There were demonstrations all over the world yesterday against the French headscarf ban. I myself am not sure the ban is wise, but I understand the reasons behind it: the headscarf is just a symbol of a constellation of Islamic laws that are at direct odds with those of a truly tolerant, secular society. The sign up above sums it up.
I am not for a coercive secularism at all, but what will happen when these marchers who are protesting the headscarf ban in the name of religious freedom begin to protest the ban on stoning adulterers and amputating thieves’ hands in the name of religious freedom? If only Sarkozy had the courage to say, “All right, you can have your hijab. (And you dhimmis over there can have your kippas and crucifixes.) But to be a citizen of France you must explicitly and definitively renounce for all time the elements of Islamic law that are at variance with the idea of the equality of rights and dignity of all people: the permission for a husband to beat his wife, the subjugation of non-Muslims as inferiors, etc. Anyone attempting to spread those ideas in France will be prosecuted.” I won’t be holding my breath.
French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy has criticised worldwide protests against plans to ban Islamic headscarves from state schools.
Mr Sarkozy said the protests at the government proposals would only promote tension, misunderstandings and anger.
This from BBC News, with thanks to Nicolei.
Around 5,000 mainly Muslim marchers took part in a demonstration in Paris, which was fewer than expected.
There were also rallies elsewhere in France and Europe, the Middle East and in Indian-administered Kashmir.
President Jacques Chirac announced a ban on overtly religious symbols in schools last month after an official report into state secularism.
Many of France’s five million Muslims see it as an attack on their religious and human rights.
“When I came here, they told me France was the land of human rights. I found out it’s the opposite,” said 30-year-old Algerian-born Kawtar Fawzy at the Paris protest.
Very well, Kawtar. You want human rights? I hope then that you will join a protest soon against wife-beating in Islamic societies. Or against discrimination and harassment of Christians and Jews in Islamic societies. After all, those things are justified by the same Islamic law that mandates the headscarf. Kawtar, why don’t you take up the cause of human rights in Nigeria and protest the forcing of non-Muslim women to wear the headscarf? Don’t they have any human rights?
The demonstrations in Paris and other French cities were organised by a small group, the Party of French Muslims (PMF), which is regarded by many in France as a radical Islamist organisation, the BBC’s Alan Little reports from Paris.
An estimated 2,400 opponents of the ban rallied in London, where there was also a small counter-demonstration.
Outside the capital cities, including Brussels where about 1,000 protesters appeared, the largest demonstrations were held in the French regions. There were small rallies, too, in the Middle East.
An estimated 3,500 marched in Lille, 1,800 in Marseille, 1,500 in Mulhouse and hundreds in other French cities, police and organisers said.