Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
This Reuters article, which wasn't out when I wrote the diary, does make it clear that the ruling involves state schools, and that nuns are allowed to wear their habits in state classrooms under the Bavarian law.

It seems very clear that the Bavarian law is (a) different from the French one (aside from dealing with teachers and not students), and (b) discriminatory.

'Course, try being atheist (apostate) in most of the Islamic world, or Christian in Saudi Arabia, if you want to see real discrimination based on creed.

Is the argument you really want to be making, "We're not as bad as Saudi Arabia?"!   That seems like a very low standard to compare oneself to.  Like I said in the original diary, "Western" values are supposed to include tolerance and equality, right?  But this Bavarian law is intolerant and discriminatory.  I am astonished that you would defend it.

that ni putes ni soumises site will give you plenty of evidence it happens.

"Evidence that it happens" was never in doubt, what I want to know is what percentage of women for whom it is true.  The Deutche Welle article includes this:

Women's rights groups and conservative politicians, however, argue that many Moslem women have no choice but to wear a headscarf because their families demand it. Yet, according to a recent survey conducted by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, 97 percent of those women asked said it was the duty of a Muslim woman to cover her head and that they should be allowed to wear them wherever and whenever they choose -- an opinion not shared by the vast majority of Germans.

I do thank you for the link to ni putes ni soumises, which sounds like an extraoridinary organization doing very important work.  I'm glad they're around.

However, let's look at the issues that they and you enumerate.  From your wiki link:

The movement fights against violence targeting women and it focuses on these areas:

    * Gang-rapes
    * Pressure to wear the Hijab
    * Pressure to drop out of school
    * Pressure to marry early without being able to choose the husband.

If you were a girl living in one of the banlieues or cités and facing this list of problems, which would be the one you worried about the least??

And which is the issue that all the politicians and newspapers and bloggers and whoever else are paying all the attention to?

And just to build on that, if we take your gang rape example and assume that "not wearing hijab" is the "reason" why girls are gang-raped. (That is a claim, incidentally, that I would dispute strongly, since it's not much different than blaming a victim of a "different kind" of rape for being a prostitute or wearing a short skirt.  Rapists are to blame for their crimes, not the victims.  But I digress.)

But for argument's sake, let's say girls are being gang-raped for not wearing hijab.  Let's also say that few people or politicians or organizations or journalists or bloggers are doing much to draw attention to this problem or to stop it.  And now let's say that you've now banned women from wearing hijab at work or school, so now she's on the subway or the bus without her headscarf, coming into a neighborhood where women get raped for not wearing it.  Congratulations, you've just made her a target.

So the argument now would be, oh, she could just put on the scarf when she left work so by the time she got home she would be "safe."  But she wouldn't be safe, because we still haven't done anything about these gangs of rapists roaming her neighborhood, and the truth is that men who commit gang-rape don't really need an excuse to do so.

Same for being pressured to drop out of school.  If a family is pressuring a girl to wear the hijab, and also isn't crazy about her going to school, and then is told that she can't wear the hijab in school, do you think they redouble the pressure to keep her out of school because she'll have to go there "naked"?  (Which is how people of this mindset think of it.)  So would you rather have girls in school in hijab, or girls not in school at all?

So this is my point, which you just don't seem to get:  By fixating on the least important issue, you (collectively, not personally) make it much harder to address the issues that are more significant and more disempowering.

Let's look at it another way:  Why focus on the "symbol" (let's ban burning the American flag!) and ignore the substance (freedom of expression)?

are you implying that since it is a family issue, there's not issue for the rest of us?

Of course not.  And I think you know that.

You are confusing race here (dye hair and change name). Race has nothing to do here. Clothing choice is not personal identity in the way race is. You can take off the veil, you cannot take off your skin. You can choose to name your kids Abdelkader or Pierre-Gilles too if you like. If I don't wear a proper suit and tie to an interview, I guarantee I don't get the job. If I have a pierced nose, even less. Or a tattoo. So this is irrelevant.

You are ignoring my question, which was:  If we are really all equal, than why does it matter whether a woman covers her head?

And it does sound like you're arguing that everyone should change whatever aspect of their identity that is changeable in order to "fit in" to your idea of what society should be like.  I, on the other hand, value the diversity in my society and think it would be really boring if everyone were named Jacques and Marie.  So I guess that's just a difference of opinion:  Maybe you want everyone to be the same, but I want everyone to be themselves.  Our societies are richer that way.

Veil as expression of (forced) submission will not be accepted, period.

Another problem is that these laws do not differentiate between women for whom it is forced and women who geunuinely choose to cover their heads of their own free will.  You're telling them both that they won't be accepted.

That all depends on how you choose to be different.

A dope addict is "being different" too, after all.

Are you seriously equating wearing a headscarf with addiction to heroin?  Maybe this conversation is futile.

Off topic, in searching for the Reuters story, I found this little article in a Turkish magazine, accompanied by the following picture from a German magazine:

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Tue Jan 16th, 2007 at 04:10:36 AM EST
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