The anti-burqa law has been amongst the most debated measures voted by the French Parliament under the Sarkozy administration. Targeting less than 400 face-veiled women in France, the law acts more symbolically than anything else; it doesn’t solve any pragmatic problem. In my point of view, the ban of burqa in France has no real religious impact, since living in the western society is already conflicting with the islamic laws in many more revelant ways, strictly saying; if Muslims in Europe can live with paying taxes to governments sometimes at war against muslim-majority countries and contributing to a ribaa-based economy without getting where this is contradictory with Islam, it’s not the ban of burqa that should make them feel that they are stopped from fulfilling religious duties. Unlike some “moderated” personnalities say, face-veil exists in Islam (as proven by the biographies of the Prophet Muhammad (SWS) wives), but was is not clear is if it is mandatory or optional. Thus, the burqa ban in France do not put French Muslim women in a religious dilemna, it puts them at the centre of a symbolic battle, opposing a government that made of hypocrisy its trademark to the whole process of democracy.
The arguments used to justify the burqa ban are almost an insult, not only to veiled women or muslims, but to all French citizens, because they don’t speak the true motivation behind it. Not only it is technically limiting in terms of freedom of choice, but also it is a huge trickery: under the cover of fighting for women’s rights, it goes once again in limiting women’s concerns on what they wear – miniskirt or niqab? – instead of real and concrete measures to ensure their rights, let it be by helping single mothers, women forced into prostitution, labour market particularely unfriendly to women who didn’t renounce in having children or the increase of violence made to women (in France, on woman dies every 3 days after being beaten by her husband or boyfriend). It is simple to ban a burqa and stigmatize Muslim men to “submit” their wives, it is much more complicated to break the real chains than imprison French women, let them be muslim or not.
One of the “myths” exported by the government spokesmen and parliamentary groups presidents is that the anti-burqa law defends secularism (the so-called French laïcité), which is untrue given the fact that secularism is a strict separation between religion and institutions that never implied the ban of religious signs in the street, the streets being public but not institutional, and the citizens being representing only themselves and not any official or governmental function when out of duty. Moreover, the French government is commited in a few affairs out of the area defined by secularity: laws have lately been modified in order to allow Islamic finance in France (unlike muslim women, muslim money is always welcome; the ex French Minister of Economy Hervé de Charette is even president of the French Institute for Islamic Finance… secularim is far far away when there is benefit), Ministry of Education gives grants to private jewish schools and the agenda of holidays of all public services follow the christian calendar (traditions and History are absolutely not an excuse for that).
The French people should wonder what could have been their lives if the same amount of energy than what took to make an anti-burqa law accepted was spent on each project aiming in defending employment, housing or institutions for social insertion of mentally challenged people. If the same time spent to communicate and stress on the importance of the law was dedicated to each file concerning the huge lack of means in hospitals or the case of the thousands of homeless people that are refused a bed and a meal in overfull shelters. No, the French government did not vote a law to protect the people’s interest, although they pretend they did. This hyprocrisy about the true reasons behind the anti-burqa law is, technically speaking, outside the rules of democracy: democracy is the governance of the people by the people itself, and an untruth on the state of the discussed topics equals to fool the people, hence to give choice between fake options, keeping them busy with choices relative to a virtual freedom, while actual freedom based on true facts and arguments stays out of scope. Indeed, instead of asking the right questions and anwering the right answers, the French people are arguing against each other about how awesome or awful is a life under a burqa or a niqab.
The right question here is then not if France has right or not to ban burqa but what are the real reasons that made it so important to the Sarkozy administration, when they always knew that it has no practical impact. Was it for opening a debate on Muslims in France to put them “under the spotlights” for electoral reasons? To provoke a reaction from their side to prove how ‘antidemocratic’ they are? To warn them of any attempt to become more visible on the public scene? To send a “muslim-unfriendly” clear message to discourage Muslim Africans to migrate to France? Or to veil the emptiness of mind of the rulers?