It appears that France is following Belgium and proceeding towards a public ban on face veils. Ladies that refuse to abide by the law will be fined and ‘if’ it is proven that men who may have forced women to wear one can be imprisoned. (Reminds me of a much lauded yet now buried law regarding using prostitutes that the client knows to have been trafficked.) The spurious nature of such a law is plain to see for all. There is anecdotal evidence that ladies that were trafficked for prostitution told their clients this fact and asked for assistance, (Tell the Police etc.) they were ignored and abused accordingly. As for a man confessing that he had forced a lady to wear a veil, I feel this may be as likely as a politician coming up with an idea that benefits his electorate rather than himself!
The issue of women wearing veils is a contentious one, and my own feelings on the matter are that it is wrong. I do not understand the logic of it and have asked Islamic friends to explain the reason and found it confusing. My feelings aside, there appears to be a rational argument for a ‘secular society’ to not wish to be seen to promote any religion and not want its citizens to do the same. Therefore any public display of religious symbolism should not be tolerated. Whether religious buildings should come into this field I am not too sure, although there may be merit in questioning the imposition on the human psyche that they may play. The French Interior Ministry state that there is as little as 1,900 individuals that wear a niqab out of a population of 5,000,000 Muslims. (Seems like a very large hammer to crack a very small nut).
Here lies my real concern over this legislation, and I predict this will encompass many more countries and very soon. Not a bad idea you may say. Why is the legislation coming to the fore now? Is it because of the rampant Islamaphobia that appears to be sweeping throughout Europe? Is it because Europe has become more liberal in its approach to its citizens and sees secuarlization as a way of stemming religious despotism and narrow-mindedness. Are France and Belgium leading the charge towards a new period of enlightenment, where scientific endeavour and rational debate will be the norm? To all these questions the answer is: No!
In real terms, superstition and religion have grown over the passed thirty years or so, and this legislation is not designed to stem the flow. A population that believes in fairies, goblins, ghosts, gods and luck, works well for our political elite. This is not to say that they too aren’t averse to a little superstitious belief, one only has to look at how much of our money they have squandered chasing the neo-liberal dream, even though any five-year-old can see that it doesn’t work. As for their love for guru’s, advisers and consultants, they have shown their devotion by squandering the few pennies we have left on nice offices and epic salaries for them.
This drive towards freeing those ‘poor oppressed women’ from wearing the niqab has a more sinister motive. There is little known legislation that has made its way through the EU parliament that is the true cause for the removal of the niqab, and will also be the cause for legislation, yet to come, for the removal of hoods and hats in times to come. This legislation is to do with the new digital age of surveillance and to what degree this imagery must be accurate and of the highest quality. All European states have signed up to it and all must abide by its codes. Not only will the imagery have to be of the highest resolution and the best of quality, but also, the population will have to be monitored. High-resolution imagery is of no benefit if the individuals you wish to monitor walk around with masks on, therefore all veils must be the first to be removed – because that’s the easy way. No one in France or Belgium, except a minority, will see much of an issue with such legislation and may even see it as liberal approach. In truth it is but the first step, to a twenty-four-hour surveillance society where every spot, defect and political persuasion will be recorded in glorious detail.