France Bans the Burqa

France’s ban on full face veils, a first in Europe, went into force on Monday, making anyone wearing the Muslim niqab or burqa in public liable to a fine of 150 euros ($216) or lessons in French citizenship.

Reuters – April 11, 2011
The Takeaway – France’s Burqa Ban, One Year Later – April 11, 2012

One year ago, France implemented the “burqa ban,” a restriction on Muslim women covering their faces in the burqa or niqab. Advocates for the ban argued it would free women of gender enslavement and help Muslims better integrate into French society. The ban received widespread support in France and even some Muslim organizations supported the legislation.

Takeaway producer Arwa Gunja traveled to Paris as a reporting fellow with the International Center for Journalists to examine the impact of the law over the last year. She met with Lila Citar, who wears the niqab and started the online organization “Amazones de la Liberte,” a support and advocacy network for those who continue to wear the niqab. According to Citar, all women in her organization chose to wear the Muslim garb — they are not forced to do so. Citar also explains that many of these women fear leaving their homes because they may be subject to fines by the police or harassment on the streets.

The Takeaway – France’s Burqa Ban, One Year Later – April 11, 2012

Not allowing the face to be covered in public is simple public safety. If you cannot see who people are, then any number of criminal types can go around hooded and claim religious sanction for their anonymity.

The woman who is so treated, forcing her into anonymity, is nothing more than property. Women are not property and it is illegal for them to be treated in this way. Her husband tells her to wear the veil, and she wears the veil out of fear of being murdered, a sad fact of existence in these immigrant groups in France. Murdered or raped for being seen as promiscuous, for showing her face to the world. It’s not HER CHOICE even if she disseminates and says it is. The fear of reprisal is what motivates. This is not a freedom of choice issue, a “I’ll wear a head covering if I want” kind of rebellion. Habituation to being covered while in public should not be mistaken for a desire to be unseen while out in public.

We aren’t talking about scarves here. The French ban is on the Burqa.

The key argument supporting this proposal is that face-coverings prevent the clear identification of a person, which is both a security risk, and a social hindrance within a society which relies on facial recognition and expression in communication. The key argument against the ban is that it encroaches on individual freedoms.

Voices in Islam stated that the face-covering veil is actually not Islamic and is not encouraged by the Quran. Instead, they say that it is part of Muslim cultural heritage.

Amnesty International condemned the passage of the bill in the Assembly as a violation of the freedom of expression of those women who wear the burqa or hijab. RTBF columnist François De Smet responded that this could not be considered a matter of freedom of expression or even religion, since face coverings are but a relic of tribal tradition; that it is face coverings that amount to violation of the freedom of expression, as they block the exchange of facial expressions which as Emmanuel Levinas pointed out are the basis for a moral participation in society; and that the neurotic search for purity that motivates facial coverings ultimately represents the “radical rejection of others” and conveys contempt for others who are not deemed worthy of sharing the wearer’s facial expressions

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

You do not have a right to faceless anonymity while in public. I’m going to stand on that in principle. You do not have the ability to abrogate your rights. You cannot willingly make yourself a slave of another. So even if she wants to be enslaved to her husband in private, in public she is and will be treated as a person, and will be required to treat with people with her face uncovered. This is true because we have a right to know who we are doing business with.

It is not the women who want to be covered and are rioting; it is the men who want to subjugate their women authoritatively who are rioting. Women appeared in support of the ban before it was passed. You might see yourself as defending women’s choice in arguing against the burqa ban, but the men who run the countries where the burqa is required for women don’t see women having a choice at all.

Do you really think you have the right to impose your religious and philosophical beliefs on someone else?

This isn’t about religious freedom, any more than Hobby Lobby really cares about contraception as a religious principle, rather than as a dollar figure on a ledger. This is about maintaining control of the women in that religion.

The ban is on all face covering in public. NO ONE can claim anonymity as a religious sanction. I stand behind that, again, in principle. It is the core of human interaction, to have a face to put on the people you do business with.

I can virtually guarantee that no cop in the US allows a woman (you can’t tell what they are under those coverings) to claim some sort of religious exemption when they do their stop and frisks or even your average traffic stop. At some point that veil will come off, either on the street or at the police station.

Were we in France’s situation we’d have to ban the covering. Luckily, people who come here from areas that force their women to go covered do so because they want to, knowing that they will have to abandon most of their traditions when they get here. Even so, there are people who want the US to allow coverings and female genital mutilation because their traditions demand that women be treated in this fashion. Some of them are women, women who want to subject their daughters to the same crippling punishment they suffered under.

Desert Flower: The Extraordinary Journey Of A Desert Nomad by Waris Dirie

If the United States was drowning in people like North Africans entering France in record numbers, imagine what would happen if they also carried these backwards beliefs about the uncleanliness of women. If they refused to integrate into American society, and felt no need to?

The skepchick makes a valid point in the blog entry, a point about laws banning tribal dress like the burqa causing women to be even more isolated, but there’s clearly disagreement among women as to the effectiveness of the law. What I would say to the skepchick is that you are isolated behind the veil, so there is no connection established with outside society if you cover yourself when you go out. Consequently, while the ban might lead to more isolation and ostracism, the practice itself allows for the exact same thing. At least by passing the ban, France has staked out it’s position.

Facebook Hat/tip to a Facebook friend for the long Wikipedia quote.

On Children

And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, Speak to us of Children.

And he said:

Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you,

And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,

For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls,

For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.

The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.

Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;

For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.

Kahlil Gibran – 1883-1931, The Prophet (Knopf, 1923)

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The Gun Argument

An armed society is a polite society.

Robert Heinlein

We are an ‘armed society’; I’ll let you be the judge of whether our conduct even approaches politeness. From my perspective, we could use a lot more of it.

Most people will never have cause to use a weapon in self-defense. When I tell someone that I’ve twice had cause to need a weapon, much more use it, most of the time the listener is shocked. Gunnuts (pro-gunners) as a rule are convinced they always need more and better weapons, most of which remain unfired in any setting other than the range where it becomes a matter of pride to have the coolest weapon with the best gizmos to go with it.

That is where the AR-15 is used, not as a self-defensive weapon. A self-defensive weapon is a pistol, or a shotgun. A woman would be better served with a can of pepper spray (also a weapon) as she is more likely to be killed with her own gun, statistically, than she is to use it.

Which is the another point that gunnuts fail to notice; that a ‘weapon’ is anything you can use against another person. That ‘self-defense’ is anything you might do to defend yourself. That, in fact, you cannot have a right to something that you cannot make yourself (if the converse is true, then I can definitely have a right to health care) which means you don’t have a right to firearms in any fashion beyond what the Constitution guarantees.

The worst offenders of the right to Self-Defense, places like Chicago and D.C., are what is held up as examples of commonality across the US. Nothing could be further from the truth. Most places (8 of the 10 cities on this list) in the US have very lax gun laws. We have LOTS of measures on the books, and almost none of them are actively enforced, even if they were effective. There is no mandate that someone demonstrate proficiency with a weapon before being sold one. There is no certification of sound mind required before someone can go and buy a handgun.

‘Anyone’ can go to virtually any gun show or private seller and purchase a weapon more lethal than any gun available at the time of the drafting of the Constitution. If that fact doesn’t scare you, then you aren’t a thinking person.

I’ve had arguments with gunnuts that think that Zimmerman was right to stalk Trayvon Martin, that think teachers should be mandatorily armed (as if weapons proficiency is a good skill in a teacher) that think not just semi-auto ‘mock-ups’ of military arms, but full auto military arms and weapons systems (like tanks) should be available for private purchase. They never seem to get the disconnect between a defensive action (removing a threat to you personally) and military actions, requiring the killing of multiple targets simultaneously, indiscriminate of the safety of onlookers, neighbors, people caught in the crossfire. That is a losing argument.

I’m on record saying “I’d accept that training and background checks should be mandatory, if those who want to ban guns would accept that the right to carry common weapons for defensive purposes is guaranteed.” but truthfully when I start having to argue with gunnuts about their weapons fetish I’m to the point where I simply endorse the reinstatement of the general draft. That is how we fix the problems in this country. Reconstitute the militia as intended in the Constitution. Two years of service, military or civil, with mandatory weapons training for all. Gets the kids off the streets, gets people work to do, gets the gunnuts were we can find them and disarm them before they hurt someone.

…or we can fall back on the first sentiment. Take your pick.


Editor’s note, 2020. I posted this image to Facebook about seven years ago, just about the time this article was published. This article didn’t have an image. Now it does.

It was midway between the Newtown shooting and whatever the next shooting that the national media covered that I posted this. Hell, there was probably a shooting that hour somewhere in the US, but I don’t remember which gun incident we were arguing about at the time. Pick one, I’m sure the victims will not care. One of my friends asked me if Texas really didn’t want its citizens to have health care or rather was this just another image designed to piss conservatives off? There was also a comment from InquizaJamesatribalist in there making his usual doom and gloom predictions if we dared to give up our guns.

I posted two links to the comments. One was These Are The 36 Countries That Have Better Healthcare Systems Than The US. The other was We don’t have a spending problem, we have a military spending problem. I had nothing more to say about Texas favoring the delivery of guns versus delivery of healthcare, seven years ago.

Today I can definitely say that Texas does not want its citizens to have health care. Texas has tried to deny the Wife, the Daughter and the Son access to necessary care. It has done this several times. Texas can’t deny me healthcare because I qualified for Medicare fifteen years ago now. The Wife qualified for Medicare last year. Both the Daughter and the Son only get care today because we make sure that they find access to care. Texas certainly doesn’t offer it to them. It still doesn’t seem to have trouble selling me assault rifles, not that I’ve tried to buy one, but plenty of other Texans have them and shouldn’t. We’ve had to disarm quite a number of them after they’ve gone on rampages in the last few years. Their victims would thank us, if they were still breathing.

…Why would we know by May 27, 2013? Those of you who went to the Facebook link might well be asking that question.

Cross Examined blog

The Latest Snake-Oil

The story about the GyroStim and the sports writer promoting it struck a chord with me.  As a long time Meniere’s sufferer, I’ve seen a ton of these kind of devices promoted to me as a ‘cure’ for what ails me.  The people who do this kind of thing, the “Chiropractic-Neurologist” in this story, are amongst the cruelest predators you will ever meet, because when you have a disease for which there is no cure, you will do almost anything, pay for almost anything, to make the suffering stop.  They bank on the victims desperation, KNOWING that if they have money, they’ll buy the fakery, just to experience that moment of hope that things will get better.

It’s almost enough to make one wish that hell existed, just so these types of people will be punished for their trickery in a proper fashion. I know that the courts are no remedy for this, unfortunately.  I offer a heartfelt thanks to Dr. Steve Novella for fighting the good fight on this subject.