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Home > impact on women / resistance > U.K.: Supporting the ban of the burqa in France

U.K.: Supporting the ban of the burqa in France

Saturday 9 January 2010, by siawi2

Source: The Independent, 8 January 2010

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown: They are right to ban the burka, even if it is
for the wrong reasons

France has never delivered égalité or fraternité to its immigrants.
And it often uses liberté to in fact deny those other pillars of its
society. There is also a lingering imperial arrogance in that nation
that refuses to accept diversity. However it is also true that Muslims
in France, in Britain and in other parts of Europe use the argument of
equality and liberty to subvert those very qualities and deny them to
their own.

We have a debate in the UK on faith schools based entirely on the
equal rights of Muslims. Jews and Christians have their schools, so
Muslims should too. That argument is indisputable. But for a society
in which we can all live with the rights we are entitled to, equality
can not be the only factor to consider.

I think the same holds for the burka debate in France. Muslims have
the right to be free and equal but what they do not have the right to
do is promote practices that violate the fundamentals of good
societies anywhere, not just in the West.

The use of the burka has grown like a virus across the continent.
Children as young as four are now dressed in hijab. It is time for us
as a continent to rethink a garment which is more a statement about
the position of women and the threat of men who apparently cannot
control themselves if they see a woman’s face, hair, hand or ankles,
than an item of clothing. It also physically cuts women off from other
citizens. Last autumn I was in Canada, a very free and equal society,
and saw not a single burka.

It is heartening that Fadela Amara, a Muslim female politician in
France, has come out in favour of a ban. We need more such voices. All
the Muslim women I know detest this garment but are afraid to say so
because it is a mark of disloyalty. I don’t like the way the French
state or its right wing parties operate but sometimes there are some
good unintended consequences.

Most Muslim girls in French state schools are now perfectly content
not covering their heads and they have not turned into slags. In Paris
recently, Fatima, 15, told me something we in Britain should remember:
"We needed protection. Sometimes we needed protection from the people
who love us. And France protected us."