Banning the Burka


Written by Olly Price
19 Monday 19th July 2010

It's a shame, I could have made it as a Burka model. But Sarkozy finally got his way and managed to outlaw the Burka from French streets this week. It’s amazing how banning a controversial item of clothing has been spun as an act of libertarianism. French Justice Minister, Michele Alliot-Marie said it was a victory for "Values of freedom against all the oppressions which try to humiliate individuals; values of equality between men and women". Oh, so presumably this redresses the balance for male bank-robbers who have been forbidden to wear balaclavas and facemasks into Santander for decades... Pah! A largely male National Assembly tells women what they can and can’t wear, oh, the irony!

Feminists must be so confused. Is it a blow to oppressive husbands, or a blow to women who don’t want to be perceived as sex objects? Defiant, fully veiled Muslims could be about to become the bra burners of the 21st century. Which is even more ironic. What a mess. It’s a lethal cocktail of all three dinner table taboos: religion, politics and sex.
This bodes well for the newspapers because finding these taboos mixed together is the secret of a great news story (Religion + sex = Catholic Priest sex abuse scandal, sex + politics = David Laws scandal, religion + politics = Obama’s fundamentalist preacher scandal), but it’s pretty boring for the rest of us. A few veiled religious fundamentalists obscuring their sexuality from prying eyes in Harrods isn’t going to stop truck drivers reading Nuts magazine, just as Jordan flashing her silicon in the jungle isn’t going to free Saudi Arabian women from the tyranny and oppression of the patriarchy. Western and Arabic expectations of women are obviously vastly different but equally un-feminist in that both are essentially based on the woman’s role as an object of sexual desire. So frankly both can get down from their high horses. Something Sarkozy will never do so long as he has to stand next to Carla Bruni.


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  • Guest: timothy.sennett
    Mon 25 - Jun - 2012, 14:21
    As much as I dislike the sight of the niqab/burka (mostly because they are extremely anti-social garmets, rather than for their association with Islam), I think governments should not be in the business of regulating the clothes we wear in public. That said, I'm British and this is a French law, so it's really none of my darn business.
  • Guest: i38dd
    Mon 02 - Aug - 2010, 15:06
    The burka is not a symbol of Oppression, it is a symbol of an Islamic women's connection to God. that is like banning the Yarmulka for jewish men or cross necklaces for christians. Next thing is to walk all muslims to the airport and kick them out of france. There is ZERO Libertarian ethics involved here. A Libertarian would try to understand a persons need to wear this clothing item and read up on the subject before helping to pass laws in forbiddance of the Burka. I am not a Muslim and I was raised Catholic, even I know this is ridiculous and believe the Pope should chastise the French for this. What if they take away his clothes?