Will France stand strong on new law to ban niqabs?
The increasing focus on France’s Muslims – who number at least 5 million, the largest such population in western Europe – comes with presidential elections a year away and support for a far-right party growing. A recent palpable rise in tensions has also been boosted by fears of a mass migration of Muslims due to disarray in the Arab world.We better hope that's not the case, but you can be sure the AP very much wants negligence to take place.
Interior Minister Claude Gueant put it bluntly Monday.
“This growth in the number of (Muslims) and a certain number of behaviors cause problems,” he said in remarks carried on French radio. “There is no reason why the nation should accord to one particular religion more rights than religions that were formerly anchored in our country.”
France’s challenge is evident in the Paris suburb of Trappes. It has a large Muslim population and is one of the few towns in France where veiled women are occasionally seen on the streets.
At the town hall, the subject of the impending crackdown is taboo. Some predict police will turn a blind eye to any veils to keep things tranquil.
The topic of Tuesday‘s roundtable by Sarkozy’s conservative UMP party is officially secularism, a foundational value of France. However, the talks are expected to take up distinctly Muslim social issues like halal food in school cafeterias or demands by some for separate hours for women at public swimming pools.I wonder if schools should stop serving food and all students should bring their own if that's what it takes to solve that issue?
Its backers say debate is needed to address evolutions in French society – such as a growing demand for mosque building and Islamic butchers – since the country’s 1905 law formally separated the state from the Catholic Church.
Sarkozy did something positive as a step with one of his staffers:
Sarkozy fired his adviser on integration, Abderrahmane Dahmane, last month for castigating party leader Jean-Francois Cope, who is organizing the talks.These are precisely whom Sarkozy and the UMP must distance themselves from, if they're to boost their reputation and regain any votes they've lost.
“Cope’s UMP is the plague of Muslims,” Dahmane said in an interview.
Dahmane is a controversial figure who has called on French Muslims to wear a green star Tuesday, similar to the yellow star that Jews were forced to wear under Nazi occupation. Prominent Jewish figures in France have bristled at the comparison.
Another longstanding UMP member tore up his party card in a rage at the Paris mosque. Abdallah Zekri, a member of the High Council of Mosques of France from the southwestern city of Nimes, says Arabs are being targeted.
“Muslims will always be scapegoats,” he said at a Paris news conference. “We no longer talk about immigrants. We talk about Muslims.”
The measure banning the veil forbids women to hide their faces in public places, even in the streets. It punishes those who defy the law with a fine of euro150 or a citizenship course of both. Anyone discovered forcing a woman to cover her face risks a year in prison and a euro30,000 fine – doubled if the veiled person is a minor.Oh yes, this is a very important part in all the issue, and must definitely be followed through on.
I think another subject they might want to bring up is canceling any laws that forbid criticism of religion, and take up a law similar to the 1st Amendment's Religion Clause. And, they might also want to consider taking a firmer stance on immigration from Islamic countries, another subject that plenty of people there would surely want brought up.
Update: speaking of which, the UK Telegraph (also via The Blaze) says the French interior minister is facing legal action from a joke movement over his comments. I would strongly recommend he respond by making clear that religion does not constitute a race. And SOS Racisme is going to need to be told to sit down and shut their yap.