A Veil Closes France’s Door to Citizenship

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by Principessa, Jul 19, 2008.

  1. Principessa

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    This takes ethnocentrism and fear of terrorists too far. :angryfire2: I wonder if they also refuse citizenship to Jews who wear Yarmulkes daily? :confused: If not I am sure it is soon to come. :mad:

    A Veil Closes France’s Door to Citizenship

    By KATRIN BENNHOLD

    LA VERRIÈRE, France — When Faiza Silmi applied for French citizenship, she worried that her French was not quite good enough or that her Moroccan upbringing would pose a problem

    “I would never have imagined that they would turn me down because of what I choose to wear,” Ms. Silmi said, her hazel eyes looking out of the narrow slit in her niqab, an Islamic facial veil that is among three flowing layers of turquoise, blue and black that cover her body from head to toe.

    But last month, France’s highest administrative court upheld a decision to deny citizenship to Ms. Silmi, 32, on the ground that her “radical” practice of Islam was incompatible with French values like equality of the sexes.

    It was the first time that a French court had judged someone’s capacity to be assimilated into France based on private religious practice, taking laïcité — the country’s strict concept of secularism — from the public sphere into the home.

    The case has sharpened the focus on the delicate balance between the tradition of Republican secularism and the freedom of religion guaranteed under the French Constitution, and how that balance may be shifting. Four years ago, a law banned religious clothing in public schools. Earlier this year, a court in Lille annulled a marriage on request of a Muslim husband whose wife had lied about being a virgin. (The government later demanded a review of the court decision.)

    So far, citizenship has been denied on religious grounds in France only when applicants were believed to be close to fundamentalist groups.
    .
    The ruling on Ms. Silmi has received almost unequivocal support across the political spectrum, including among many Muslims. Fadela Amara, the French minister for urban affairs, called Ms. Silmi’s niqab “a prison” and a “straitjacket.”
    “It is not a religious insignia but the insignia of a totalitarian political project that promotes inequality between the sexes and is totally lacking in democracy,” Ms. Amara, herself a practicing Muslim of Algerian descent, told the newspaper Le Parisien in an interview published Wednesday.

    François Hollande, the leader of the opposition Socialist Party, called the ruling “a good application of the law,” while Jacques Myard, a conservative lawmaker elected in the district where Ms. Silmi lives, demanded that face-covering veils be outlawed.

    In an interview at her home in a public housing complex southwest of Paris, the first she has given since her citizenship was denied, Ms. Silmi told of her shock and embarrassment when she found herself unexpectedly in the public eye. Since July 12, when Le Monde first reported the court decision, her story has been endlessly dissected on newspaper front pages and in late-night television talk shows.
    “They say I am under my husband’s command and that I am a recluse,” Ms. Silmi said during an hourlong conversation in her apartment in La Verrière, a small town 30 minutes by train from Paris. At home, when no men are present, she lifts her facial veil and exposes a smiling, heart-shaped face.

    “They say I wear the niqab because my husband told me so,” she said. “I want to tell them: It is my choice. I take care of my children, and I leave the house when I please. I have my own car. I do the shopping on my own. Yes, I am a practicing Muslim, I am orthodox. But is that not my right.

    Ms. Silmi declined to have her photograph taken, saying that she and her husband were uncomfortable with the idea.

    Eight years ago, Ms. Silmi married Karim, a French national of Moroccan descent, and moved to France with him. Their four children, three boys and a girl, ages 2 to 7, were born in France. In 2004, Ms. Silmi applied for French citizenship, she said, “because I wanted to have the same nationality as my husband and my children.” But her request was denied a year later because of “insufficient assimilation” into France.

    She appealed, invoking the right to religious freedom. But in late June, the Council of State, the judicial institution with final say on disputes between individuals and the public administration, upheld the ruling.

    “She has adopted a radical practice of her religion, incompatible with essential values of the French community, particularly the principle of equality of the sexes,” the ruling said.

    Ms. Silmi, who resides in France as a legal immigrant, will not lose her right to stay. She has given herself until September to decide whether to make another attempt to acquire citizenship.

    Emmanuelle Prada-Bordenave, the government commissioner who reported to the Council of State, said Ms. Silmi’s interviews with social services revealed that “She lives in total submission to her male relatives. She seems to find this normal, and the idea of challenging it has never crossed her mind.”

    The unease with a very small but growing number of Muslim women wearing face veils is not unique to France. In Denmark, the government barred judges from wearing religious garments and symbols after a rightist political party whose support it needs campaigned for such a ban. Its campaign featured posters showing a judge in a niqab. In Britain last year, a schoolteacher wearing a niqab was told to go home. Several Belgian cities have enacted outright bans on burqas.
    M’hammed Henniche, of the Union of Muslim Associations in the Seine-St.-Denis district north of Paris, says he fears that the French ruling may open the door to what he considers ever more arbitrary interpretations of what constitutes “radical” Islam.

    “What is it going to be tomorrow?” he asked. “The annual pilgrimage to Mecca? The daily prayer?

    “This sets a dangerous precedent,” he said. “Religion, so far as it is personal, should be kept out of these decisions.”

    In a sign of the nature of some of the criteria used to evaluate Ms. Silmi’s fitness to become French, the government commissioner approvingly noted in her report that she was treated by a male gynecologist during her pregnancies.

    The Silmis say they live by a literalist interpretation of the Koran. They do not like the term Salafism, although they say literally it means following the way of the Prophet Muhammad and his companions.

    “But today ‘Salafist’ has come to mean political Islam; people who don’t like the government and who approve of violence call themselves Salafists,” said her husband, a soft-spoken man who bears two physical signs of devotion in Islam: a beard and a light bruising on his forehead caused by bows in prayer. “We have nothing to do with them.”

    His wife said that in 2000 she decided to wear the niqab, which is usually worn on the Arabian Peninsula, because in her eyes her traditional Moroccan djelaba — a long flowing garment with a head scarf — was not modest enough. “I don’t like to draw men’s looks,” she said. “I want to belong to my husband and my husband only.”

    France is home to about five million Muslims, three out of five of them French citizens, experts estimate. Criteria for granting French citizenship include “assimilation,” which focuses on how well the candidate speaks French. Ms. Silmi’s French is fluent.


    SNIP
     
  2. Jason

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    The French legal position is strict, but I don't think there is anything particularly new in this case.

    In Britain there is now a debate about the causes of tension between indigenous and Islamic populations, with the veil cited as a major cause of tension (and probably THE major cause).

    Issues around wearing a veil are lively. Holding a conversation with a woman wearing a veil is a horrible experience as you get no facial expression whatsoever. In a telephone conversation both sides are equally disadvantaged, but a veil disadvantages only one party. Whatever the law might recommend the reality is that veil-wearing women are at a serious disadvantage in the workplace. The veil is problematic in many spheres of life - where identity has to be checked against a photograph (eg getting on a bus for bus pass holders), using a bank (you are not supposed to walk in with face covered).

    I understand that the veil is NOT a religious requirement of Islam. My view is that in the interests of everyone, particularly the veil-wearing women, we should work towards a time when no-one wants to wear it or is pressured or forced to wear it. France's position is severe and I can see problems with it, but the general direction is one that we must all want. Veils are an abomination.
     
  3. B_Nick4444

    B_Nick4444 New Member

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    Cheers to the French! :beerchug2::clap:
     
  4. B_Nick4444

    B_Nick4444 New Member

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    sorry -- the charge of ethnocentrism is not compelling


     
  5. ManlyBanisters

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    In Saudi Arabia, for example, there is no free public practice of religion - and even private practises can get you in trouble. In a significant number of muslem countries there is a strong expectation that a non-muslem woman will respect the cultural norm and at least dress in a way that is 'sensitive' to expectations if not downright different from how she would normally dress. Also in Saudi citizenship is denied, I believe, to anyone who is not a muslem.

    Now - I don't agree with that and, guess what, I don't visit or intend to live in those countries.

    I'm not saying intolerence should be met with intolerence - and indeed this woman is Moroccan, not Saudi, nor Iranian, etc. - but there does seem to be a double standard going on from the more fundamental side of Islam. And that sits uneasy with me.

    France is very, no fiercely proud and protective of its secularism - anyone who knows jack about the revolution and the various religious wars and persecutions over the centuaries here will have some kind of understanding as to why. Even in private Catholic schools here you will not find images of Jesus or crosses in the classrooms, that is saved for the catechism classes. The line is very clear - there is a sentiment here that fears that line is being blurred behind the cover of accusations of racial discrimination.

    This has nothing to do with terrorism.

    EDIT:
    Are you sure? Then I can only surmise that you haven't read up terribly much on the situation in France. Yes, there are problems with racism (specifically again North Africans and Turks) and even anti-semitism - but that is not what this is about.
     
    #5 ManlyBanisters, Jul 19, 2008
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2008
  6. simcha

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    Manly, you have hit it on the head. Really brilliant post about what is actually going on in France with a real historical perspective. The revolution wasn't just about getting rid of the monarchy there. It was also very anti-religion. The revolution remodelled "St. Sulpice" in Paris: "Nineteenth-century redecorations to the interior, after some Revolutionary damage when Saint-Sulpice became a Temple of Victory, include the murals of Eugène Delacroix, that adorn the walls of the side chapel." - wikipedia

    And to this very day the Vth French Republic owns every Church and all Church property in France. It allows the Church to hold services there on condition that the Church allows all people free access to use the Churches as museums. So while mass is being said in Notre Dame, for example, you will see tourists milling about and snapping photos.

    There is still a basic mistrust of anything religious in France. Yes, there is anti-semitism (including Jews and Arabs) because both groups are traditionally seen as outsiders. If you go back far enough to Charlemagne, he fought Muslims in the South to push them back into and then out of Spain.

    France has a long history of being fiercely anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic. It's ingrained in the culture. But most recently in the modern era it's mostly translated into France as a secular state that is mistrustful of anything to do with religion.
     
    #6 simcha, Jul 19, 2008
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2008
  7. Calboner

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    I think that when Americans read reports like this, they (we) tend to assume that immigrants in European countries have wishes and aspirations similar to those that bring immigrants to the United States; that is, we tend to assume that these people have come to enjoy civic freedoms and economic opportunities that are not available to them in their countries of origin, and that they want to become fully acculturated members of their new country. I don't pretend to be any expert in these matters, but I gather from what I have read that such assumptions are far off the mark. No doubt there are some Muslim immigrants who fit the picture, but far more do not. Yes, they want to be free of the governments of their countries of origin, but not because they accept Western ideas of individualism and equality: rather, because they abhor those governments for being secular rather than properly Islamic. They seek economic opportunity, but have no interest in assimilating themselves to Western ways. And the governments of most European countries, as I understand, tend to encourage this isolation under the idea that they are respecting cultural differences.
     
  8. SpeedoGuy

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    Seems France welcomes immigrants as low wage laborers but not as potential citizens.

    Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite, non?
     
  9. Drifterwood

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    There is an irony that you can only be free in regards to the freedom criteria that "we" have. The imposition of orthodox Francism.

    The other problem that I have with this ruling, is that it will be viewed retrospectively, in that many will now look at citizens who do wear the veil and consider them not really part of their community. Not that many would have anyway in France.
     
  10. tiggerpoo

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    I agree with the French decision. I find the veils, robes and the noise eminating from mosques arrogent and completely offensive.

    At South African airports religous meeting places are forbidden. However, there are notices guiding one to the airport mosque/prayer room. No place for Hindus, Jews, Christians, or anyone else. Only for Muslims. It is so "in you face".

    Maybe baby you haven't experienced this kind of terrorism. But that's what it is.
     
  11. xenon-naturist

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    If immigrants don't like it in France, why bother going there?

    In Britain at least huge numbers of moslem immigrants (in particular women) do not work - it is Poles and eastern europeans who come here, work hard and get on with life. They don't sit around screaming that they have rights and we must defer to them.

    In any case the woman this case isn't a low wage labourer, she has to do her wifely duty to her husband and stay at home. The idea that she must hide her face, in case men see it, is, frankly, ridiculous. People fought for freedoms and liberties in France, these didn't just happen... and if they are not defended they won't be there much longer.
     
  12. ManlyBanisters

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    Don't be so fucking stupid! Of course it isn't terrorism. Explain, please, how that causes terror.

    You are contradicting yourself - People fought and died for freedom but if Janet Foerigner doesn't behave like everyone else she can fuck off home. So does she have religious freedom in your scenario or not?

    And you clearly don't understand the case. She is perfectly entitled to stay in France. She has been turned down for citizenship.
     
  13. earllogjam

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    You mean the French are racists? No, go on...:cool::rolleyes:
     
  14. Guy-jin

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    Not completely relevant, but: There's this wild misconception that the niqabs, burqas and hijabs in general are religious garments. They aren't. They're cultural.

    Islam does not force women to wear veils--certain Islamic cultures do. The Qur'an only demands modesty of its followers, not these full body/face coverings. It's similar to how some Christians feel the bible requires people to wear long sleeves, long pants, hats, veils and so forth, only there are far larger and more powerful sects of Islam that buy into that than there are Christians at this time.

    In my view, the male-dominated Islamic cultures of many of the nations that require the wearing of the veil or burqa force these things on women as a way of keeping them submissive. It is no different from the formerly male-dominated Christian cultures of the world demanding similar things.

    Anyway, my point is that this is a cultural, not religious issue. It isn't France saying, "your religion is unacceptable", it's them saying, "your culture is unacceptable." If you're going to say that's not their right as a nation of people, where are you going to draw the line? And why aren't you similarly "outraged" by an Islamic country that demands women wear hijabs? Or maybe you are, and you think all countries should abide by America's cultural position, which is that everyone ought to be free to wear what they want in public (as long as they're wearing something over their privates)?

    Anyway, I've always ascribed to the idea that it's not my place to tell others their culture is wrong, whether they're French or Moroccan. It doesn't mean I agree with their culture, but it comes with an understanding that if I go into their country, I abide by their cultural rules, and similarly, if they come to my country, they abide by mine.
     
  15. Guy-jin

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  16. ballsaplenty2156

    ballsaplenty2156 New Member

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    Aren't these some of the same people on here, that so joyfully take part in bashing America?
    Looks like the chickens have come back to roost.
     
  17. Drifterwood

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    On topic, this is a very interesting situation. As far as I understand it, the French are saying that this woman's culture is so diametrically opposed to "French" culture that it excludes her from being part of their nation in terms of citizenship.This suggests that culture is immutable which is patently wrong. It also shows an institutional opposition to diversity, which itself is contrary to the nature of the European Union.

    I have no problem with my country's culture evolving. I also think that if you feel your culture is being eroded, then it can't have been very strong in the first place.
     
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