London UK, 14th July 2010 – On Tuesday 13th July 2010, the French lower house of parliament voted overwhelmingly to ban face veils from public spaces. There have subsequently been calls for similar measures across Europe, including by some in Britain. If approved by the senate, any woman wearing the veil could be fined 150 Euros (£125) or be forced to take French citizenship classes.
Commenting on this, Dr Nasreen Nawaz, Women’s media representative of Hizb ut-Tahrir in Britain said: "By deciding that secular liberties can only be protected by subjugating Muslim women through punitive fines and forced indoctrination in French citizenship, the French Parliament has effectively shown that pluralism in a secular state is dead, at least as far as Muslims are concerned.
"Many politicians have accused the face veil of being an affront to women’s dignity, a symbol of male dominance, and a form of subjugation of women in addition to being an attack on secularism; and have justified bans on the basis that it would empower, liberate, and protect Muslim women from victimisation.
"However, the "debates" around the veil have also merely provided a veneer of respectability for racist expressions. Many have noted that the vitriol and whipping up of hysteria against a garment worn by only a few hundred women within populations numbering millions, has been a political ploy employed by secular parties vying for the right-wing xenophobic vote by using the populist ‘anti-Muslim card’.
"It is truly extraordinary that Western nations, who face economic and social crises have chosen to wage war on a piece of cloth. How convenient that at a time when the Sarkozy government is embroiled in corruption charges and pushing through unpopular economic reforms that national attention should focus on the veil.
"It speaks volumes for these countries that they scapegoat the most vulnerable people in their society, least able to answer back, in order to deflect attention away from the crises their own systems have wrought on the ordinary public. "