Wednesday, April 20, 2011

J'Accuse: France Bans The Niqāb

"The worst are full of passionate intensity" - W.B. Yeats
France has banned the niqāb and burqa, the garments worn by Muslim women that cover their faces. A few reasons are being bandied about and one (surprise!) has to do with security. No one knows exactly what's underneath - could be a Frank Zappa or something even worse. Another insists the law protects women from being forced to wear the niqāb against their will. Both reasons are ludicrous. The law subjugates women because it takes away their right to choose for themselves. I don't deny there are women who are forced to wear it, but that shouldn't justify the state prohibiting others a right to freely choose.

The French ban is a feeble attempt by Nicolas Sarkozy's anemic government to win support from the wacko fringe on the right. They and their supporters have succeeded in denying a woman the freedom to choose. The issue is pretty simple - if a woman wants to wear it, she should be allowed in a free society to do so. As a man, I'm pro-choice, not "pro-abortion" or "pro-niqāb", as some fools would have it. Anything less is misogyny. Below is an interesting discussion between Mona Eltahawy - whom I greatly respect, but believe is wrong on this issue - and Heba Ahmed:

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