In John 10:10 Jesus promises His followers abundant life. This blog is about my life as His follower.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The burqa can symbolize a lot of things

The new French Burqa law was announced this week.

The law requires that people who wear burqas or nigab, two versions of the full-body, face covering, robe worn by some Muslim women, will pay a fine of €150 (about $190) and may also require that they attend a course on "republican values".

The burqa is a garment worn by religious Muslim women that covers the entire body. It is worn as a symbol of physical modesty. It was mandatory under the Taliban in Afghanistan. To my way of thinking, the fact that women in fundamentalist Muslim communities are required to wear the burqa, makes the burqa a product of cultural submission that reflects the subordinate status — in a real sense, the chattel status — to which women are consigned in Islamist ideology. But it would seem that Freedom in Islam is seen as perfect submission to Allah. That is the only life choice the voluntarily shrouded woman makes, and the burqa is emblematic of all the doctrinal subjugation that necessarily follows.

I think that as Americans we find outlawing a religious symbol to be wrong thinking. Although we may hate what the burka symbolizes in terms of how women are being treated, we tend to respect the right of others to choose their religion. But I read an interesting article over at The Wall Street Journal entitled To ban the burqa - or not , where one of the authors, Bret Stephenson, pointed out that the US is not as free as we like to think. Stephenson point out how America banns and prosecutes polygamy (no matter what a group's religion believes), because we believe it's inherently abusive to women and families. Stephenson also pointed out that every culture has social norms and uses as an example that in America we would not allow a nudist to walk down the street in nothing but his sneakers, that we only allow a certain latitude in individual choice. Stephenson makes the point that "Plainly the French overwhelmingly believe wearing the burqa/niqab crosses the line."

My son Devon directed me to an interesting article recently over at NRO, There Oughtn't be a Law. As I read the article I found the way the author, Andy McCarthy, used the burqua as a dual symbol fascinating.

McCarthy reminds the reader of many events from the last couple of years, five of which are:

Derek Fenton being fired from his job with the Jersey Transit Authority. (Remember, he's the pastor from Florida, who burned pages from the Koran to protest the Ground Zero mosque. Don't get me wrong; what Fenton did disgusts me. But in America we allow people to say all manner of things, to even burn the American flag if they so choose. People protesting prop 8 in California, the vote about the legalization of Gay marriage, were allowed to burn Bibles on the steps of Mormon churches. So why was Fenton fired for something that he did in his free time that did not result in being charged for any crime?)

The Obama administration joining the Organization of the Islamic Conference in a UN resolution designed to make blasphemy against Islam illegal.

Yale University press refusal to publish Jayette Klausen's book entitled "The Cartoons that Shook the World" until the over cartoon depictions of Mohammed were purged from the book.

A New Jersey judge's refusal of a protective order to a woman being serially raped by a Muslim man she was trying to divorce — after all, the jurist reasoned, the man was simply following his religious principles, under which his wife was no more than a vessel, bereft of any right to say no.

Uniformed police in Deerborn, Michigan arresting Christian Evangelists for handing out gospels of John. This was said to be a "crackdown on disturbing the peace" because Deerborn is a heavily Muslim populated area.

After the reminders McCarthy makes these comments utilzing the burqa as a symbol that I find fascinating:

"It is the ethos of self-loathing. That is our burqa: our feebleness, our lack of cultural confidence. To shed it, we will have to rediscover why the principles it cloaks are superior and worth fighting for. If we don’t, the law won’t save us any more than it will save France."

What do you think, has America succumbed to preemptive capitulation to the point where we now have our own burqa of lack of cultural confidence?


sarah said...

very thought provoking post. I find it really sad when I see these women....I believe we should all be and women. It really hurts me to read or hear what some people do to others including in countries that control women to the point of treating them less than

Tracy said...

Sarah, it absolutely breaks my heart when I read about what life is like in Saudi, Afghanistan, Iraq (any country dominated by extremist Muslim mandates) for women. If you check out my reading list on the right side, about mid way down, you'll see that I've read a few books this year by women about their life in these countries; I found it hard to handle as I read these accounts. That's why I was so outraged when I read the account I allude to here where in this country, in America, that judge in New Jersey (I've linked it to the original article) refused a protection order to the Muslim woman who was being repeatedly raped by the husband who she was trying to divorce.

RCUBEs said...

You brought up a tough issue sister Tracy. It's hard as debates about building mosques in different spots, including to close to where I live are more and more heated.

Islam's Shariah law which includes women wearing these veils reminds us of inequality with the way women are treated. Such rules are opposite of what American's beliefs are based on.

During one of the meetings in a place close to where I live and people who are opposed to having a mosque built here, people just agreed, it's hard to separate Islam from their Shariah law. Their foundation is what everyone is looking at.

God bless and may He protect this nation!

Michelle said...

I just want to sigh when I read this...and not a sigh of relief. There's too much information here that just makes me angry and grrrr!

I wish all of "us" could be aware of what is going on this country and others around us! We just choose to go on and ignore.

David-FireAndGrace said...

As Americans we have crossed a line. We have, as a culture, decided that we don't really need God. Look 80% of Americans believe in God, however; only 20% of those actually believe the Bible is more moral than their own thoughts and feelings.

Without a moral compass, we are destined to be lost.

As Americans we must allow religious freedom and that will soon include multiple marriage partners. We may eventually be able to legally marry animals. We won't stop the burning of Qurans, and the building of mosques. (Does this sound like and immigration problem?)

It is the natural progression of sin to legitimize itself. If everyone's doing it, then it must be OK.

I simply try to remember that Jesus, Paul, Daniel, Moses and Joseph lived in hostel lands. Some had a huge variety of religions and deities, as well as diverse cultural practices.

God help us.

S. Adarsh Martin said...


photogr said...

When in Rome do as the Romans do. When in America do as the Americans do.

I would hate to see women placed in this submissive position based on ancient laws or a belief that negate women to a second class citizen based on their religion.

I don't think Jesus or Paul had this in mind when he accepted women followers to be disciples in the new Christian fiath.

Liam said...

Thank you for an interesting post on a very thought provoking topic. The western ideology supports that idea that religious tolerance is a good thing, yet in tolerating the burka we are being asked to tolerate that which is a sign of intolerance (towards women).

Perhaps too much is being made of the issue; does banning the burka help Muslim women? Does burning the Koran help America's foreign policy goals? If this issue was given less attention it might be less of an issue.

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