Can you imagine being fined a week’s salary for wearing the ‘wrong’ item of clothing on the street? Well, that’s what could happen in a few weeks time, because the French government is voting on a proposal to ban burkas and niqabs, full-body cloaks with eye slits. Jean-Francois Copé, leader of the majority party UMP, revealed the law would levy a €750 fine on anyone whose face is ‘fully covered in public’. That’s £675 in today’s exchange rate – ouch.
OK, we get it that the beliefs behind the burka aren’t in keeping with our sexually-equal times. The idea of women being forced to wear burkas against their will is wrong, no question. But if women choose to wear burkas, shouldn’t they have the freedom to do so? This Muslim tension has been brewing in France for a while. Last year President Nicolas Sarkozy called the burka, ‘a sign of surbservience and debasement that imprison women, which is not welcome on French soil.’ The trouble is, if the government starts dictating what its people wear, where will they stop? And won’t passing a law that appears to directly attack Muslim beliefs just antagonise extremists? [Cocoperez]
Where do you stand?
- Kate Faithfull