France Bans Niqabs

This new rule in France has been rattling around in my brain since I first heard about it. I’m not sure what to think.

I don’t struggle with things – nothing so active: I puzzle them, worry them. Thus far, I’ve managed to puzzle out these four things:

  1. If it’s not hurting anyone, don’t bother making a rule about it.
  2. It’s better to change a rule than to break it.
  3. You shouldn’t impose your culture or religion on someone else.
  4. Faces are necessary for communication.

Regarding #1: I’m not sure why France made the rule. I do know that they’ve been fighting for identity for thousands of years, and have never succeeded in being an empire (despite Napoleon’s efforts). It must be difficult to live that close to England, and to always be battling to save your language and your culture.

That said: the new law also applies to masks. Really? The English word comes from the French. Covering your face, adopting a disguise, playing a part – this is all inherent to French culture (thank god, or we’d be dependent on the English for all our theatre). Are masques banned, too?

Niqabs are not harmful to anyone, except perhaps to the person wearing it. If France is making the rule to help uncover women who don’t want to be covered, they should be straight forward about it. It won’t help the women if it’s sneaky and underhanded.

Regarding #2: A friend once said this. He was one for treading the fine line, but he didn’t like the rules being broken. I agree with him. It makes for peaceful living while still giving you something to rail against.

Regarding #3: Culture is fun. One of the few benefits to The Global Village must be that we can pick the best parts of each culture and come up with something that looks good, smells good, feels good and makes us happy. France has a lot of excellent culture; Islam does, too. In the end, everyone should end up well-fed, extremely well-educated and very beautiful. How did they mix together two good things and end up with something toxic?

If France made the rule in an attempt to keep their culture pure, they should know better by now.

If the Muslims are insisting on keeping their culture pure, especially in another country, then they’re out of their minds. Why move to another country if you plan to keep your culture at all costs (literally: isn’t it about 150 Euros each time you’re charged for wearing a niqab?)

Regarding #4: Deception is frowned upon in Islam, and the niqab is a cultural affectation. So, why cover your face? It’s not necessary, and the law makes it a form of deception. We communicate with facial expressions. We need to see the twist of the mouth to identify a comment as sarcastic. A wrinkled nose is completely different from a flared nostril. A broad grin can make a person’s day.  Given the opportunity, wouldn’t you want to communicate more effectively rather than be perceived as hiding something?

Regarding puzzling: None of these things gets me any closer to a right-or-wrong answer about the new law; I fling back and forth inside the pinball machine. But the subject is relevant because this issue has come up here in Canada, in Quebec, which means that Ontario will feel the backlash at some point. It also seems like an unnecessary conflict to me. It’s nothing more than the age-long religious dispute: my prophet is better than your prophet, even though my prophet is one of your prophets no matter what title you attach to him.

There are people dying, people who are being abused, people who are in pain, and we’re arguing about a veil? I can’t tell who should give in, but it seems to me that a catastrophe is required in order to pull these people together.

Let’s go, Poseidon. An earthquake in France, please. When earth, water, fire and air are all in chaos, maybe a piece of cloth will be put into perspective.

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