Monday, 11 April 2011

I want a burqa.

I want a burqa (burkha, burka or burqua). I want to envelop my body in dark cloth. I want to feel the spiritual security of being immersed entirely and enclosed by the opaque linen. I want to feel safe from the predatory eyes of unscrupulous onlookers. I want to hide away and save the image of myself for a few chosen (for me) people.

But seriously when it comes to the new French law that comes into force today they are making a big mistake. A far better approach might have been to make a law which prohibits people from obscuring their identity in public under normal circumstance. This addresses the concerns about bank robbers and the like. Motorcyclists are often prohibited in the UK from buying petrol at a petrol station without removing their crash helmet. The idea being that they are effectively masked with it on. The new French law is specifically aimed at the oppressive nature of burqas but unfortunately it is inflammatory. It seems a lot of people think it is a religious issue but it is only religious insofar as some oppressive men fool their women into believing as much. If people want to wear burqas or niqabs it should be their right except where it infringes on other people's rights. One such infringement could be argued to be hiding one's identity in public. If the law stated that it was illegal to hide your identity in public under normal circumstances then they wouldn't have had to put all sorts of exceptions into the law such as carnivals and public theatre. The other part of the law to come into effect later this year which makes it illegal for a man to force a woman to wear a burqa is far more reasonable but then it is probably illegal for a man to force a woman to dress how he wants anyway. But that part of the law is at least overtly supporting womens freedom. The bit about fining the women for complying is a little like trying to fight drug abuse by targeting the victims instead of the perpetrators. It will never work.

Some people differentiate between idealists and pragmatists. I am definitely an idealist but that doesn't exclude me from being a pragmatist as well. The trouble with pragmatists is that they want to excuse shoddy thinking and botched jobs by virtue of the fact that they work. But look at Fukushima and Chernobyl as good examples of pragmatism. Those nuclear power stations worked... until the unexpected (but not unpredictable) events occurred. A little more effort to be a little more idealistic could have avoided both of those devastating disasters. Ideally, for example, humans would pursue sustainable and non polluting forms of energy production. Even if those solutions cost more in the first place, which is doubtful, there is no doubt that they would cost less in the long run.

But back to burqas. The problem with the French law is that it is political manoeuvring at the expense of rational and reasonable laws. It will most probably not have the effect that it states it is aimed at. It is aimed at reducing oppression but it has an oppressive nature all of its own. People will quite understandably object to such a prejudicial law. Prejudicial because it assumes it is oppression that forces people to wear burqas. The only way to stop behaviour which is caused by oppression is to stop the oppression. But that would take a more serious effort in the world of society and schooling. A culture that respects all people and shares the available wealth fairly would not have subcultures which oppose the system. But a culture that wants to have laws legitimising the accumulation of incredible wealth by a few at the expense of the majority of other people can never avoid the inevitable opposition from the masses of deprived people it produces.

This law is also odd because there has been a lot of effort and a special new law created to stop no more than about 2000 people in a population of about 60 million (that's 0.00003%) from wearing a piece of clothing that would most probably not be worn in a more successfully egalitarian society anyway. But where is all the effort to detect, prosecute and stop the banking fraternity from flaunting the law and ripping people off to the tune of billions of francs (oops, Euros I mean). I think this law is most probably silly and trying to "force" people to be free feels a little like the proverbial thin end of the wedge. It also seems a little like the pot calling the kettle black.

And anyway, outlawing freedom of expression is very dangerous and likely to cause more people to demonstrate that freedom. In conclusion I predict that the French will have to repeal the law before too long and that will have exactly the opposite effect of that which they said they wanted in the first place because it will give legitimacy to these monstrous oppressive misogynists who perpetrate the oppression under the guise of it being spiritually necessary.


  1. You're quite right you know. Your argument/suggestion is the better way.

    However, as Muzzies have pissed off the West once or thrice too often they're being targeted and can only blame themselves...not that they ever will of course.

    Outlawing hiding your face in public would have been my way of handling it too.

    Which surprises me really as it's such a sensible option....don't tell...I have a reputation to maintain...;-)

  2. But there are those exceptional cases where hiding one's face is a benefit to the ordinary folk!

  3. Quite so!...Ugly female muslims are exempt...Sounds like a good deal to me..;-)