French veil ban

In defiance of the French ban on the veil implemented from Monday, a small group of Muslims wearing veils gathered in Paris to hold a symbolic protest. It seems that, fearing a weakening of his position in the run-up to presidential elections at the hands of the far-right party the National Front, which is making electoral gains by taking extreme positions, President Nicholas Sarkozy has walked into a trap of expediency, to his own detriment. Although the new law only makes ‘hiding of the face’ by any person in public unlawful to avoid legal challenges, the debate preceding the enactment of this law focused entirely on the veil of Muslim women. According to official estimates, there are only about 2,000 women in France out of a Muslim population of 500,000, who cover their face in public. Therefore, risking communal harmony just for the sake of targeting a minuscule number out of the 65,821,885 population of France seems utterly absurd. One of the reasons presented for clamping this ban is that the veil could be used for criminal activities, including terrorism. But this has no evidence to back it and has ruffled the feathers of a significant section of French society.

Whether the French authorities agree with the veil in principle or not, trying to drive people into ‘paradise’ at the point of a bayonet is not likely to work. If anything, it will make those who wear the veil for religious or traditional cultural reasons feel singled out and harden their position. The demonstration evoked defiance because it is an irrational law. It not only infringes on a person’s right to dress as s/he pleases, but also violates the European human rights conventions.The cultural preferences of an immigrant community need inter-generational evolution. The old habits of immigrants received from mother cultures are transformed gradually as younger generations grow to assume their adopted cultural norms and values. The whole immigrant experience in Europe shows the difference in the generations who immigrated and their progeny born on European soil. A ban on their cultural/religious norms has evoked defiance, resistance and attempts at assertion of identity in a traditional way. By being seen as attacking one of the most prevalent cultural norms in the entire Muslim world as well as playing a leading role in the assault on a Muslim country, Libya, France is digging for itself a big hole as far as its relations with the Muslim world are concerned. – Dailytimes