A proposed headscarf ban in the Swiss Canton of Valais

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 So apparently Swiss politicians, lacking in creativity, have nothing better to do than copy what is going on in France. After the burqa ban in the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino and some local issues in the German-speaking cantons, the latest part of Switzerland to jump on the “policing women’s clothing” bandwagon is the Canton of Valais. In an article in the Geneva daily Le Temps, a delegate from the Swiss Socialist Party was quoted as asking if there was really a reason to vote … [Read more...]

Review – Yasmin Alibhai-Brown’s Refusing the Veil

refusingveil

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown’s Refusing the Veil, part of the Provocations series by Biteback publishing, is a very short, refreshingly honest book about why the author thinks Muslim women should give up wearing the veil, in all its various forms, so that they can be liberated women in the 21st century.The book begins with a list of all the possible words for veil. It proceeds, taking a conversational tone with very occasional academic flourishes but a merciful lack of jargon, in three parts. The f … [Read more...]

No Culture for Niqabis

Part of the infographic produced by Libération.

The French "niqab" ban (burqa ban, whatever ban…call it what you will) of October 2010 has not faded away from the public consciousness in France at all. What I had originally hoped was just right-wing propaganda has turned out to be, since its entry into force in April 2011, part and parcel of a unique French interpretation of democracy and a revisionist version of French secularism, or laïcité. What started as laïcité was a series of what were originally anti-Catholic laws in 1882 and 1905, whi … [Read more...]

French Magazine Le Point’s Shameless Headline

November 1 cover of Le Point.

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 wo … [Read more...]

Muslim Women Get Naked! Femen’s Topless Tactics and Muslim Women in France

A Femen member at a protest.

Recently, Femen, the controversial Ukrainian feminist organization, has been established in France. Femen was founded in 2008 to protest sexism, patriarchy and violence while advocating for feminism. Its members became well-known for protesting naked against sexism, trafficking, religious institutions and sex tourism, among others.  The group, which has become internationally known, has also been able to gather members in some other countries in Europe.The movement’s founder, Anna Hutsol, is … [Read more...]

When Laïcité Goes Wrong, or When Burqa Checks Start Getting Real

Since the anti-burqa law (or whatever you want to call it, I can’t anymore) was passed in France, women with “full cover” can be cited for non-compliance, and can be stopped for identity checks.  We all remember the story of the polygamous butcher and his many niqab-clad wives gleefully committing welfare fraud.  One of his wives was stopped while driving, and it was argued that she was pulled over, not for a traditional traffic offense, but because she was driving with a niqab on (which is why s … [Read more...]

Change Is Now? No, Not Yet: Manuel Valls as France’s New Interior Minister

Manuel Valls

I was rather excited about Francois Hollande winning the French elections this month.  I hoped that five years of hateful, fear mongering policy towards Muslims by Sarkozy and his minions would come to an end and that Hollande, for all his supposed blandness, would bring some low-key normalcy to the French presidency.There was one flaw in my reasoning: Manuel Valls, Hollande’s new Interior Minister.  The Interior Minister in France is a quite important cabinet position, responsible for int … [Read more...]


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