Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

Sarko dog-whistles and the left hum along. As usual.

by Colman Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 05:01:26 AM EST

All over the news again is the anti-burka "fight" in France, in which the government of the day, facing a disunited opposition picks on the weakest possible element of French society in order to prove it's willing to keep darkies in their place:

A French parliamentary committee is expected to recommend a partial ban on women wearing the full Islamic veil.
The committee is thought to see the burka as an affront to French values and will propose a ban in hospitals, schools and transport, AFP reports.
France has been debating whether to ban the full body veil - known as the burka - with President Nicolas Sarkozy recently speaking out against them.[...]
Opinion polls suggest a majority of French people support a full ban. (BBC)

"But it's about secularism" I hear you cry, "Its about women's rights". 1900 women's rights, apparently: the parliamentary commission say that 1900 women wear the burka. You really think that Sarkozy cares even slightly about the rights of 1900 women, women who will likely simply not go to hospital, or school or use public transport? If you do, I have a feminist war in Afghanistan to sell you.

Sarkozy is engaged in his normal dog-whistle to the racist right in French politics in advance of elections, aided and abetted by the reflexively anti-clerical left who seem to work by the Arab proverb "The enemy of my enemy is my friend'.

The Socialists at least seem to have come out against the ban, though their objections are based more on understanding that "my enemy is my enemy" than any actual priniciples.

The consequences of a ban should be interesting: my guess would be some nice photogenic riots for UMP candidates to make veiled references to, an increase in the use of the veil as a political protest by young people and, if we're really lucky, footage of hulking masked riot police arresting slight, veiled women on the grounds that their faces aren't visible enough. That'll look just great on the TV screens of a billion Muslims around the world.

At least it has given me a business idea: I am going into production of armbands with yellow crescents on them. In five years I hope to make a killing.


Display:
I especially like the image the Times have chosen to illustrate their story:
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 05:07:35 AM EST
The comments thread is a joy as well.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 05:11:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Clash of civilisations" t-shirts are an option too.

To be chic, we could do a line of Le Clash ladieswear.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 05:10:01 AM EST
In other news, the Spanish PP (thankfully in opposition) is agitating populist debates on immigration ("there is no longer room for everyone here"), life imprisonment, and trying jouths as adults.

Yee-haw!

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 05:12:48 AM EST
Joy! It worked for the Republicans in the US, so it'll work in Europe. Great stuff.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 05:16:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I despair of anyone outside France even bothering to acknowledge that we have a different concept of secularism, let alone, trying to understand our version of secularism.

The reality here is that Sarkozy didn't dogwhistle, he threw red meat  and he is widely derided for doing so here.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 06:17:01 AM EST
Going to lose votes for it, is he?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 06:22:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not sure his party is going to come all that well out of the upcoming regional elections. Red dog meat whistles or not.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 08:09:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I can't tell if a red dog meat whistle sounds tasty or perverted.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 08:14:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, they do eat horse over there.

/obligatory

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 08:19:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]


The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill
by r------ on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 10:34:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The reality here is that Sarkozy didn't dogwhistle, he threw red meat  and he is widely derided for doing so here.

Even by Le Figaro and its readers, for instance?

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 06:27:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't sense derision in Le Figaro's Ce que dit la mission parlementaire sur la burqa.

At the bottom of the page there is an image with what the various parties say about the proposal:


  • UMP: We think that condemning the full-body veil is an excellent way to fight islamophobia
  • PS: The PS is not in favour of a circumstantial, unenforceable law, which would not be effective and might prove contrary to constitutional principles
  • Nouveau Centre: We propose a parliamentary resolution defining the "French [way of] living together" in a global context
  • Le Pen: A law doesn't seem necessary to me. Police regulations would suffice
  • MoDem: There are people in Sarkozy's entourage who dream of using this issue for electoral gain
  • Greens: This hurts me humanely, as a woman and as a feminist. However, I don't know how to resolve this quandary
  • PCF: A law against the Burqa would do nothing but stigmatise a community whose women are the ones who suffer pain


En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 06:54:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
When you see Sarkozy derided in Le Figaro, let us know. It's practically the house organ of Sarkozia.

Otherwise, this page shows that only the UMP supports a proposed Bill that only the UMP intends (or says it intends) to put before parliament.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 07:03:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We can look at Libération, too. Ni Putes Ni Soumises demonstrates in favour of the burqa ban in front of the PS headquarters because the PS is too ambiguous for their liking. While the PS "absolutely and firmly condemns the wearing of the burqa" they oppose the UMP's initiative purely on expediency ("ineffective, circumstantial, unenforceable law") and NPNS demand that the PS walk the walk.
«On attend du courage politique»

Le PS, qui, comme l'ensemble des partis représentés, a remis sa contribution sur le sujet à la mission parlementaire mi-janvier, refuse une loi d'interdiction qui serait, selon lui, «de circonstance» et, probablement, «inapplicable». Et la semaine dernière, les députés socialistes, membres de la mission, ont prévenu qu'ils ne prendraient pas part au vote de son rapport final. Tout en «condamnant absolument et fermement le port du voile intégral», ils refusent une «démarche de diversion et de manipulation» et ne «participeront pas à cette gesticulation politicienne», expliquait, jeudi, dans un entretien à Libération.fr, la députée Sandrine Mazetier.

Une position qui «inquiète» Sihem Habchi: «On attend du courage politique: pas seulement condamner mais aussi agir.» Favorable à un «dispositif législatif» sur le voile intégral, la présidente de NPNS estime qu'«on ne peut pas être sur une position laxiste». Et dégaine sa formule: «Non au droit à la différence quand elle amène à la différence des droits, non au relativisme culturel, on nous met dans un ghetto ambulant», lâche-t-elle.

Superficially, le Pen sounds just like Aubry.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 07:14:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There's no doubt the issue divides the left. It even divides the UMP (which is why I still don't think I know what will really transpire in terms of legislation).

But that capacity to divide is one reason why it's being shoved out there, like the "great debate on national identity". Cosy up to the Le Pen electorate, which Sarkozy needs; get impassioned culture-war debate going as a smokescreen for all the real problems; divide and weaken the opposition. Except that it also divides more than just the opposition, and the notion that it is all a cynical ploy has gained ground until the "national identity" thing has failed and been pulled back. That's one part of the culture-war stink bombs that didn't work, at least.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 07:57:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru:
Superficially, le Pen sounds just like Aubry.

Quite the opposite: Le Pen says that existing laws are enough (to enforce a ban presumably), while Aubry calls the proposal "inapplicable", "not efficient" (pas d'efficacité) and possibly unconstitutional.
by Bernard (bernard) on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 08:00:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Aubry talks about law as debated and passed by the legislature (and examined by the Constitutional Court), while Le Pen speaks chillingly of police measures decided without public oversight.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 08:05:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Speaks volumes, doesn't it?
by Bernard (bernard) on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 08:20:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Right, so the PS opposes the ban on expediency grounds, and Le Pen says if you want expediency, just get the police some Kärchers.

As Colman says, the PS's opposition seems predicated either on opposing whatever the UMP is doing, or on implementation (agreeing on the princple), rather than being an opposition of the principle. After all, the PS "strongly, categorically oppose the wearing of the burqa", they just don't think this is the way to go about it.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 08:28:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hey, I strongly, categorically oppose the wearing of burqas. (I also strongly, categorically oppose the wearing of blue ties with pink flowers on them.)

But I also strongly, categorically oppose telling people what they can wear on public streets.

Where I can see an issue is in those cases where one has to identify oneself - passport checks, personalised tickets, exams, courts, etc. Courts are probably the most contentious one - anonymous witnesses really are not fitting for a democracy that claims to observe the rule of law.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 09:07:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The UMP only have to say they intend doing it. If something stops them, all the better: better vote for them so they can keep trying to protect you from the invading Islamic hordes and their lefty enablers.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 07:39:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course. It's communications™.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 08:01:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You're right though, I find it very hard to understand a secularism so delicate that 2,000 women with their faces covered constitute an existential threat that requires parliamentary action and national debate.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 07:20:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The hidden agenda and the main reason for this even coming to a possible law: Jean-Francois Copé, head of the UMP majority group at the National Assembly and, more importantly, Sarko's arch-rival who's openly angling for the French presidency once Sarkozy has completed his 2nd term (and maybe even sooner).

Copé has been pushing this initiative and advocating for a complete ban in all public places, trying to out-Sarko Sarkozy, if you will (a tall order, admittedly).

This is how a small number of women (400 burqa wearing and another 1500 wearing a niqab "integral" veil) become a danger to the Republic as we know it.

As for a "national debate", Sarkozy has himself started a state-sponsored debate on National IdentityTM, just in time for the upcoming local elections next month. Blaming Johnny Foreigner is a time proven tactic that is no French exclusivity, as we all know.

by Bernard (bernard) on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 07:50:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, it's not a French exclusive, by any means. Demonising Islam is continent wide, at least.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 07:53:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If 1900 Muslim women are allowed to wear the burqa, it's only a matter of time before they put a crescent on the Eiffel Tower, and before you know it people will be sleeping with their pets.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 08:12:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Where did I say I supported the ban? The PS does not even support the ban itself, even though, on the basis of deep-seated and very popular secular principles, it is not hostile to policies that reduce the visibility of religious symbol in public life.

So: you say the PS is a tool of Sarkozy, despite criticizing very explicitly its announcements, and that it is a tool of Le Pen, because it follows its own long-held principles (which are distorted by Le Pen).

You're wrong on both counts.


In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 09:16:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Where did I say I supported the ban?
Why, nowhere, since you didn't say much, particularly not about what you support or not
I despair of anyone outside France even bothering to acknowledge that we have a different concept of secularism, let alone, trying to understand our version of secularism.

The reality here is that Sarkozy didn't dogwhistle, he threw red meat  and he is widely derided for doing so here.

Bernard was more helpful, not choosing to hide behind "if only you were French you'd grok it"
The hidden agenda and the main reason for this even coming to a possible law: Jean-Francois Copé, head of the UMP majority group at the National Assembly and, more importantly, Sarko's arch-rival who's openly angling for the French presidency once Sarkozy has completed his 2nd term (and maybe even sooner).
Copé has been pushing this initiative and advocating for a complete ban in all public places, trying to out-Sarko Sarkozy, if you will (a tall order, admittedly).

This is how a small number of women (400 burqa wearing and another 1500 wearing a niqab "integral" veil) become a danger to the Republic as we know it.

As for a "national debate", Sarkozy has himself started a state-sponsored debate on National IdentityTM, just in time for the upcoming local elections next month. Blaming Johnny Foreigner is a time proven tactic that is no French exclusivity, as we all know.



En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 09:37:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
who put this topic on the front page with rather strong claims about France and the French socialists. Whatever happened to providing evidence for the such?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 10:18:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Whatever happened to providing evidence for the such?

Well, I don't know. Colman sourced the story from the BBC (with a link) and I quoted Le Figaro and Libération. What ever happened to addressing the sources quoted?

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 10:21:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I responded to them. Did you think they proved something about the PS?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 10:35:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The PS waffles a lot on the issue?

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 11:14:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As I pointed out, it does in fact divide the left. That's why it's being used.

It would be gratifying to see Aubry go into attack mode and denounce the whole thing as a machination, but the considerable and capable Sarkozian communications set-up are ready with the "socialists run from debate - that's all they care about downtrodden women" line. It would take a more talented and charismatic politician than the French left has now to scorn that convincingly and carry it off. We can always dream.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 11:39:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
For the record, I think the concept of the burqa (a.k.a. portable prison) or it's Middle East equivalent the niqab integral veil is deeply offensive to women in general (not only Muslim).

It may be an expression of some women's religious beliefs or maybe even some kind of fashion statement, but let's not kid ourselves: it is first and foremost a tool of oppression.

It is as much a visible result as a tool of a general atmosphere of hostility to women. This is not unique to the French "banlieues": rappers have often been lambasted for lyrics advocating violence to women and generally speaking, even the most oppressed underclass man always has someone else to oppress: a woman.

We don't tolerate hostility to women on these pages and we don't tolerate it in other places either.

This said, I'm not convinced that a legislative ban is the best way to fight this "cancer": besides the practical aspects highlighted by M.Aubry, I don't think that in a democracy, the state can impose by law what to wear or not to wear, as I said downthread, besides the practical and security requirements: even Catholics nuns must remove their veil when posing for a passport picture -- and they do.

As everyone knows, a legal ban will actually prevent the women - the victims - from doing even whatever little they are able to do and keep them at home, even more dependent from the men who "rule" them. But hey, it will remove the unsightly veils from our beautiful streets, so the appearances are safe. Politicians will declare victory.

by Bernard (bernard) on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 11:03:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The right (or not) of the State to come in and break a person's (in this case, a woman's) bonds to the groups in which they were socialised (family, friends, entended family, religious groups, neighbourhood groups...) is problematic whichever way you cut it. When there is abuse there's going to be harm done no matter what, and the question is to do the least harm if that can be ascertained.

When the group in which a girl is socialised (family, peer group, religious group, community centre) insists that a headscarf should be work and the state insists that the headscarf cannot be worn in schools, harm is going to come no matter what. I am not sure a headscarf or a full-body veil can be taken as prima-facie evidence of abuse so the state may be causing a gratuitous conflict within the socialisation groups that the girl belongs to. And if there is abuse the headscarf issue is a distraction.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 11:45:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru:
I am not sure a headscarf or a full-body veil can be taken as prima-facie evidence of abuse so the state may be causing a gratuitous conflict within the socialisation groups that the girl belongs to.

I see the point, of course, but you're aware this is a slippery slope: ain't that a bit too comfortable to regard the veil as merely a sign of belonging to a community/group/family?

At the extreme, some could abuse this reasoning and claim that practices such as sexual mutilations, underage girls forced weddings or honor killings are also regular part of a socialization group. Extremists do, actually.

We are discussing this from the outside and standing for the women's right to dress as they see fit. It's all fine and dandy, but I'd like to hear the point of view of the girls and women who are first and foremost affected by the situation.

by Bernard (bernard) on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 04:30:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, where do you draw the line, and why do you draw the line?
We are discussing this from the outside and standing for the women's right to dress as they see fit. It's all fine and dandy, but I'd like to hear the point of view of the girls and women who are first and foremost affected by the situation.
Yup. Which is why I advocate first, do no harm.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 04:36:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ain't that a bit too comfortable to regard the veil as merely a sign of belonging to a community/group/family?

Reversing the burden of the proof here, much?

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 04:45:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not really: it applies to both of us. We don't know much of the extent of the "burden" carried by these women who have to live with such an imposition.
by Bernard (bernard) on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 05:04:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If you claim that the headscarf is prima facie evidence of abuse you have to prove  guilt, not demand that innocence be proved.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 05:56:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A headscarf isn't the same deal as a burqa, not by a long shot.

A burqa is a serious impediment to communication, because it removes most of the body language and facial expression from the conversation. Not to mention the fact that one cannot visually identify the wearer.

A headscarf is a different story by far - it obscures mostly the hair, which carries a far more limited "sideband" for interaction when people communicate. And it poses no issues w.r.t. identifying the wearer.

Now, in most situations there is no law saying that one must be prepared to communicate with one's fellow citizens. And I find a requirement to be visually identifiable in public to be an odious infringement on privacy (particularly in a day and age where surveillance cameras are ever more intrusive and omnipresent). But there are cases - schools, courts, customs, etc. - where either or both identification and communication are of respectable importance, so there is a distinction to be made here on practical as well as aesthetic grounds.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 08:38:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't "demand" any "proof of innocence". I've said that "I'd like to hear the point of view of the girls and women who are first and foremost affected by the situation." And you and I seem to agree.

Speaking of women's PoV: am I the only one having noticed that this diary and the whole comment thread so far is 100% male? What does it say about us?

by Bernard (bernard) on Wed Jan 27th, 2010 at 09:11:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ET has scared all the girls away from such conversations?

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Wed Jan 27th, 2010 at 10:14:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Since you're here, what is your opinion on the matter at hand?

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 27th, 2010 at 10:26:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Heh.  You want my opinion, or a reasoned argument?  My "opinion" is that the proposed ban is chauvinistic xenophobic sexist bs .  But how to make a reasoned argument against, "vous n'êtes pas français... vous ne pouvez pas le comprendre...", I do not know.  I actually am French.  Fortunately the country to which my French ancestors immigrated has allowed us to keep wearing berets as a symbol of our militant coolness. ;)  

On a serious note, this pretty much sums up my thoughts on the matter:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/28/opinion/28iht-edgopalan.html

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Wed Jan 27th, 2010 at 11:56:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm still scared, FWIW.

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Wed Jan 27th, 2010 at 11:57:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]

This is not about a fashion faux pas or women's rights, but about sending a message to Muslims. Concerned with increasingly visible numbers of Muslims openly practicing their way of life while enjoying the privileges of life in the West, French citizens and politicians alike feel that they need to restore "Frenchness" to their streets.

This is stupid and ignorant. "increasingly visible numbers of Muslims"?? WTF is he talking about?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 02:25:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I feel everyone in France should be required to wear one of the two dominant uniforms that are socially accepable today; ie. a business suit (open collar on the weekends permitted) or blue jeans with a t shirt. There could be a special dispensation, upon application to the proper authorities, for older people who prefer cordouroys.
Perhps we could allow priests and nuns and orthodox Jews to wear their religious vetements on certin holy days.

By acting in this way we can assure that there is no religious or cultural discrimination behind the new codes.

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!

by LEP on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 06:33:36 AM EST
And I would also like to get rid of these colorful long dresses that many African women port here in the 18th arondissement of Paris. Who wants to see all this color in the middle of winter in Paris when one is supposed to be feel depressed.

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 06:53:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There could be a special dispensation, upon application to the proper authorities, for older people who prefer cordouroys.

Special pleading™ Alert!

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 06:56:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru:
Special pleadingTM Alert!

I've got too big an arse for blue jeans but I've recently lost 6 kilos, so maybe I'll give it a try ;)

And special dispensations can be a pain with the French bureaucracy. ;(

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!

by LEP on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 07:05:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As I have said elsewhere, I've always found more than a little unhealthy the propensity of white male politicians over 50 to regulate what young women and teenage girls may or may not wear.
[No, I'm not talking about you, Len :-)]

When I was a kid in the 60s & 70s, the same kind of people also wanted to regulate the woman's right to wear mini-skirts or pants. Asserting power on the weakest people in the society must be a powerful drug I suppose.

At least "Ni putes ni soumises" (Neither whores nor submissive), who's is in favor of a legal ban, has a case: they are a genuine feminist group, rooted in the very same neighborhoods where most of the veil-wearing women live. They denounce the constant oppression and hostile to women atmosphere of the poor neighborhoods where many women are pressured to wear the veil, lest they'll be constantly harassed and called "bitches and 'ho's".

The veil doesn't happen in isolation: there's a whole social context to it; and pretending to address the (visible) symptoms while turning a blind eye on the violence and coercion would be plain hypocritical.

by Bernard (bernard) on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 08:17:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bernard:
The veil doesn't happen in isolation: there's a whole social context to it; and pretending to address the (visible) symptoms while turning a blind eye on the violence and coercion would be plain hypocritical.

If this is true, it is the key. Suppressing the burqua is like burning off the wart when the cancer underneath the skin is the cause.

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!

by LEP on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 09:46:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
European Tribune - Sarko dog-whistles and the left hum along. As usual.
the reflexively anti-secular left

"anti-clerical"?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 07:05:12 AM EST
I have the same question.
by Bernard (bernard) on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 07:13:18 AM EST
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Yeah-yeah. You know what I meant.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 07:18:33 AM EST
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Huh?

Next time I'll let you write the opposite of what you mean. ;)

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 07:38:16 AM EST
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<Waves hands and mumbles>
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 07:43:08 AM EST
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Honestly, the dogwhistle about the burqa is just that, dogwhistle about the burqa. Even passed and applied (which is extremely unlikely, if only because Sarko wants to be able to keep on proposing such a burqa law), its negative effects would be only a thousandth of those policies about expelling 30000 people a year by branding them "illegal alien", which is a dogwhistle that is actually biting right now.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 10:20:30 AM EST
are they also banned? I just bought for my sisters wonderful Indian dresses, all come with silk headscarfes (or rather shawls) which they can use as scarfes or headscarfes (a la the late Benazir). Such a pity French women will be deprived of any chance to wear Indian dress, which French authorities and police will surely regard as Islamic and therefore alien and un-French and worthy of partial banning (in public places and institutions).
by FarEasterner on Wed Jan 27th, 2010 at 05:20:54 AM EST
No, they are not. It would be difficult to ban them while pretending to be religion-neutral without banning them for Catholics as well (I've heard people in Italy refer to them as Catholic burkas....)
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed Jan 27th, 2010 at 06:35:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]

pretending to be religion-neutral

There's no pretending. The French laicité was explicitly built in a decades-long fight against the catholic church.

I don't know why this is so hard to understand. The fight today was successfully waged against the other religions in the past. What's done today is consistent with French history in that respect.

Sure, Sarkozy is playing this for other reasons - but it does fit in a long national tradition, which is why you find so much support for some of his proposals, even if many are appalled by the short term intent and the messages it throws out.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Jan 27th, 2010 at 07:18:42 AM EST
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My "pretending to be religion-neutral" was meant to be a reference to Sarkozy, not to the French in general, though on second thought I realize that he might not even bother to pretend.

My point was that a headscarf ban would be impossible to introduce in a way that would not affect the Catholics as well. An attempt to ban the headscarf in places where it is not currently banned would affect nuns as well, and risk yet another fight with the church. Having a fight with the church over this might actually be a good way to convince the Muslims that they are not being singled out, but I just can't see Sarkozy doing that.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed Jan 27th, 2010 at 07:37:36 AM EST
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Contrary to popular (but false) belief, there's no such thing as a "headscarf ban" in France today, not even in the works.

What is banned as of today are: "ostentatious religious signs" and in one place only: Public schools (K-12, not sure about higher ed).

This applies to the big wooden cross, the Sikh turban, Catholic nuns headscarf & dress, Catholic priests cassock, and yes, of course, the so-called "Islamic headscarf. Again: on public schools premises only; elsewhere in public places it's (still) free-for-all.

How this has been translated into a broad based "headscarf ban" may be more indicative of successful propaganda than actual fact checking: your opinion is as good as mine on this one.

Interestingly, the law being proposed by the parliamentary commiseration would make illegal covering one's face in public places, like hospital, administrations, etc...

So, under this scheme, full body veil would still be a-OK, but face masks would have to go; burqa would be banned as well. Interestingly, Catholic nuns dresses and scarves would also be OK, outside of public schools.

by Bernard (bernard) on Wed Jan 27th, 2010 at 09:04:08 AM EST
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Actually, that's exactly what I was referring to (like you, I wasn't sure about the details of exactly which schools were affected). But this ban doesn't bother the Catholics, as their nuns probably don't teach there anyway. Even extending the ban to private schools would involve yet another fight with the Church.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed Jan 27th, 2010 at 09:15:06 AM EST
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Interestingly, the law being proposed by the parliamentary commiseration would make illegal covering one's face in public places, like hospital, administrations, etc...

So, no biohazard suits in hospitals and public places?... I guess firefighters will be banned, too...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Jan 27th, 2010 at 09:54:48 AM EST
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