Another story hit the news today – a woman here in France was denied citizenship because she was ‘too extremist’ in her religion, and didn’t fit the criteria of a French woman – i.e. – liberated, secular, etc. The woman wore the burka because her husband ordered her to, and not because she particularly wanted to. But she wasn’t about to remove it, because her husband ordered her to keep it on. The judge decided that because of that, she couldn’t become a Frenchwoman.
Two diverging opinions were expressed by two different associations ( it’s always the most vocal ‘associations’ that speak up first.) The first, from the immigration association, said it was regrettable that a secular country should be so intolerant of someone’s religion. The second association, a women’s rights association, claimed it was an excellent decision, and it was about time women’s rights were taken into account in immigration. So there are definitely different opinions on this. I’m of the opinion that if you want to live in a theocracy, then you should move to Saudi Arabia, and if you want to live in a secular country you better leave your religion at home in private and not expect the law to uphold your religious beliefs.
I consider myself fairly tolerant. I adore my cousin, for example, even though she persists on sending me anti-Obama propaganda (I won’t hide that I am planning to vote for him) and I don’t lose my temper like my husband does when I’m behind a bad driver on the road. Not everyone is Alain Proust. I think everyone should be free to believe in God, the Easter Bunny, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and I believe that each political party has its good and bad sides, and that you can vote for whoever you want to, even write Micky Mouse on the ballet for all I care. It’s your decision to make. But I’m serious about women’s rights, and I think the judge got it right when he told the woman her beliefs simply were not compatible with French society. There is no way I would ever live in Saudi Arabia, and if my husband told me to wear a burka, I’d head straight for the divorce court. Women have fought long and hard to get the right to vote, wear what they wish, and marry who they wish. Not so long ago, we had no rights – not to property, not to say who we wanted to marry (or get out of a marriage) and rape was not a punishable crime. It behooves us to remember that, and to realize that sometimes a little intolerance is required in order to stand up for the fragile rights we have.
Good call Mr. le judge.

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