An Irish woman's social, political and domestic commentary
Thursday, January 29, 2004  


I have been asked to comment on the ban on religious symbols in French schools. As John Waters points out its an issue where feminism and liberalism meet and have fallen apart. Here's where I stand:

- The fundamentalism of some should not be used against the moderation of others, i.e. comparing the hijab to the burqa is not fair
- Naturally it appalls me that the reason the hijab is required is because men are not expected to control their lust or anger and it is the responsibility of women to cover themselves so that they do not accidentally tempt men. Clearly this is medieval and the burqa is practical torture. (Except perhaps if you live in Afghanistan where there is no law or order, the place has been bombed back to the stone age, and war lords and tribes rule the day)
- I also acknowledge that even within Islam the hijab is hugely controversial and is for instance banned in Tunisia and Turkey.
- Further, I am aware that Islamic women who don't feel the need to wear the Hijab can come under a lot of pressure to do so
- but that is the crucial point. The hijab is a matter for Islam - it's something which they need to sort out and one would hope that the moderates prevail
- it is not an issue for the state and they have no business telling people what they can and cannot wear. Prohibiting certain dress seems to be as intolerant as proscribing it. Provided basic human rights are not being infringed, people should be let do what they want.
I think that the ban will only provide amunition to fundamentalists and make life harder for the moderate wing of Islam. It will probably result in girls being kept back from school which will make their lives harder. It will result in the alienation of Islamic society from 'western' society rather than promoting co-existence. In short, the 'west' will have to stop viewing Islam as the Moors coming over the hills to conquer all before them. The roots of Islam are extremely tolerant and we should be helping the moderates; not excluding them.

posted by Sarah | 18:24 0 comments
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