“This is a society that has doubts about itself,” Tariq Ramadan told a French parliamentary panel mulling a burqa ban. “For me, this commission is born of a real self-doubt, and suddenly they’re looking at one element, at the most extreme slice. The problem won’t be solved like that.” Ramadan claims that the larger problem in France is discrimination which means that with an Arab-sounding name one won’t get a job or an apartment, pointing to findings by the Paris-based anti-racism group SOS-Racism, which indicated recently that some French recruitment companies are applying racist policies and ethnic profiling in hiring, filtering out non-white candidates. Ramadan positioned himself against a ban.
Ismahane Chouder and Monique Crinon of the Feminist Collective for Equality (Collectif des féministes pour l’égalité) explained to the parliamentary commission led by André Geron that they say the burqa in France is hostile to women’s rights. However, Chouder and Crinon did not advocate a burqa ban, noting that “We have a tendency in our societies to punish the victims.” Both voiced a characterization of the burqa in the Republic as a “sign of stigmatization.”
French sociologist and historian of secularism, Jean Baubérot, explained to a parliamentary meeting on the burqa and niqab in France that a ban is untenable as it would be inefficient and complicated to enforce. Bauberot noted that a ban would further ostracize the French Muslim community, even if many of its members are also against full-face coverings. He stressed that “between the permitted and the illegal is the tolerated.” Researcher Fahrad Khosrokhavar and Jean-Michel Comte, president of the Teacher’s League, also voiced their positions against a ban. The commission will report its finding at the end of January 2010.