The French “Niqab Ban,” One Year On

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A year ago this week, a French law came into effect banning face veils for women.  At the time, the law was subject to much derision for “only” affecting the very specific number of 367 niqab and burqa-clad women (as of 2009) in France, although at its time, the law was thought to concern a couple thousand women.Anything relating to Muslims has long been a political tool in France, be it from the far-right National Front (FN) party, or from President Sarkozy’s Union for a Popular Movement (UM … [Read more...]

The DSK Rape Victim is Everything but a Victim, According to the Media

The media response to the Dominique Strauss-Kahn rape charges is predictably horrific. The salacious gossip can maintain itself for weeks: the victim lives in a complex for HIV-positive residents (no wait! She doesn’t); wears hijab; and is “pious and respectable.” No, you say, she’s not unattractive—she’s actually got great breasts?A full 57% of French citizens claim that Strauss-Kahn, who was set to unseat Sarkozy in the upcoming election, was set-up at his Sofitel Hotel. This, of course, is p … [Read more...]

The Doha Debates on The Burqa Ban

Last month, the Qatar Foundation’s Doha Debates took on the French niqab ban, discussing the motion: “This House believes France is right to ban the face veil.” Since the niqab ban (or the “burqa ban,” and we’ve dubbed it) has been a big media issue on MMW,  a few of MMW's ladies decided to get together to talk about this edition of the Debates.You can read the transcript or watch video at the website.Yusra: Was it just me or were the most recent Doha Debates the best installment so far? S … [Read more...]

Does NiqaBitch Enrich the Burqa Ban Debate?

With articles in Der Spiegel, Rue89, The Telegraph, and a YouTube video in recent weeks, the two self-described web-activists called Niqabitch are making a splash in the French (and European) media landscape. As they said themselves in the Rue89 article, throwing on a burqa in protest of France’s burqa ban would be “too simple.” They wanted to see what would happen by mixing things up a bit and throwing together a niqab with a miniskirt.So the ladies of MMW got together and discussed our feel … [Read more...]

Bérengère Lefranc’s “Un voile, Un certain moi de juin”

Un voile, Un certain moi de juin is the story of French artist Bérengère Lefranc's decision to wear a "burqa" (although she hesitates to define it as such) for one month and write about it.  I was skeptical about this book after reading an initial review of it in Swiss daily Le Temps. Not normally a fan of these "Let's play dress up" stories, I set out to read the book anyway.  Already, the title bothers me.  "Voile" is "veil" in French, and the garment Ms. Lefrance wears most closely resembles a … [Read more...]

Cold Comfort: Supporting Arguments don’t do Burqa Bans a Favor

The proposed French ban on facial coverings* worn by some Muslim women seems like it hasn't left the news for weeks, with new developments popping up regularly and prompting, again, a wave of articles and editorials on the topic. One theme that I've noticed lately is the tendency for people opposed to the ban to contextualize their opposition with a comment along the lines of "I really don't like the burqa/niqab/veil, but I don't agree that it should be banned."  One Canadian blog describes it … [Read more...]

The French (Dis)Connection: on the role of Media and Politics in the Burqa Ban

Aged patronizing feminists, young veiled victims (of Islamist threat), and endangered laïcité éternelle (everlasting secularism): those were the main ingredients of a huge media bubble blown into people’s minds in France this summer.It all started with the sketch of a proposition bill: André Gérin, a left-wing deputy and mayor asked in June the French Parliament to create an Enquiry Commission into the wearing of burqa. His text, co-signed by 58 other deputies, aimed to define legally the lengt … [Read more...]