Wear a Burqa, Go to Reeducation Class

A new French law criminalizes Muslim face coverings.
France is a country that prides itself on its expansive cultural history and intellectual tolerance, except in one area. (Photo: Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters)
Apr 12, 2011
Allan MacDonell is TakePart’s News + Opinion editor, with a focus on social justice.

Every Tuesday, we work with the deep-thinkers over at SoulPancake to choose a TakePart story and discuss the Life’s Big Question it brings to mind. This week we look at women's not-right-to-choose in France after yesterday's burqa ban. Look for this week's Big Question at the end of the story, then join the conversation!

Anyone who has ever putted up to South Dakota for the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally or spent any time in the University of Southern California's frat system knows that women have the right to surrender their identities to a male-dominated social system that considers them something like property. Unless those women live in France.

A French law went into effect Monday that forbids anyone (presumably anyone female) from wearing traditional Muslim veils in public. Think of the ban as an ordinance against overly decent exposure.  Aside from a fine of €150, violators will be sentenced to a class in French citizenship.

And what will these too-modest criminals learn in French citizenship class?

Mandatory students might expect to receive lessons in the Enlightenment, also known as the Age of Reason, a spurt of intellectual, cultural and scientific growth in the 18th century that was, if you ask the typical Parisian mob, spearheaded by French citizens. French citizenship teachers may “reason” to their captive classrooms that the anti-burqa and niqab-banning legislation is intended to “enlighten” Muslim women, and pull them out of their culturally imposed dark ages into the glow of modernity.

So here's an extra-credit question: How many of France's enlighteners need to be pulled into the light themselves?

This week's Big Question from the deep-thinkers at SoulPancake: Can the government mandate what you believe in?

Can the government mandate what you believe in? Join the conversation!

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