France, Nativism And A Piece Of Cloth.
I am not a fan of the Niqab or Burka, but then again I am against enforcing specific dress codes, to wear something or not to wear something.
I argued some time ago on this very topic at Zword, but reconsidering some of those arguments I think there is a better way of looking at it, a simpler way. In the grand scheme of things, how important is it, really? In my view, not much.
When you think of France, with all its numerous social problems, economic ills and political difficulties, would you think that a piece of cloth is the biggest problem that they face?
And does it become a bigger issue when worn by women, in strategic places ?
I suspect most intelligent readers will say, no.
Clearly, there is plenty of historical material on secularism in France, and anyone familiar with the French Revolution would know why, but the contemporary debate in France owes more to the political manoeuvrings of politicians and the influence of the Far Right.
Xenophobia has long been a problem in Europe with its major manifestations in the 1930s and 40s.
More recently we can see increased racial attacks and violence again Roma across European countries, including France and then the spectre of nativism raises its ugly head, where those wearing unapproved fashions are now attacked.
The Far Right’s influence can be seen all over these measures, along with Nicolas Sarkozy’s fingerprints as he panders to French nativism in the hope of electoral success.
France has many serious problems and they do not come down to bits of cloth worn by women.
The real problems and social ills in France should be dealt with, and it does not help women in anyway to fine them for not wearing the approved range of clothes.
So in Europe let us be serious, deal with the real problems, infrastructure, social inequalities, decent wages, good pension, a solid welfare state and the stark divisions between rich and poor, and not these panicky measure which only increase racial tension and help the Far Right.
Update 1: Previous posts on the topic, Stigmatising Dress Codes.