Ban on Burkha

Posted: July 24, 2010 in Gyaan

The French government, supported by 70% majority votes in favor, bans the burkha in public places within France, with fines upto 150 Euros (and/or) jail terms for those who uphold the practice. What is wrong with that?

Media and some of my enlightened Western friends, who have always seen the best side of freedom and choice, argue it is an infringement on human rights. So do some bourgeois friends from my own part of the world – their argument being victimisation of members a certain faith.

I don’t agree.

In my view, neither is it a violation of human rights, nor is it intended to be an anti-Islamic wave of any sort. If anything, it is a bold attempt by the French in shedding all political correctness and an honest attempt to integrate the French society.

To elaborate,

(A) As for “freedom of speech and expressions” and “violation of human rights”, every nation-state has the right to decide (with mandate from its citizens in majority), how they want their culture shaped in the short and long run. This could be in simple, practical terms such as attire – leading to acheiving a bigger vision in attaining an integrated society. In Saudi, the burkha is madatory even for non-muslims (which by the way no one contests)- a research will show similar/different intolerences (small and big) in other countries too . Why should France then be the victim of its own liberal values? Even if individual freedom is infringed upon, in this sense, it is a small price to pay for the vision the state has set out for itself- a unified France with all societies integrated into the mainstream. If someone does not like the vision or the mandate, they are free to go elsewhere where they are allowed to live the way they want. It is that simple.

(B) Another argument given is secularism. There are many ways to look at this word. One country may allow all religions to be practised under its flag, without favoring any particular religion. Another may simply ask its citizens not to wear their religion in public and put national identity ahead of religious identity. Again, one may argue why the state wants to dictate one’s priority, to which the answer given in (A) applies.

Like it or not, countries are marked by their national identity. Religion, attire, languages, cuisine, ethnic origins etc come secondary. As long as these contribute to diversity and provide intellectual stimulus and inspiration to the populace, they are welcome. But if they seek to divide, close minds and pose a threat to the existence of the very State that has fed and nurtured them, we are better off without them.

One cannot have one’s cake and eat it too. It will be hypocritical of the citizens to live in the closed shell they have created for themselves, at the same time claiming the benefits the State has to offer, without being a part of it psyhologically.

Vous voyez, mon cher ami?


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