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The Deep Colonial Roots of France’s Unveiling of Muslim Women


The Deep Colonial Roots of France’s Unveiling of Muslim Women

Jeanne Kay

Throughout the summer, as a growing number of southern French municipalities banned burkinis on their beaches, the measure was widely decried as Islamophobic, counter-productive and


This is liberal delusion. It is not freedom to wear these Halloweemcostums in public. It is the creation of discord and ill will. By imposing religious attire on a culture it divides one from another. Hasidic Jews and Others can wear whatever in their house of worship, private schools or their own parks, but in public only Monks who have taken vows of poverty should be permitted to differentiate themselves from the rest of us by their extreme dress. That is a simple rule. It works. Otherwise you are saying religious law trumps state law which it never should otherwise we will be burning witches again. Religion is dangerous.


Liberty includes a right to express ones identity, as long as it doesn’t interfere with the rights of others. France is requiring conformity so that no one is visually confronted by someone else’s religion. There are already divisions in cultures by race, income level, etc., and religion is just one more. Enlightened people should make an effort to treat the “other” with human dignity. I don’t see how this would result in rational people “burning witches”.


Rather than get into my own aversion to veils, which I consider symbols in both Islamic and Christian cultures of female subservience, I recommend the reading of Orhan Pamuk’s “Snow” (Kar in Turkish). The novel has as one subtheme the perverse practice of wearing the thing. You will either love or hate the work.

Since the evolution of the species homo sapiens some 150,000 ago, almost all members, given an environment of warmer climate, have been running about almost stark naked with the primary concern of just surviving.


The best thing for France to do at this point would be to just go ahead and ban ALL clothing. At least that wouldn’t be seen as such blatant religious persecution as what they are currently doing.


The burning of witches at the stake was done by the State. That they used Religion to rationalize this is no different then using some other ideology for the same such as executing people for treason, political ideology ,color of skin or for the lands they live on.

The State is every bit as dangerous as religion as witnessed by the 1 million plus killed at the hands of the US Military in Iraq. When one breaks it down it is not Religion doing that killing. It is persons or a person using the “authority” they claim to gain from Religion to do so , and this no different than claiming the “Authority” of Communism or Capitalism, or “The law” .

Dropping Napalm on a village in Vietnam and burning the people alive because they are deemed “Communists” is different than burning a person at the stake because they deemed a witch in what manner?


It must look very weird to the Muslim world that women in France can sit on the beach at Cannes with bare breasts while a woman in a burquini has to disrobe by order of the mayor and police.


What an excellent point.


Agree with DeProfundis. This is the French state flexing their muscles. Justification comes later. But it is by common sense standards nothing but a display of “fanatical extremism” on the part of the state. Their way of dressing, is not just about religion, it’s about tradition, and about their inner most identity.

Even during the communist dictatorships in Eastern Europe - intensely secular states that highly suppressed religion freedoms - and when one could spend a decade in prison for just speaking up, and where books/people were censured/spied routinely; traditional women’s clothing such as scarfs and other body covering gadgets, were left alone. So congrats to the democratic France.


Very interesting analysis. Colonialism always uses and imposes its own norms. That’s how it conditions those it colonizes to turn against their own cultural roots, customs, and inherent (tribal) wisdom.

Thank you, Ms. Kay, for presenting the matter of “the veil” in such a nuanced way.

“The deeply-rooted idea that universality is synonymous with Frenchness, that neutrality means what civilized French women wear, and that any deviance from this model, any attempt at diversity, is a sign of backwardness, inferiority and worse: a threat to the enlightened Republic. That it is up to others to “evolve” to their level of civilization. Of course, this ideological model has always been racist, and like any system of thought in which the identity of those in power is considered the only norm, is doomed to remain inescapably so.”


If your comment got any more twisted, paramedics would have to be called in.


There is a distinction, and it comes from the fact that the war against women & girls–under the threat of “witchcraft” lasted for several centuries.

No other war endured that long.


The French court has made the right decision in overturning the ban implemented by certain mayors.


If the subject was about making women and girls wear chasity belts over their clothes in public a great roar would be rising from these pages about how women are being oppressed by the misogynistic state! Oh it’s about the oppression and misogyny of a religion. Never mind! That’s perfectly alright !!! 666 !!! Evil is still evil even when wrapped in the doctrines of any and all religions.


How about the War that Monarchical Capitalism has been waging against We, The Rabble since the dawn of civilization?


I was in Vietnam and that war was about the two great religions birth in the 20th Century: Psuedo Free Market Consumerism versus Industrialized Militarism. The irony is that they were both founded on Monarchical Capitalism in which the vast majority of benefits in both societies accrued to the central power(s) and its 1%. Of course our country and the rest of The West has devolved into Industrialized Militarism!


Most, if not all, of the women sitting topless on the beach are doing so of their own free will. I think that most of the women wearing burkas are not doing so of their own free will even if they themselves believe they are. The oppression of women implemented by religious norms almost always bears the imprint of misogyny. Would you not be outraged if a religion demanded that women and girls wear bikinis in public?


Because the subject involves religion a lot of people here are seeing the state as doing the persecution. Sadly it is generally unrecognized that it is in fact the religion of Islam that is oppressing women through its requirement that they wear the burka - a blatant symbol of Islamic Mysogomy.


The most ubiquitous offenses made by one person against another are those made in the name of religion.


I certainly hope you aren’t incorrectly saying that I don’t recognize that. The fact is that ALL religions oppress not just women but the majority of it’s adherents. That is bad yes. What is far far worse and more insidious is when the state gets into the act as well. Especially when it targets one religion while allowing the rest to continue with their oppression simply because someone decides that oppression isn’t as blatant. If the French want to ban ALL religious clothing then I’m all for that. Singling out one groups religious clothing IS religious persecution. Just no getting around that regardless of the reasons however good some people think they may be. This is really no different then if Boston decided to ban the nuns habit as far as I can see. Which I wouldn’t have a problem with other then the fact that it is religious persecution again. The sooner religion is completely gone from human society the better since then religious persecution by the state or other religious groups would be impossible.