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Banning the veil will not help Muslim women

Posted by on April 18, 2011 0 Comment

Even Muslim critics of the face veil, who insist that it has no sanction in their reading of Islam, do not necessarily support the French ban, says Yoginder Sikand

The French ban on the Muslim face veil that came into effect last week has added new dimensions to on-going debates about secularism, democracy, religion, identity, the freedom of choice and gender justice. There is no simple answer to many of the troubling questions that the ban has provoked. Unequivocally approving or condemning the ban, to take any particular side in the fiercely polarised debate about the ban, is not an easy option.

The French government has justified the ban on the grounds that visible demonstrations of religious symbols in public are an affront to the supposedly unique brand of French secularism.

That this step could well be simply an excuse to single out and target Muslims, an already heavily stigmatised community, has not been lost on perceptive observers. Nor, too, is the fact that the ban is undoubtedly an assault on democracy and freedom of choice, which are meant to be cardinal principles of the enlightenment project of which French secularists claim to be the heirs. Rediff News

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