Recently, France’s lower house of parliament passed a ban on top of the burqa, requiring women caught wearing the Islamic face veil to pay a 150 Euro fine. Although French government claims this bill will extend rights to Muslim women, the legislature restricts basic religious freedoms under the guise of feminism.
The bill is also aimed at the perceived patriarchal family unit, as husbands and fathers who force the women in their family to wear the burqa can be fined up to 30,000 Euros or sentenced to a year in prison. The law has overwhelming support in France, but only five of the 64 million French citizens are Muslim, and only 1,900 French women wear the veil.
The French government’s position is egocentric and bigoted, as it assumes every woman wearing a veil has been forced to cover up. Muslim women who choose independently to dress modestly should be allowed to reflect their religious beliefs. France needs to acknowledge that while the burqa is unpopular, religious tolerance is a staple of Western democracy.
Feminism is about giving women the right to choose and control their lives. Ironically, France’s position does little for women’s rights, the bill sets a bad precedent, and sends the message that women are not capable of making decisions regarding wearing the veil. More than one of the country’s elected officials needs to stand up for a woman’s rights to make an unpopular decision, and stop this bill.