Nadine Morano “hurt” by image of a veiled woman at the beach

The former minister of the UMP Nadine Morano has created controversy after posting a picture of a veiled Muslim woman at the beach on her Facebook page. Morano wrote, “There is nothing that threatens public order because the woman’s face was visible in accordance with the law, but it’s an attack on our culture that hurts.” Next to the photograph of the veiled woman, seen from behind, Morano showed the headline of the Figaro Magazine featuring a picture of Brigitte Bardot in a bikini.

Addressing the picture of Bardot, Morano writes: “This image of a Frenchwoman who is proud of her freedom as a woman struck me as a contrast to that of the veiled woman…When choosing to come to France, a state of rights, secular, one must respect our culture and women’s freedom.”

Her comments prompted a statement from the National Observatory Against Islamophobia, which called the post “stigmatizing.” “Is the act of wearing a veil on the beach not respecting the laws of the Republic?” asked Abdallah Zekri, the association’s president. Zekri contended that only the full veil is banned in France.

“It’s always the same one who stands out in the UMP…It would be better for her to deal with what’s happening in her party rather than to stigmatize women who wear the veil,” he added. Zekri is a former UMP member who left the party “after having felt the frequency of hate speech and racism rise.”

Jihadists, Hamas, the veil: does France have more tension with radical Islam than its neighbors?

August 22, 2014

A comparative survey between England, Germany and France has created controversy due to its results concerning France. When asked about their opinions about Islamists in the Islamic State of Iraq, those who were polled in France expressed a 15% positive opinion, compared with 7% in Britain and 2% in Germany.  Although the religion of those surveyed is not indicated, the survey’s results gave rise to questions surrounding integration, especially in France. It is important to note that the study’s sponsor is Rossiya Segodnya, a Russian press agency. While the Russian media is not particularly interested in the problems of integration in France, question remains about the agency’s motives for conducting the survey. Atlantico conducted an interview with historian Guylain Chevalier and professor Moustafa Traoré.

When asked if England’s method of integration, often lauded as a model for Europe due to its multiculturalist approach, is a success, he answered: “Let us remember that during the terrorist attacks in London, everyone across the Channel was shocked that the terrorists did not come from abroad but were ‘well integrated.’” He stressed that after the attacks, David Cameron saw the English model as a failure. He continued, “The phenomenon of jihadism that is developing in European countries is evidence of an evolution of a part of the Islamic community towards a radical Islam that responds to the goal of Islamic domination based on the model of the Islamic State of Iraq.” In the case of the Islamic State, every person who does not convert to Islam risks death.

Chevalier continued, “One can image what espousing this vision, for certain Muslims tempted by the renewed figure of the ‘warrior for Islam,’ could have as a projected consequence in Western countries in a closed community where things can go adrift.” For this reason, he concluded, “One cannot ask questions in such a context about the efficacy of our models of integration for combating a risk of radicalization in the long term, as it is fed by armed conflicts where Islam is increasingly involved.”

The Atlantico then spoke with Moustafa Traoré, and asked: “From the point of view of integration, the unemployment rate for Muslims, or of mixed marriages, how is France worse than other countries in terms of integration? In contrast, how is it better?” Traoré said that the best way to evaluate an integration system is to speak with those who are primarily concerned. For example, “One cannot evaluate the integration of women in the workplace without making reference to the feelings of the latter.” He stressed the importance of using proper terms when discussing integration, “France, is before anything, an assimilationist country that has the tendency to ask the newly arrived to get rid of their values, their culturally ethnic particularities, so that they can adopt those of France and of the Republic.” He continued, “To speak in France about the process of integration where there does not exist one is an intellectual fault that often reflects dishonesty, or an underlying racism.”

Chevalier points to the failures of England’s multiculturalism as, “A model that is specifically the opposite of France’s, a society that is the quintessential mix of primarily considering individuals as equals before seeing them as part of cultures or religions.” He adds that France has the highest rate of mixed marriages, 27%, of anywhere in Europe. However, he concedes that “It is becoming increasingly difficult to integrate populations that are coming from elsewhere, into an economy of chronic unemployment, where cultural tensions can also be exacerbated by the economic tension.”

Responding to the issue created by Nadine Morano, whose negative comments about a veiled Muslim woman at the beach have sparked controversy, Chevrier states, “It’s certain that her reaction reflects a fear that is growing today,” but notes, “In a number of Muslim countries, women have a minority status that is not completely discriminatory, and which is not without influence on the way a number of Muslims in France practice their faith.” He adds, “The countries of origin of those who decide to wear the veil did not operate on the separation of religion and politics like we do…To follow before anything the values of religious codes, seen as superior to common law, is a form of confinement that breaks with the idea of the common good and of the public interest and favors social and political divisions that could lead to radicalism.”

Traoré said that while he does not have the same point of view as Chevrier, he recognizes that “The reaction of Nadine Morano is understandable, when France has chosen assimilation instead of integration. This supposes that there exists a cultural model of established and rigid values to which the newly arrived must submit to, all the while leaving behind what makes up their ethnic and cultural differences.”

When asked about the tensions that erupted in Stockholm in 2013 and if there is another country that is similar to France in terms of its integration policies, Chevrier stated, “Our model of integration…is without a doubt the best safeguard for our peaceful coexistence in terms of social diversity, no matter what differences may exist.” He concluded, “The Republican model is a wonderful tool for integration…Confronting the danger of radicalism and its current temptations, the feeling of belonging to a national community, to a larger being that puts the public interest ahead of idiosyncrasies, is what’s at stake for peaceful coexistence and more so, a determining element for social peace.”

Burqa law ban in Catalonia

In 2010 a ban against women wearing burqas in public buildings was approved by the city of Lleida in Catalonia. Women who would disobey such ban would incur in a fine between €300 and €600. The ban was adopted by several other localities in the area on the basis of public space control and public safety.

Later in 2013, all bans against the use of burqas and niqab in the region of Catalonia were annulled by theSpanish Supreme Court claiming that local authorities do not have the juridical right to legislate about fundamental rights.

Following the Strasbourg Court recent conclusions that the use of burqa or niqab in public buildings is not against the European Convention of Human Rights, the Catalonian Government announced that they will begin to prepare a new set of laws to regulate the use of integral veils and burqas in these spaces. The new conclusion of the European Court opens according to the Catalonia Government a new perspective that concerns the women’s right of dignity.

NY Times on France’s “Burqa Ban”

September 1, 2012

 

The French law banning the full-face veil from public spaces has been controversial from the start, with loud debates about the meaning of liberty, individual rights, the freedoms of religion and expression, and the nature of laïcité, or secularism, in the French republic.

While pushed by the center-right and former President Nicolas Sarkozy, the ban was not opposed by the Socialist Party, which largely abstained in parliamentary votes. And the current French president, François Hollande, has said he has no intention of discarding the law, which has been generally popular with the French.

To avoid charges of discrimination, the law was written without any reference to Islam or to women and was presented as a security measure, making it an offense to wear clothing “intended to hide the face’’ in any public place, including shops or the street. The police do not have the authority to remove full veils, only to fine or require citizenship lessons for those who violate the new law. A clause says that anyone who forces a woman to cover her face can be imprisoned for up to a year and fined up to 30,000 euros, or $37,000.

Update: Burqa Ban and Dual Nationality Clause Still Tabled in Netherlands

23 May 2012

 

Proposals to ban the burqa and dual nationality in the Netherlands remain in process in Dutch parliament, home affairs minister Liesbeth Spies states. With the government collapsed in May, Spies has commented that the legislation could be dropped, given that the sponsoring PVV (Freedom) Party no longer formed the supporting member of the minority coalition. However Spies now says that it is up to MPs to decide whether to drop the legislation, and that so far none have identified the issues as controversial.

Netherlands May Drop Planned Burqa Ban

2 May 2012

 

The Netherlands may drop the planned ban on the burqa and on dual nationality which are currently making their way through the national parliament. The change comes with the fall of the minority government, as those aspects of government policy influenced by the presence of the anti-Islam  PVV (Freedom Party)  enter into renegotiation. Notably, MPs have implored outgoing Interior Minister Liesbeth Spies (CDA) to eliminate the country’s planned burqa ban. Spies has responded that she “wouldn’t shed a tear” if the PVV-sponsored bill was scrapped, but will leave it up to parliament to decide. The proposed ban on dual nationality is now also under contention.

Spies had previously defended both policies, stating in regards to the burqa ban that “it is important that people in an open society meet each other in an open way.” This week, however, Volkskrant quotes her statement that, “now that the cabinet has fallen, there’s no longer any payoff”  to supporting PVV sponsored bills. Immigration Minister Gerd Leers has also said that he will no longer support PVV causes within Europe.

Update: Further Criticism of Planned ‘Burqa Ban’ in Netherlands

7 February 2012

The Dutch cabinet’s plans to introduce a ban on the burqa continues to draw criticism. The Dutch Council of State, the government’s highest advisory body, as announced that it does not see the need for the ban, and suggests the government is being led by “subjective feelings of insecurity”. The advisory body has said that it is not a government decision to regulate what women can wear, and that other laws are in p lace to ensure public safety without the ban. The government rejected earlier objections from the Council and it is unclear what impact the statement will have now. Ministers maintain that the ban is necessary to preserve public order and security.

Meanwhile, attention to reactions among Muslims in the country to the advancing ban remains scarce. Beyond the initial comments from the spokesperson for the Turkish organization IOT, as well as the head of the women’s organization Al Nisa, both of whom expressed concerns that the ban would cause women to become isolated in their homes, few Muslim voices have attained prominence in the mainstream media coverage.

Update: Continued Reaction to Dutch Cabinet Adoption of Burqa Ban

28 January 2012

Following last week’s announcement that the Dutch cabinet had adopted a ban on face coverings despite the grave reservations of the government’s advisory body and highest court, media coverage has reported a range of response.

Radio Netherlands Worldwide reports that the chair of the police works council has criticized the ban as ‘symbolic policy’ and feels that it is unlikely to have practical benefits. Security and Justice Minister Yvo Opstelten responded to the comments by noting that once approved, police will be obliged to enforce the ban.

The Jerusalem Post notes several instances of women condemning the ban, including those who feel that it would encourage more women to don a burqa. Fatima Elatik, a practicing Muslim of Moroccan descent who is district mayor of East Amsterdam. Elatik opposes the ban on this basis. The same article reports that a politician for the country’s Green Left party is calling upon ‘all women’ to wear a burqa as a form of protest to the ban.

Meanwhile, a comic who responded to the controversy by creating farcical online dance video  ‘Do the Burqa’ has faced threats.

Last week’s adoption by the Dutch cabinet considerably furthered the likelihood of the ban passing into law. However, the ban must still pass a vote in parliament before becoming law.

Lower Saxony: Precautionary Burqa Ban

28.09.2011

The state parliament in Lower Saxony discussed the potential introduction of a burqa ban for civil servants. The coalition government’s proposal to introduce such a ban in 2012 has been harshly criticized by the opposition of SPD, Green Party, and Left-Wing Party. The mosque association Schura described the proposal as “hysteria”, as there is currently no civil servant wearing or intending to wear a burqa.

Dutch Government to Propose Burqa Ban

16 September 2011

 

The Dutch government has agreed to a ban on the burqa under a deal with Geert Wilders’ PVV Party. The Interior Minister announced that “a general ban on wearing face-restrictive clothing in public is on the way” and will be in effect in public buildings, educational institutions, hospitals and public transport. The government statement indicated that face covering is “fundamentally against the character of public discourse where we have to me each other on an equal level” and is a necessary and justified restriction on freedom of religion “to protect the character and good habits of public life in the Netherlands”. The sanction for non-compliance will be a fine.