By Mikita Weaver
The burqa is not a sign of religion. It is a sign of subservience . It will not be welcome on the territory of the French Republic. ~French President Nicolas Sarkozy
Europe is deeply embroiled in a raging conflict over something quite small and ordinary: a simple piece of cloth that some women chose to wear over their face. The article is about the clash that is occurring as many European countries ban the burqa. In France only a few thousand of the 5 million Muslim women choose to wear them. The ban is mostly a symbolic expression of disdain for an unpopular minority. European culture meets Muslim culture. The article highlights the different values.
- Muslim Values: Many Muslim women have widely divergent opinions on the use of the burqa. Underlying the controversy is the Quran which mandates only modesty. Many Muslim women rely on the burqa as a way to preserve their traditional background and “to preserve their marriage prospects and family honor in mixed-sex settings.” Muslims often come from a traditional society that is more family-oriented, stable, conservative and more wise about human nature and human society.
- European Values: As a trend, countries in Europe tend to value independence, secularism, and liberalism. Mainstream Europeans often embrace free thinking and sexual freedom. The right’s based approach utilized in much of Europe often views traditional societies as patriarchal that evidences practices like foot-binding and female circumcision.
Interestingly, the article points out that conflicts no longer arise through colonialism (like it use to); instead, conflict now arises through migration. In this case, Muslim minorities are transplanted to aggressively liberal communities. Belgium, Italy, and France are all moving towards a total ban on face-covering veils in public. Although most European countries embrace cultural relativism, the burqa ban is somehow gaining popularity.
Cultures constantly have conflicting ideas on the role of women in society. The article pokes fun at the Europeans who pride themselves on rights in a country “where women are often overexposed and objectified” in the capital of the fashion world in a county of topless beaches. And France has the audacity to lecture others on the dignity of women? How powerful is this thought? In reality the French are doing what they think is right for women—giving women freedom and freeing women of the restricting that a burka might have in making women helpless, dependent, and anonymous. In reality the Muslim women are also doing what they think is right for women—shielding the innocence, guarding a woman’s honor, and following their God’s desires.
Although the burqa ban may only create resentment, as I follow the news throughout Europe, I often see riots and conflicts that arise relating to the Muslim minority. Instead of embracing relativism and adapting to and accommodating people from all different backgrounds, Europeans are taking a stand and objectifying Muslims as “the other.” Instead of realizing that both sides both just want what they think is best, both sides are resisting one another in what will only continue to a constant source of cultural conflict.
This article is in response to “Europe’s burqa rage” by Michael Gerson (Washington Post)
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