,000 — nearly $41,000!
France is a secular country — insistent upon separation of church and state since the early 1900s. Leading up to Monday’s ban, French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s UMP party held a debate on secularism. But all this has media outlets wondering if it’s just a political ploy?
“The enactment of the law and the opening of the secularism debate come a year before French presidential elections, with a survey… showing late last month that Sarkozy doesn’t have enough support to make it through to the second round of the vote.”
The BBC says, maybe — but there COULD BE a real problem with immigrant assimilation into French society:
“Some politicians see it is a vote winner – and that may be true. But as Muslims become more visible, there is a concern that some of them are pushing separate identities. And that could lead to parallel, rather than integrated communities.”
American media — used to the idea of freedom of… well, everything — has struggled to report this story without bias. But in an Op-Ed for the Los Angeles Times, one writer explains how to look at this issue from both sides:
“We may not like their choice. We may find it disturbing and offensive. But it is, in its way, as much a form of free expression as cartoons of Mohammad, which these women, in turn, will find disturbing and offensive. And that’s the deal in a free society: The bur[q]a wearer has to put up with the cartoons; the cartoonist has to put up with the bur[q]as.”
In addition to the ban, the French Interior Minister Claude Guéant says the government wants to reduce the number of immigrants allowed to enter the country legally — for either work, or family reasons.