I came across this post in Freethought Blogs, “For those who are in love with the veil and keep going on about how it’s a ‘right’ and ‘choice’, here’s a video just for you.”
[When I commented it was an earlier version that included what the author thought was a young scared girl being led by morality police for being unveiled in Iran, but changed the post when she found out it was not. The author's edit did change the nature of the post to whether or not parents should be allowed to veil their children.]
Nobody disputes that in many countries and communities, not being veiled or covered in a particular way is punishable. The prohibition against showing a girl’s head or face in public is so strong in some areas that it led to the deaths of children who were attempting to flee a burning building in Saudi Arabia.
This is NOT a non-issue.
However, many people (including myself) are incensed by France’s continued campaign of forced “secularization” that has included a ban on the veil. When I read Namazie’s blog post, it seemed squarely aimed at people who shared my views on the topic, and frankly it really made me mad.
Here is one of my comments on that post:
“Apparently we have a failure to communicate.
When someone from the U.S. starts ranting about “rights” and “liberty” we are actually talking about “rights” and “liberty” we are not endorsing choices, making value judgments about choices, or even saying that the “choice” one makes is free of coercion. When we rant about “rights” and “liberty” we might be talking about something we absolutely loath, that we wish would be wiped off the face of the earth, that we understand is oppressive and terrible and that no thinking feeling human being would endorse.
We just mean that the police shouldn’t fine you, jail you, beat you, or kill you if you do such a thing.
To say that a veil or a different covering or any other religiously motivated clothing (such as Mormon undergarments, Jewish Orthodox hats, monk’s robes, or whatever else) is a “right” and a “choice” is not saying that wearing such coverings are free choices, devoid of social or psychological coercion, or the coolest thing since Swiss Cheese.
It is saying that the police shouldn’t pull you out of your home and rip your clothes off.
Again – the fact that wearing the veil to many girls and women is absolutely the product of social or psychological coercion does not negate the fascist nature of government essentially disrobing people because the daddy-state doesn’t like it.
More moderate Muslims who do not cover their faces were unhappy with the law in France – not because they think covering your face is awesome – but because they are smart enough to know that such laws are counter-productive in helping alleviate the isolation those women experience.
To outlaw hijab or even just the veil is like using women in a tug-of-war – each side holding onto an arm so that she cannot freely move. Instead, I think a better tactic is to do what we can to get the other person to let go.”