Saturday, July 19, 2008

Free Society and the Niqab

No matter who you look at in this story, something should tell you that you're not in Kansas, Toto.

The New York Times reports today ("A Veil Closes France's Door To Citizenship") that a French immigration court has denied citizenship to a 32 year old Moroccan woman, Faiza Silmi, because she wears the Muslim veil. It is actually one of the more extreme forms of the veil, a niqab (pictured above). The woman is stunned that she would be denied citizenship "because of what I choose to wear." But the ruling has "almost unequivocal support across the political spectrum." The French concern is not only for laïcité, or the publicly secular character of French society, but also for egalité, the perpetuation of the democratic character of French society and government. “It is not a religious insignia but the insignia of a totalitarian political project that promotes inequality between the sexes and is totally lacking in democracy,” said Fadela Amara, the French minister for urban affairs, who is also a practicing Muslim of Algerian descent. She called the niqab “a prison” and a “straitjacket.”

For her part, Faiza Silmi, said, “They say I wear the niqab because my husband told me so. I want to tell them: It is my choice. I take care of my children, and I leave the house when I please. I have my own car. I do the shopping on my own. Yes, I am a practicing Muslim, I am orthodox. But is that not my right?”

Just as an aside, I found a photo this 1995 Iraqi passport [see correction below, 2/23/09]. Given how strictly Muslim life is regulated not only by Sharia law but also by various customs, it is questionable whether a Muslim of this sort can live outside a Muslim country. Assimilation is certainly questionable. You can explore the questions on your own.

Peter offers this comment (Feb. 23, 2009): Hello, Interesting picture which You found in the net. Indeed, this document is even more interesting than You may imagine. In fact it´s a driver´s license and not a passport. And in fact it was given by authorities located in Europe and not in Iraq, where it may be nothing outstanding in this time. It´s a croatian one, given in 1995 to a woman coming from Kirkuk in Iraq to Zagreb. A great difference, I guess, but I´m nearly sure, that also the croatian authorities wouldn´t give such a license again nowadays.

My response: Peter, thank you for pointing that out. But you shouldn't have had to. If I had looked for closely at it in the first place, it would have been obvious. But I could not have known it was a driver's license, not a passport. Of course, my point is the same, but thanks for taking the trouble.


Anonymous said...

Wow David--that's quite a quote from the urban ministries official; makes the officaldom of England look more lost that ever. What if France turns out to have more civilizational spine than the Brits? Or maybe even an Obama administration...


Keith said...

What confuses me is how that Iraqi passport would be effective at all. It could be anyone in a picture like that, even me.