France is and will always be my special soapbox, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised when crap like this comes out. On November 1st, the magazine ran a cover with a niqabi (OF COURSE) on the front, with the headline “Cet Islam sans gêne” (This Brazen Islam), with a sub-headline of examples of where Muslims are behaving badly: schools, cafeterias, pools, schools, school programs. Note that in France these are always the examples of Muslims behaving badly, the actual content is such weak sauce I wonder how it even made copy in national press.
The real deal is that, yet again, the image of a Muslim woman is used to illustrate a “OMG WTF BBQ THE MUSLIMS ARE TAKING OVER” story. Using niqab to drive the “islamization” point home is nothing new, and is part of a laundry list of media and political campaigns (e.g. the Swiss minaret vote, one example among thousands) to give people a handy visual in understanding that if you tolerate Islam on any level, all women will be walking around fully covered and that Islam=extremist=niqab. It is so old it isn’t even funny or creative. Just your typical, recycled, islamophobic crap passed off as journalism when it is neither fresh, pertinent, nor interesting. An interesting side note is that the cover picture was taken at a demonstration of less than twenty women in Lille in October. Brazen indeed. Much like Charlie Hebdo, who decided to recycle the Mohammed cartoons schtick last September after already getting in trouble with teh Muslims in 2011. It seems that Le Point was also lacking in copy and decided to recycle some fundie copy from early 2011.
Speaking of Charlie Hebdo, I wonder if that episode played more than a small part in what I consider a very unexpected backlash from the rest of the mainstream media, where this time, the cover went a little too far. Could it really be that people are tired of the bottom of the barrel constantly being scraped when it comes to Muslims and MSM? While with Charlie Hebdo, people jumped on the freedom-of-speech bandwagon, for Le Point, finally people have some sense and are either tired of the same old crap, or are really getting a clue that calling out Muslims may be a smidge bigoted in this day and age.
But still, the groan fest just doesn’t stop for me. While such a reaction could hardly be unexpected, Interior Minister Manuel Valls (I’ve written about my non-love for him previously at MMW) took time out from his busy mosque visiting (he does that a lot to get the TV bytes that show he is hip and has street cred and contrary to, well, everything, he doesn’t think of Muslims as second-class citizens) to go on TV and proclaim that he “wasn’t shocked” by the cover at all and that what really shocks him are totally covered women. Of course. Call Caroline Fourest, the Muslims are coming to get us all and turn Europe into one vast Islamic state with enough niqabs for everybody. Anyway.
I’ve said it before and will say again that as far as Islamophobia is concerned, women’s bodies are both the battlefield and the first victims. So on some sick level, it is fitting that when a mainstream French magazine wants to flirt with the extreme right and banalize casual Islamophobia, OF COURSE the picture will be a woman in niqab. I mean, it wouldn’t be “creeping sharia” without it.