Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Patronising islamophobia

The French National Assembly has voted overwhelmingly to ban the burqa. There are all sorts of reasons to criticise the bill - I'd start by calling it a grossly illiberal move which violates the fundamental right in a free society to dress however the hell we like, motivated by a desire to whip up islamophobia for political gain - but Larvatus Prodeo put it best: a bunch of men (the National Assembly is 85% male) are telling women what to wear in order to stop men telling women what to wear. For their own good, of course.

And put like that, its clear what a patronising crock of shit this bill is. Women must be forced to be free, whether they like it or not. And that includes forcing them to be free from their own religious beliefs.

Islam, like Christianity, is a deeply misogynistic religion. But unlike the French National Assembly, I understand that some women buy into that bullshit. And that is their right. People are allowed to oppress themselves - they are allowed to make mistakes. We might disagree with what they do, but once we start telling people how to behave in their private lives by e.g. telling them how to dress, we're no better than the Mullahs and the Pope.

The bill isn't law yet - it still has to pass the scrutiny of the Senate and the Constitutional Court. But its one step closer to taking France in a very illiberal direction. Hopefully they'll recover from this madness before it is too late.