Religion Freedom and Belief
Islam is the second largest religion in France. Muslims in France account for almost 10% of the population in the country. The Muslims in the country consist 68.5% of all the immigrants who have migrated into the country last year. The increase in the number of Muslims in the country is attributed to various factors. For instance, the increase in number of Muslims in France is as a result of the immigrants who moved into the country after the Second World War. After the Second World War, most of the Muslims moved into the country due to increase in demand of foreign labor from the Maghreb. Most of the immigrants came from nations that maintained strong relationships with French language and the culture. Most of the immigrants who migrated into the country after the Second World War have decided to settle in France. Though most of the countries in the world encourage democracy, few do not encourage democracy. For instance, France does not support democracy fully. This is because most of the Muslim citizens are not allowed to practice their rights. For instance, they are not allowed to wear hijab. This paper analyzes why the Muslims in France are not allowed to wear hijab.
The wearing of hijab by Muslim in France has become a major issue since 1989.Peope in the country had different views about Muslims wearing hijab. Some support the wearing of hijab by Muslims while other does not. Most people have debated on whether Muslims especially muslim girls should wear hijab in schools. Most people argue that the Muslim girl should wear hijab in government schools or other schools. The French government enacted a law in 2004 to prevent Muslim girls from putting on hijab in school (Nieuwkerk, 2006). The French rules prevent putting on religious symbols in learning institutions. For instance, it prevents students from putting on religious symbols in government schools both secondary and primary. The government amendment the education laws in the country. The law was signed by resident “Jacques Chirac” on March 15, 2004.This is because the government wanted to separate the state activities from religious activities. The law does not state any specific symbols and it bans al symbols. For instance, it bans Muslim symbols like the hijab and christens symbols. In addition, it bans symbols from other minor groups in the country. Though the law bans all types of symbols as stated above, most people claim that it targets the Muslims in the country. The law targets the Muslims girls and this has made it hard for them to exercise their democratic rights (Croucher, 2008).
For the last one decade, school administrators have allowed school children to wear symbols that are associated with various religions. For instance, some have allowed Muslims to wear hijab and other symbols. They have also allowed Christian to wear their symbols. Though the administrators allowed the students to wear such symbols, some of the students still faced discrimination. The students are punished for wearing the symbols. The school administrators in such schools argue that the symbols are not part of the school attire. Most people find crosses acceptable in school, but not other clothes like headscarves because of various reasons. First, most people argue that the clothes are not religious symbols, but a sign of female alienation. In addition, the clothes are symbols of mounting. Moreover, most people have associated the clothes with Islamist movements and terrorist attacks in the country. The views have influenced the wearing of hijab in the country as most people associate Muslims in the country with illegal groups. For instance, people associate Muslims in the country with terrorist attacks. A large number of Muslim girls have been expelled from different schools in the country because of covering their head. For instance, 3 Muslim girls were expelled from the “Gabriel-Havez” college for wearing the hijab. In November, the same year, a court in the country ruled that wearing of hijab and other Islamic symbols in public schools was not acceptable as it was not inline with the school system in the country. In 1990, 3 girls were expelled from “Pasteur “college. The Parents of the girl filed a case because of defamation against the principal. In addition, teachers in the area decided to protest because of wearing hijab and other religious symbols in school (Croucher, 2008).
On the other hand, some people think wearing of religious symbols like the hijab is not illegal. This is because it has various advantages to Muslims in the country. Most people view the wearing of hijab as feminine choice. They argue that the wearing of hijab is not different from wearing of other clothes (Nieuwkerk, 2006). The advocates of wearing of hijab in the country argue that the Qumran supports the wearing of hijab. Most of the Muslims believe that the Qumran allows women to cover their heads outside their families. The muslins believe that it is a kind of discrimination not allowing young girls to wear hijab in school. They also argue that it is a kind of discrimination not to allow women in France to wear hijab publicly. The Muslims and other advocates argue that the law enacted by the government infringes on their rights. For instance, it infringes on their religious rights as it affects their religious beliefs. The law puts secular values on Muslims and this is in contrast to Muslim believes. Different Muslim group in the country have different interpretation of the qu’ran. Hence, some support the wearing of the hijab and other do not. The opponents argue that women are not supposed to wear hijab and they are free to walk without covering their heads. This kind of group has developed different measures to protect women who do not want to wear hijab (Boyle &Sheen, 1997).
Moreover, the French government and a large percentage of the public oppose the wearing of different religious signs like dress. The groups argue that the wearing of such expressions infringes the separation of the church and the government. In addition, they argue that the wearing of hijab increases tension in the country as the country has various cultures (Mathy, 2000). As a result, the government released a circular in1994, showing the symbols that were allowed in public school and symbol that were not allowed in public school. The government listed the Islamic headscarves as one of the unwanted symbols (Fetzer &Soper, 2005). Most people opposed the move to ban Islamic headscarves in schools. For instance, students from northwest of Paris protested to support the right to wear Islamic headscarves in schools. The students argued that the government was not practicing democracy as it prohibited Muslims from exercising their democratic rights. Since, 1996, a total of 100 girls have been expelled from various schools in the country for wearing headscarves. A half of the cases filed by various group about the wearing of hijab in the country the court has overturned the decision. Apart from the students, religious leaders and journalists have opposed the government decision to ban wearing of hijab (Moghissi, 2006).
In 2009, president “Nicholas sarkozy” stated that Islamic burqa were not allowed in the country. The president argued that the covering of the whole body hid the women identity and made the women prisoners. In addition, the president formed a commission to investigate the issue and ban the wearing of burqa in the country. In 2010, the government banned the wearing of burqa in public schools and hospitals. The committee argued that the government would not allow wearing of such attire in schools and hospitals as it was against the law and lead to discrimination in the country. However, the committee argued that the government will not ban wearing of burqa on the streets and private paces (McKinnon, 2006). Though the president and some of his supporters see wearing of hijab as a kind of oppression to the women, most women do not. The Muslim women see wearing of hijab as a sign of freedom. It is a sign of political freedom and not sexual oppression as people think. Thus, the reason the Muslims in different countries has embraced the hijab. For instance, Muslims in Iran embraced the hijab during the revolution. The Muslims and the Catholic Church think the move to ban wearing of scarves in the country is a form of oppression. This is because it prevents Muslims from being free from oppression like other religious groups (Facing History and Ourselves, 2008).
Further, some of the Muslim groups support the government decision. The groups argue that the ban of wearing scarves in schools and other places brings equality. This is because the women view the wearing of hijab is part of cultural traditions. Most countries have forced Muslim women to wear the hijab as part of their traditions. This has made it difficulty for the Muslims to enjoy freedom. Hence, the banning of the scarves will egad to equality in the country as the vaeruoius groups in the country will be equal (Célestin, DalMolin, Courtivron, 2003). Wearing of Islamic symbol like the Hijab leads to discrimination in the country as the Muslims have different culture from other groups. Most people argue that hijab ha divided Muslims from non Muslims. This is evidenced in most schools as the Muslim students influence other students. The students are forced to conform to the Muslim dress code and moral laws. In addition, most people argue that hijab destroys the secular public system in the country. Mot people argue that though the government move to ban hijab might be beneficial it is politically motivated. They argue that the issue is not a social issue or religious problem as the government claims. Hence, majority of the Muslims groups do not support the decision (Facing History and Ourselves, 2008).
The wearing of hijab among the Muslims has become a major problem. This is because of the different views people have. Some people including the government do not support the wearing of hijab because of various reasons. First, the government and other people argue that wearing of hijab is a form of discrimination. For instance, it leads to discrimination among women. Most of the Islamic women are oppressed by their tradition and hence it affects other rights. The government argues that the hijab has ed to discrimination of students in learning institutions leading to expulsion of some students. It also affects the national security as mot people associate Muslim with various terrorist groups in various countries. Apart from affecting security it also affects the religious freedom of Muslims in the country. In addition, it also affects multiculturalism in the country. This is because Muslims in the country have secluded themselves from other cultures. The Muslims have different cultures and religious beliefs. The reasons have forced the government to ban wearing of the hijab in the country. A small percentage of Muslim in the country and other parts of the country has supported the idea as it has a lot of benefits to the women. However, most of the Muslims and other religious group have opposed the decision. This is because it affects their religious beliefs and practices. It also affects their democratic rights. The wearing of hijab among Muslim women in France remains an issue and the government should look for a permanent solution. This will make it easy for the Muslims to coexist with other groups in the country.
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