On Thursday September 2nd, 2010 secular France introduced a ban on religious symbols in public spaces (first and second level of public schools, hospitals, government buildings). Although the ban prohibits the use of all religious symbols in public spaces, the one symbol highlighted within this contrevorsy has been the veils of Muslim women. What is being called as the “Burqa Ban” has lead much heated debate over the dynamics of 1. Banning a cultural icon and 2. the rights of women, Muslim women. The debate has brought out many points that are related to racism and sexism which in this particular manner are tied to immigration.
To most Western women the Burqa/Hijab/Abaya/Boushiya/Buknuk/Chador/Dupatta/Khimar/Milfeh/Niqab is seen as a symbol of hate. Something that keeps woman from coming to understand their complete identity. The development of a complete human being’s identity is their understanding of their sexuality, whether it has power or not. This complete understanding to a Western Woman means complete freedom. So, this ban was seen as a win for liberty. But why do I have a sour taste in my mouth?
One of the main reasons the taste of sour milk lingers in my mouth is the thought that keeps on creeping inside of my mind. The idea of a caged animal being whipped. If France’s government was really thinking about Women’s rights they would’ve thought of the woman already caged within their Burka. These women already have a limited engagement with the public. To further scrutinize just seems unreasonable and stupid.
As a Westerner, I cannot understand why anyone would want to live behind the veil. Worse, I couldn’t imagine seeing myself as just an object of a man’s desire or wife. And to think that I’m the root of many evils, because I can possess scrutinizing facial expressions and give birth? Many of my facial expressions are separated from my sexuality, if you could imagine that! Yes, the veil would hold back any awkward stares I might penetrate onto whatever shag I desire (insert eye-roll) but I consider my sexual identity to be part of my identity as a whole. There are so many facial expressions needed in my daily life to fully communicate with my co-workers, friends and family. That to have that taken away from me seems sinful. But I’ve never immigrated from a distant land to land in the land of the free. I feel as though I cannot impose my ideas of freedom on those Women who arrive in a Western country and choose to continue their traditions that seem oppressive to me.
I think of the time in Ottawa while riding the bus and sitting across a young girl wearing a Burka. Face covered and all in black. And I remember not being able to look her straight in the eye because I felt ashamed for her and myself. I couldn’t imagine being that girl and being so severed. The shame came from not being able to imagine a way of helping her either. We sat across each other looking beyond each other as the landscapes of our Nation’s Capital rolled by. I thought of France and how sorry I felt for the girls living in France who had the Burka bestowed upon them by mothers and grandmothers. Whose Father’s believed it was the only way for a girl to dress in order to live a pure life. And the taste of sour milk happened and the girl before my eyes disappeared.
The banning has brought about many complexities of the way a society works and I really do feel that some of it needs unveiling. France is not the only country in Europe that faces a crisis. It has a lot to do with race but mostly it has to do with Political infiltration. The West does not want to meet the East. Just look at Sweden’s ban on the Minarets on Mosques. Because of instability in the middle East Western Europe has had immigration problems. Walk into Montmartre, Paris and discover not only the Moulin Rouge but hundreds of Arab men hanging out. These sort of bans are happening because there is a major culture crash happening in Europe. Why?
More people need to start asking themselves the question, Why is this happening?