Fourth quarter blog post

Here is my fourth quarter blog post

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Is France's "Secularism" Democratic?

A little while ago in class, we briefly discussed how France does not allow students to wear headscarves or other religious attire in public schools. This law was made in an effort to create a completely secular society in France, and has been expanded upon in 2011 when a law was made that banned the wearing of full-face coverings in public at all. In making laws like these, France is stripping people of their religious freedom. This, in my opinion, is unjust and should not be happening in a government like France's that is supposed to be a democracy.

The law regarding French public schools is that no one can wear "conspicuous religious symbols".  The word "conspicuous" when applying to religious attire can be interpreted in many different ways. Necklaces with small crosses or Stars of David may be very noticeable and therefore "conspicuous" to some, but everybody thinks it is "conspicuous" or noticeable if someone is wearing a headscarf or veil. Therefore, the use of the word "conspicuous" seems to make the law aimed towards specifically Muslim religious attire. The law is completely unfair in this way; the interpretation of the word "conspicuous" could easily lead to the singling out and discrimination of Muslim students.

France extended this discrimination when the law against concealing one's face in public was made. Although the law does not directly mention the niqab or burka, garments worn by some Muslims that cover the face, it is in fact targeted against Muslims who choose to wear one of these. This can be seen through what types of face coverings are exempt from the law. These include: "masks used in 'traditional' activities". The law's use of the word "traditional" is interesting, since the word connotes something that has been done for a long time by many generations and is very important to many people. The niqab and burka certainly fit this definition for Muslims who choose to wear them, since they are a symbol of their religion, which has been around for quite a few generations. But the burka and niqab are not exempt from the law, when according to this they truly should be. Not only does the law contradict itself like this, it also of course takes away these people's right to religious freedom by denying them the ability to express their religion in public.

Both of these French laws are incredibly discriminatory towards France's large Muslim
population, and strip away these people's religious freedom. This is why I believe the law is wrong and should not exist in a democracy like France.