Friday, January 15, 2010
Muslim Female Dress in France
ASSOCIATED PRESS ARTICLE: France moves closer to banning full Muslim veil
The non-denominational christian church I was a member of as a child and young adult required women to wear veils when in temple, to wear no jewelry nor makeup (ever), to wear dresses and/or skirts that extended to the ankles, to not cut one's hair, and to be "modest." It is not common in the United States to see women like that. While I am no longer christian, nor do I feel I should follow those mores any longer, at the time, I felt it was my duty to my god and an expression of my faith to follow the dress prescribed to by my church.
While Islam does not require the niqabs nor burqas, and I personally feel that modesty is what one makes of it, if these women choose to follow a custom that they feel makes it easier for them to be faithful to their beliefs, then a government has no right to infringe on that choice. When I was of my faith, I would not wear pants, and my country would not make me do so. As long as the women and men follow the rules of France, they too should be allowed to dress as they please - especially as it is for a faith in their god and not because they are part of some nefarious gang or for a ridiculous fad.
More importantly, any woman, Muslim or otherwise, should not be denied citizenship because they have not assimilated to the "culture of France." France has a reputation for being a beacon of peace and freedom. To suddenly require that a segment of their population "assimilate" to look like every other French citizen goes against everything that the country stands for. France has a vivid tapestry of citizens, of every color, of every religion, and from most corners of the globe. What exactly are immigrants supposed to assimilate to?
I want to reiterate that I do not believe women should have to wear these types of coverings nor the type of clothing I wore when I was christian to prove that they are good women and faithful to their god. A woman can be immoral and immodest even if covered from head to toe. A woman can be unfaithful, even if wearing no makeup. A woman can be vulgar and think awful things, even if she never cuts her hair and wears skirts down to her ankles. Faithfulness to a deity is dependent on one's inner workings...not a facade shored by a type of clothing.
While taking religious studies, I took courses about Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. I wrote essays about the oppression of women through dress. I will be posting these essays soon, but no where in these essays do I take the position that these methods of dress should be abolished. My disagreement with oppressive dress -- from christian Mennonites and Catholic women religious (nuns) to the women of Islam -- does not mean I have the right to dictate their removal.