Backed when I lived in Toronto, there were areas in the city where you would see veiled women. I feel the same way about veils as I do, well, Mormons in full Mormons dresses, or Jews in full Orthodox gear. The light bulb that goes off is: these are some pretty religious people, and they are probably fairly segregated from the community at large.
And most likely, these not people I would end up fraternizing with, nor am I someone they would want to hang out with anyway. But if they can navigate and do well within their own communities, what business is it of mine, or anyone else’s, to tell them how to live? The idea of “female repression” barely registers.
So could this whole big deal about banning the hijab in France be the result of a specific French interpretation of the veil?
According to a fact-finding project conducted last year that surveyed general public’s attitudes towards Muslims in the UK, France, and Germany:
The general European populations surveyed are more likely to associate the hijab with religiosity than fanaticism, oppression, or being against women. … [T]he general French population is more than three times as likely to associate fanaticism with the hijab than the French Muslim population.
As for the reason most frequently cited by French politicians in support of the ban?
Regarding the link between “repression of women” and the hijab, the views of the two communities differ by an even greater margin: 52 per cent of the general French population associate the hijab with repression, compared to 12 per cent of French Muslims.
If France thinks the deep-rooted social and structural problems behind integration can be solved by removing veils from the streets, then they’ve got another thing coming.
But then again, Sarkozy also supported the Swiss ban on minarets, so there you go.