In February the French Parliament approved a law proposed in December last year to ban the use in schools of the Muslin headscarf along with Sikh turbans, Jewish skullcaps and large Christian crucifixes. The law came into effect at the start of the new school year (in last month) and it’s created it’s first victims. I still find hard to believe this is really happening in an European country.

So, it’s ok to wear cloths with offensive writings, black leather covered in with metal chains, gothic, latex, or even to wear (really!) less. But if someone wants to cover him/herself more because of it’s own beliefs, then we make a big fuss about it, right?

How can someone’s use of a headscarf interfere with another’s space? It doesn’t. So the only argument I can see here is the fact that some young women are intimidated by Muslim men who oblige them to wear the scarf. Sure I don’t agree with such thing, but will this be solved with a law?

Hell no! At worst, it’ll make them get out of school sooner, preventing them from accessing education and information and this is the opposite of what should be done. Using this law is no solution to this problem and besides, what right has the French government to force someone not to do something by forbidding it, based of the fact that they might be being forced to do it? Is this any better? What about the majority that use, not only the headscarf, but also turbans or skullcaps, and that truly believe on their convictions and wish (freely) to use it? In the end they have two options: disobey their religion, or compromise their education. This is not opening their lifes, but rather restraining them more.

Religion is part of one’s identity and denying that makes me have an itch on my stomach. Sure I’m aware that religion can preach extremist ideas. But if we want to proclaim a Europe of tolerance in a time of globalization, I certainly can’t think this is a good way to deal with the problem. France claimes that it is just defending its nation secularism, but I see as just another form of desguised intolerance.

3 strings to “how big is a crucifixe anyway?”

  1. darae says

    at least you do not have to live in a country which enforces such laws…,,1355371,00.html

  2. Nuno says

    The issue is not one of personal choice — it’s one of France being a secular country. That means there is a clear distinction between state and religion, which is what this law targets.

    Choice is still there — if Muslim women want to wear what is clearly a religious symbol (a T-shirt isn’t, no matter what is imprinted on it) and still attend school there are many state-run Muslim schools or even private ones.

    And this applies not only to Muslims, but all other religions too.

    Even if with this choice Muslim (or Christian) women want to practice their religion, I’m sure there are other countries where they will be free to do so.

  3. paulo says

    IMHO, a government should keep a neutral position about religion giving the individual the option to have it’s own believes (as long that that doesn’t interfere with others freedom). France secularism might have been the reason for it’s progressive thought, but it does not justify now this ban.

    Not that this is a question of numbers, but there not that many Muslim schools in France. Actually the first one was created last year only receiving 30 students. I guess that with this law a few more will pop up in the next few years. From the 12 million children that gets affected by this law, about 1.8 million are Muslim girls. 72 students were expelled so far but I wouldn’t be surprised if the number keeps rising since schools were instructed to not expel on the act but to try dialog first.

    Anyway, more than a question of numbers is a question of tolerance.