French ‘Officially’ ban the burka- A Superiority Complex?

By Majed Iqbal-France becomes the first country to enforce a ban against the niqab (Muslim face veil) Monday, when new legislation comes into force.

Not enough with banning the headscarf from government institutions and buildings including schools, colleges and universities, the French President Nicolas Sarkozy sparked off deeper controversies by calling for the burka to be banned back in June 2009

His comments were aired in the first presidential address in 136 years to a joint session of France’s two houses of parliament where the French premier described the burka, a veil, worn by many Muslim women as part of their Islamic attire as a “debasement” of women – and not welcome in France. He added:

“In our country, we cannot accept that women be prisoners behind a screen, cut off from all social life, deprived of all identity. The burka is not a religious sign. It’s a sign of subservience, a sign of debasement”

“I want to say it solemnly; it will not be welcome on the territory of the French Republic. We find it intolerable to see images of these imprisoned women when they come from Iran, Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia.”

MEP Chris Davies from the North West added more fuel to the fire when he stated that the burka does not belong in 21st century Britain.

“In my experience, the burka acts as a mask, reducing identity and discouraging women from developing their own skills and personality.”

Europe has witnessed rising rates of intolerance against minorities which have most often been ascribed to right-wing parties. However, many statements like the French Presidents have signaled a very fine line between right-wing parties and ‘mainstream’ ones in Europe especially related to tackling Islamic and Muslim related  issues.

According to a survey of global opinion released in September 2008, it found that more than half of Spaniards and half of Germans said that they did not like Muslims and the figures for Poland and France were 46% and 38% for those holding unfavorable opinions of Muslims.

The survey mentioned “Opinions of Muslims in almost all of these (European) countries were more negative than are views of Jews,” analysts said. While Americans and Britons displayed the lowest levels of anti-Semitism, one in four in both countries were hostile to Muslims.

Despite the French premier glossing French Secular values as the ideal for any society, a quick track record at Frances record towards women is one worth considering before embarking on the debate of treatment of Muslim women.

According to 2008 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices report, there was a 21 percent increase from 2006 to 2007 in the number of women killed by their spouses in domestic violence disputes (from 137 to 166) whilst current figures have shot to 400 a year. Approximately 38,000 women are raped each year in the country.

Sarkozy was keen to highlight how secular values must be the benchmark for France and seemed to gleam at the achievements made in France in ensuring equality for all.

However, despite laws which require that women receive equal pay for equal work the 2008 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices report highlighted that there was a gender pay discrepancy of around 25 percent. According to a 2007 survey by the government’s statistical agency, fewer than 20 percent of private sector executives were women, despite comprising 58.5 percent of the public workforce.

French women comprised approximately 50 percent of cabinet ministers in the government and were generally underrepresented in the legislature and in other levels of government leadership.

The War on Terror has now re-defined its focus to addressing what are acceptable Islamic ideas and practices and what are not such that Muslim women are now being questioned on even their dress code and role in Society.

The unprovoked debate of the burka to be brought into the limelight only once again serves to show the efforts in the last years in many European countries actively pursued by governments to force feed secular values to Muslim communities which themselves are questionable and open to scrutiny and debate. Hence Sarkozy confirmed this when he said

“I tell you, we must not be ashamed of our values, we must not be afraid of defending them.”

It seems that the French Premier was towing a similar tone like the Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi did in 2001 when he cited that “Western civilisation is superior to Islamic civilisation”.

The French Premier talked about “Debasement” of Women who wore a burka but has yet to answer for the divide in gender opportunities, sexual harassment at the workplaces and the rising rates of domestic violence that are carried out by men against women in France to this day.


  1. @Kimi:

    “There is no difference? ask a real man.
    May be you posed naked in a mens magzine and it didn’t catch any body’s attention and thus it makes you think that there is no difference.”

    lol there’s no need to resort to petty, childish insults when debating an important issue. the reason i compared it to a woman posing in a mens magazine, because to me the logic which underscores both actions is the same. ie. that women are primarily sexual creatures. this is a view that i strongly contest, and in equating the two together i expressed my disdain for both and the ideology that drives them

  2. max pocker says:

    Dear People, Mr Sarkozy,

    Leave them alone. What is this a new French Inquisition???
    Surely you have more important things to worry about. Why don’t you ban the Cross all over the country, showing a suffering Jesus nailed in submission to the Romans??? This is again very controversial, if the Muslim women asked for help, then I would accept your interference, but is just not fair, and is not for you to interfere in such a delicate subject. Have you asked the women who wear the bhurka if they are unsatisfied with it??? I guess not. So shut your bloody froggy mouth and take care of your business and your country and your people, who have in the past, not too far ago, thrown Muslins into the Seine. What happen to Legalite, Fraternite, Equalite??? Or whatever order is it??? You are throwing MERD in the fan. Let them do what they want to. Is not up to you or your stupid government to decide what to wear. And furthermore your reasons are without any depth, you have just invented them in order to ban it in fear of social problem or shame that France is becoming more and more Muslim. Are you scared that is the fastest growing religion in the world, and soon France will become more Muslim than Christian? What happen to your tolerance. Why is it so offensive to you? Or your people?
    I am not Muslim by the way, but think nothing about the bhurka or veil. Have you thought about banning the little “hat” which’s name cannot remember now that the Jewish people wear??? Why don’t you ban the tie???? I assure you alot more people will be satisfied.

  3. khudakeliye says:

    Salaam wa alaikom (May PEACE be upon you).

    Ariana sweetheart,
    While reading your comments, I felt you were reciting the usual blindly feministic western speech. Please bear patience with me as my message is long.

    How much do you know about Islam?
    You are for the ban because you believe it impacts negatively on women’ social and po spheres but whose faults is it? Islam? NO, Islam gave the women equal rights but different responsabilities. Men and women are equal in front of God.
    – “If any do deeds of righteousness be they male or female and have faith, they will enter Heaven, and not the least injustice will be done to them. (The Noble Quran, 4:124)”
    -“O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other. Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well-acquainted. (The Noble Quran, 49:13)”

    Islam gave rights to women centuries before Christians in the 18th century only would still be debating whether women had souls or not or whether their souls were similar to those of animals because till the 20th century women were never and still are not equal to men and till late in the 20th century they were allowed to work only whenever their men were obliged and enrolled in wars.

    Is that equality you’re talking about? Social and political involvement?
    At the time of the Prophet (saws), women were EMPLOYING men! They were BUSINESSWOMEN!!! The 1st wife of the prophet (saws) was Khadija (radiyAllahu 3anha), SHE asked him to marry her, SHE was a BUSINESSWOMAN, SHE was rich, SHE was FAMOUS and NOBLE, SHE was 40!!! And he was only 25 when they got married. She refused every noble man that proposed to her and through her friend asked him before his prophethood because of his noble character to marry her.
    Women were SCHOLARS! Aisha, the youngest the prophet (saws) married, she was devoring so much knowledge about Islam that she became the 1st woman scholar teaching all the men after the prophet’s death!!!

    Hidjab not in the Qur’an?
    -“O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks (veils) all over their bodies (i.e. screen themselves completely except the eyes or one eye to see the way). That will be better, that they should be known (as free respectable women) so as not to be annoyed. And Allah is Ever Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful” [Surat Al Ahzaab 33:59]
    -“And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what must ordinarily appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands’ fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers, or their brothers’ sons or their sisters’ sons, or their women or the servants whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex, and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments. And O you Believers, turn you all together towards Allah, that you may attain Bliss.” (Quran Al Noor 24:31).

    -“For Muslim men and women,- for believing men and women, for devout men and women, for true men and women, for men and women who are patient and constant, for men and women who humble themselves, for men and women who give in Charity, for men and women who fast (and deny themselves), for men and women who guard their chastity, and for men and women who engage much in God’s praise,- for them has God prepared forgiveness and great reward. (The Noble Quran, 33:35)”

    Niqab not in ahadeeths?
    Actually, it is and not only a hadith but a sahih hadith (from a truthful source that collected the hadith):
    -It was narrated that ‘Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) said:
    “May Allah have mercy on the women of the Muhaajireen. When Allah revealed the words (interpretation of the meaning)
    ‘and to draw their veils all over Juyoobihinna (i.e. their bodies, faces, necks and bosoms)…” [al-Noor 24:31], they tore their aprons and covered their faces with them.”
    (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 4480)
    It was also very well know that the wives of the prophet (saws) covered their faces as they were dealing a lot with men as everyone was asking them questions to gain knowledge of the prophet (saws) regarding Islam (obviously).
    -Though, The Prophet (peace be upon him) commanded: “A woman (pilgrim) does not cover her face with a Niqab (i.e. does not tie or affix) nor should she wear gloves.” [Al-Bukhaari, Muslim; Saheeh Abi Dawood. #1600; authenticated by Al-Albaanee].
    Thus, from this authentic Ahadeeth, we can clearly see that the Sahabiyat (RA) were accustomed to covering their faces with Niqab otherwise, there would not have been any need for the Prophet (peace be upon him) to specifically forbid it during the state of Ihram. Likewise, during Ihram, men are forbidden to cover their heads which shows that outside of being in the state of Ihram they were accustomed to covering their heads, and Allah knows best.
    -It was narrated that ‘Aisha said:
    “The riders used to pass by us when we were with the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) in ihram. When they came near, each of us would lower her jilbaab from her head over her face, and when they passed by we would uncover (our faces).”
    Narrated by Abu Dawood, 1833; Ahmad, 24067

    How much do you know about sexualized society and attracting lust wearing niqab (which is NOT burqa)?
    Have you ever compared a man watching a non hidjabi/niqabi woman with a man watching a woman wearing a niqab or even a hidjab in the street? Oh wait, he’s not even daring watching the niqabi women! Even a NON muslim man lowers his gaze in front of a niqabi woman. This is the blessing from Allah. Let’s not talk about freaks, weirdos and non-mannered shameless men…
    What is bothering the men today is that they’re frustrated not being able to see the face or the parts under those covering clothes.
    What is bothering the women today is that they’re in the bottom of their heart feeling a bit shamless on themselves consciously or not having to constantly seduce with their adornments and physical charms men for anything (job, administration papers, police when getting a ticket, when giving a speech publicly, when getting attention from teachers men or women, etc, etc, etc).
    I know what I’m talking about, before learning about Islam, I was a model that was getting jobs easily with attitudes and knew how to “play the game”. El hamdulilah, due to my parents education and Allah’s protection, I never accepted anything bad (offers). I actually stopped degusted of this industry when I became famous in my agency and attracted one of the ugliest hearts of the richest men in the world.  EL hamdulilah. Allahu Akbar.
    This is how the world works and always worked and this is how Islam liberated us a VERY LONG TIME AGO!!!

    How much do you know about France and Sarkozy?
    Did you know that everything was fine in France and between muslims and non muslims till Sarkozy came into the government even as a minister, he associated his election with the extremism in France which is –guess what- “front national” which is the racist group and turned out French people and France upside down playing us like puppets. Yes, I am French and this is the reason I left France and accepted a job offer in New York. Before I disliked US because of Bush but came when Bush left and left France when the French version of Bush came to the power.
    The reason for that is that I knew the evil and disease in the heart of Sarkozy turning muslims even against themselves. The oldest strategy of times: divide to better rule.
    Once elected, he passed unbelievable laws and in order to stop French questioning and focusing on him, he threw the focus on muslim women. Who would defend them even if between them, he would create and increase the storm? SubhanAllah.

    Please, don’t follow the 4th power, the media, we discovered how many strategy to present one angle have been displayed throughout the media.
    I cannot tell you things about our religion if yours believe and trust in Him is not strong. Maybe you could work on that in order to increase your emaan?
    Don’t loose the focus. The problem is not muslim people, nor it is Islam but it is the governments and the ignorance of people.
    And if you’re a muslim, you should know how important education is, sister.
    “Ikra” is the first word that has been revealed to the prophet (saws) by the angel Gabriel. Not only that but “Iqra/ bi-ismi rabbika allathee khalaq “ -“Read! In the Name of your Lord, Who has created (all that exists) (surat Alaq 96:1)

    “…Say: “Are those who know equal to those who know not?” It is only men of understanding who will remember.” (Az-Zumar:9)

    Don’t read/listen/see blindly, mix and balance your heart and mind and look for the Truth.
    May Allah make it easy on us and guide us.

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