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Debate: Ban on Muslim veils in France

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Is the French ban on Muslim veils in public buildings justified?

Background and context

The controversy began in 1989, when three individuals were suspended for not removing their veils in class at a middle school. Later that year, the Conseil d'Etat had ruled that the veils were compatabile with secularity in public schools. Even later that year, the minister of education Lionel Jospin declared that school teachers had the right to ban the veils on a case by case basis. In 1994 due to more incidents relating to women wearing veils in school, a new memorandum was issued explaining the difference between "discreet" religious objects being brought into school and conspicuous. Due to this, many new protests against the ban began and from the 1990's into the early 2000's a number of students were suspended or expelled from school. Half of these being annuled by French courts.

In December 2003, President Jacques Chirac decided that a law should explicitly forbid any visible sign of religious affiliation, in the spirit of laïcité. The secularity law, sometimes referred to as "the veil law", was voted in by the French parliament in March 2004. It forbids the wearing of any "ostensible" religious articles, including the Islamic veil, the Jewish kippa, and large Christian crosses. The law permits discreet signs of faith, such as small crosses, Stars of David, and hands of Fatima. This parallels laws in Muslim countries such as Indonesia and Turkey, which also ban the Islamic veil in their public schools.

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Religion: Is the ban tolerant/respectful of the Muslim faith?

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Yes

  • France has a very low Muslim population. A French poll released last year clearly states that less than 3% of the French population is comprised of Muslim people. This is an extremely low amount and will affect fewer than a million people.
  • A ban on veils only applies in public spaces. When around the house, the veil would still be okay. When in public, it is very easy just to take off the veil for a little while.
  • If Muslims don't like French policy on the veil, they can move elsewhere. These people have chosen to live in France and if they do disagree with the policy, they can chose to move to a different country. France is the only country with this law.
  • The ban only applies in public buildings. Because this is only a ban in French public buildings, Muslims are free to wear the hijab anywhere else. Because there is such a low Muslim poulation, and the hijab is allowed in most places, it's really not very hard just to abide by the French laws that have been in place for over a decade.


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No

  • Wearing the traditional veil is part of Muslim religious practice. The wearing of this clothing item is a big part of the Muslim religion. Banning this is ridiculous and will upset the Muslim population of France. Saying that you cannot practice your religion is complete discrimination by France and is intolerant of the Muslim people of France, who should be free to do what they like and what is a part of their religion.
  • Another Dimension: This ban proves Tablibans were right because if law makers can frame this bill ordering / influencing people not to wear the veil, then why don't they covering the body as well. If their logic can overrule personal freedom / life style of individuals then why can't their local traditions force people to dress in their prefered fashion? If they expel on wearing scarf why don't they charge people for wearing certaining styles? We must remember that veil are not only limited to Islam or Muslim world but apart of formal dressing of royal, nobles, knights, elite and dignities in Europe for centuries having roots in church as well. Scarf was purely part of European dressing.
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Harm: Is the wearing of the Muslim veil harmful?

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Yes

  • French people have Islamophobia; ban on veil softens this problem. This may sound silly, but it is a fact that quite a large number of French people actually have something called 'Islamophobia' and are afraid of Muslim people. This probably sounds ridiculous but it is a fact. The French government has had this ban in place since the mid-1990s and there is a lot of controversy around it. The main reason for this ban of the Muslim veil is that a lot of French people do have Islamophobia and the French Government dealt with the problem. This means that, a) French people won't know who follows Islam, and b) French people with Islamophobia won't be afraid of them.
  • Muslims lose-out in various ways by wearing the hijab (unfortunate, but true). As well as this, and perhaps even more importantly, there is an identity issue associated with the wearing of the veil. Identification for criminal or professional purposes is hindered, meaning that justice and professional activities are more complex, cost more to the French population, and are more likely to result in an incorrect evaluation or negative outcome.
  • The Muslim veil is a mark of separation Muslims that wear the hijab are creating a separation between themselves and other people in a society. This is particularly true because the hijab is designed to conceal a woman's appearance from others in society (namely men). In this way, the hijab is clearly designed to isolate and separate a woman from others in a society. This is unhealthy for a woman and for other individuals that would benefit from interacting more deeply with that individual.
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No

  • Muslim veils cannot harm anyone physically and should not harm anyone emotionally. A piece of cloth on the head of a person can't practically harm anyone physically. If any psychological disturbance or fear is aroused in anyone due to the action of wearing Hijab, then that fear is irrational and the subject who experiences it needs to be educated. The particular citizens in France who have the so-called "Islamophobia" should be given a course which explains to them in detail the irrationality of their belief or fear. Passing a law that tells Muslims not to wear Hijab for someone else's baseless fear is targeting the stimulus for the disease, and not the disease itself.
  • The traditional Muslim veil is just a head dress. It is not harmful. The traditional Muslim veil that women who follow Islam is simply a clothing item sacred to the Islam religion which is worn over the head. It cannot possibly harm anyone so there is no reason that Muslims shouldn't be aloud to wear it in a certain country. The veil is not harmful and is just worn as part of the religion.
  • Intolerance of Muslim veils can be cited as racism. If French people don't like it and can't accept it, then that is racism.


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Racism: Is it wrong to think that the French are being racist?

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Yes

  • Islam is not a race. You can't exactly say that this ban is racist because racism is insulting or bullying against another race. Technically, Islam is not a race so this is not racist of the French government.
  • Religions shouldn't be given preferential treatment by the government. Islam in France has a very low population. Those people who are Muslims in France have chosen to live there, so they're expected to follow laws of the French government. If they're not happy with the laws, the people do have a choice to move countries. Muslims in France should not be given preferential treatment over a fashion that is banned by the government.


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No

  • France is depriving Muslims of their religious practice. Telling followers of Islam they can't wear their traditional hijab is just racism from the French government. Muslims have a right to wear what they want, and in this case their traditional head dress. This is harmful to nobody and is simply racism.


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Pro/con resources

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Yes

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No



See also

External links and resources


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