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French Fashion Fascism

May 20, 2010

Street art in France has begun to try to express that there can be a "happy, veiled/burqa clad Muslim woman"...who is also distinctly French!

Earlier this week, the French government approved a draft resolution to ban the wearing of the niqab, or full face veil, in all public places (for an excellent tutorial on the different types of female Muslim veils, see this BBC article on the recent Belgian law passed). According to the bill, the wearers of any face hiding fashion would be subject to a fine of 185 euros with their supposed overlords being charged up to 18,500 euros.

Even though the resolution will most likely not be made law (many in French courts are already citing its obvious un-constitutionality), many have come out up in arms about the message behind the resolution, especially in light of the resolutions basis for banning. Skirting the issue of female fashion imprisonment or misogyny that some believe is inherent in a veil, the French have introduced this bill mainly due to the fact that they believe the veil does not fall into accordance with France’s ‘values.’

But, for a country that has touted woman’s liberation and free choice (whatever that might be) for centuries, the news of the veil ban resolution came to many French Muslim women as an affront. Speaking on TV for the first time, many French Muslim businesswomen and community leaders have come out on such channels as the BBC and stated that they can be liberated, Muslim, and covered. Other social networks for Muslims across Europe have also come out against it, such as the Muslim Political Action Committee in the UK (MPACUK), with their wittily titled piece “What Not to Wear.”

The action comes on the heels of some other disappointing developments in French Muslim society, such as the refusal to grant citizenship to a Muslim man and his wife in February due to her donning of a burqa. Without getting into the historical accuracy of the veil, the real purposes for why the Prophet had his wives wear them (arguably to avoid clamoring believers than for modesty), and  the call in Islam for both men and woman to dress modestly, the only question I can think to ask is that if a society can expect it’s women to look like this…

Fashions from Jean Paul Gaultier's 2008 collection.

Cannot it also allow them if they so choose, to look like this?

A Veil for All Seasons: a Young Woman in France demonstrates she can be a patriot as well as a Muslim.

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