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July 12, 2010

France Walks the Walk on Women's Rights

File under "Things that will never happen in Obama's America":

Immigration Minister Eric Besson said Wednesday the decision was rooted in French law, which permits authorities to reject applicants who fail to respect national values.Prime Minister Francois Fillon, who has the final say, has pledged to approve Besson's order.

Besson's office said the man's application was rejected because officials had determined that he had deprived his wife of the freedom to go about with her face uncovered.

"It was nearly a caricature because the person said: 'my wife will never be able to go out without the full veil; I don't believe in gender equality; women have inferior status; I will not respect the principles of the secular society,'" he told reporters after a Cabinet meeting.

Besson stressed that the decision does not mean the man will be deported, and he will be allowed to remain in France on his current long-term visa.

This case poses fascinating moral and public policy questions. First off, it's interesting that despite the claim that the man "forced" his wife to wear the veil, nowhere do we hear what his wife thinks.

It seems fairly innocuous to argue that women have the right to decide how they will clothe themselves, but if it turns out that she doesn't object, have her rights been violated?

Would you want to see this kind of law in the U.S.?

Posted by Cassandra at July 12, 2010 07:23 AM

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Comments

No!

But as we are aware, we are currently suffering under some right squirrelly leadership who are continually relocating their nuts. In addition, said leaders are determined to install like-minded justices.

*makes note to self to order another 5 gallon can of Pixel Wite-Out and a pound of Hodgdon Varget powder*

Posted by: Winston Smith at July 12, 2010 10:35 AM

Very interesting. If one were to argue that the woman doesn't know any better, so she can't give informed consent to wearing the veil; therefore, we (society) must make that decision for her. By taking that route, are we not doing the same thing her husband has done? Conversely, if she does know better, then we cannot object to her desire to subject herself to another person. We can't force freedom on anyone, we can only provide them the opportunity to take it for themselves. As far as having a law like that... Our country was founded on a premise that people from different cultures, societies, walks of life, etc. could come together under a common set of ideals. One of those ideals is that we the people are the ones that determine the values of our nation and government, not the reverse. So on principle, I would reject that law.

Posted by: Smart Grunt at July 12, 2010 10:43 AM

"...the decision was rooted in French law..."
...if it turns out that she doesn't object, have her rights been violated?

It's a non-issue. French law prohibits wearing *anything* that conceals facial features, with the sole exceptions being masks for Carnival, so she doesn't *have* the right to wear a hijab in public.

Posted by: BillT at July 12, 2010 11:04 AM

Good point :p

I hadn't considered that, Bill.

Posted by: Cassandra at July 12, 2010 11:10 AM

"Would you want to see this kind of law in the U.S.?"

We already do have some laws like that. For example, you must have *all* your facial features visible on a picture ID -- a woman *must* remove a veil for the photographer.

Posted by: BillT at July 12, 2010 11:13 AM

Good point :p
I hadn't considered that, Bill.

[impeccable AH-nuhld impression]: Hyu blahg like a voo-mun...

Posted by: BillT at July 12, 2010 11:16 AM

[impeccable Dylan impression]

But I break just like a little girl...

Posted by: Cassandra at July 12, 2010 11:46 AM

We don't know what his wife thinks, but we do know that it's not important to him what his wife thinks. "My wife will never be able to go out without the full veil; I don't believe in gender equality; women have inferior status; I will not respect the principles of the secular society" -- if that's at all an accurate portrayal of his views, it's pretty clear. He's not telling us that he and his wife have worked out an approach to whether it's best for her to go out in public unveiled, and that it's between them and we should butt out. That may be true, of course, but it's not what he's told us so far.

Shouldn't France be entitled to take into account whether a potential new citizen with this philosophical approach -- or even more important, large numbers of them at once -- is a good thing for the future of the country? Do we not yet have enough information about the strong correlation between this view and the view that people who don't happen to agree are the appropriate subjects of violence?

I guess what I'm trying to say is that a decision against permitting this man to immigrate is not motivated primarily by the desire to protect or vindicate his wife, who may or may not be interested in France's help. It's motivated by France's desire to protect itself.

Posted by: Texan99 at July 12, 2010 11:54 AM

I agree that as a measure to protect individuals, such a law is likely to have the unintended consequence of imposing some sort of de jure purdah on Muslim women (i.e., their religion requires them not to go out unveiled but French law won't let them go out veiled).

So if it's intended to safeguard the rights of individual women, it doesn't work.

If, on the other hand, the goal is to minimize the power/influence/visibility of religions that require women to be veiled, it works just fine.

I think the salient point here is that this guy is asking to be made a French citizen while openly refusing to submit himself to French law. Therefore, while I'm not too sure it's a wise law I think the French are entirely within their rights to deny him citizenship.

Posted by: Cassandra at July 12, 2010 12:07 PM

Leaving aside the fact that the French have already passed legislation prohibiting the veil in certain public settings, I'm of the opinion that Tex has the context by the nub with regard to their acts being

"motivated by France's desire to protect itself."
To the extent that the State would seek to promote equality, even among the sexes of immigrants. Tis a sticky wicket, but if remaining veiled is a must, Air Fronce is ready when they are.
"I think the salient point here is that this guy is asking to be made a French citizen while openly refusing to submit himself to French law."
Yeah... The nerve! Oh wait, that seems to be SOP amongst the adherents of the ROP in the West.

Posted by: Winston Smith at July 12, 2010 12:35 PM

He says that he can neither respect nor obey a fundamental principle of French law; it's not just his wife, but all women. He has the right to think this, and the French have the power not to grant him citizenship because of that. This is actually boring. If he had concealed his thoughts, he might have gotten citizenship and then it would be harder to remove it, but he didn't and that issue doesn't come up.

It would be interesting to hear what she thinks of all of this, but I suspect that she's not allowed to express an opinion, presuming she has one.

BillT's got it, we already have laws kind of like this, not as sweeping as those proposed, though. We have freedom of religion, but the state does not allow one religion to impose on other religions (or non-religions.) As well, the state does not allow religions to damage others; a religion that required the actual practice of cannibalism, for example, would definitely be in big legal hot water, whether the victim was a member of the church or not. (Symbolic, miraculous cannibalism doesn't generate the same concern.)

Posted by: htom at July 12, 2010 01:09 PM

After 1000+ page laws that no-one knows or understands, I'm against just about any new law.

Unless the new law says that if you want something changed, you have to revoke the old law that made it so.

BTW - "But I break just like a little girl..."
was perfect

Posted by: tomg51 at July 12, 2010 01:36 PM

After 1000+ page laws that no-one knows or understands, I'm against just about any new law.

OK, I don't care who you are. That was funny :)

Posted by: Cassandra at July 12, 2010 01:50 PM

You don't *sound* broken.

Maybe it was just the off-key-nasal-whine Dylan imitation...

Posted by: BillT at July 12, 2010 02:31 PM

France is a particularly egotistical country, yet that has not made them immune to cultural conquering.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 12, 2010 02:38 PM

my wife will never be able to go out without the full veil; I don't believe in gender equality; women have inferior status; I will not respect the principles of the secular society"

He did not say "my wife will never *want to* go out without the full veil", he said "be able to", which implies he thinks he has authority to control her. He also specifically said that he "will not respect the principles of the secular society", which implies that he considers himself above French law.

Posted by: david foster at July 12, 2010 02:58 PM

He did not say "my wife will never *want to* go out without the full veil", he said "be able to", which implies he thinks he has authority to control her.

Under his religion, he *does* have that authority, and he refuses to acknowledge French secular authority over *him*.

Geez, give the guy a break, here. He's already doing them a massive favor by refraining from cutting everyone's heads off. At least, for now...

Posted by: BillT at July 12, 2010 04:18 PM

Leaving aside the actual literal text of the Koran about which women are to be covered . . .
I assume France has something like the U.S. oath of citizenship. I also assume that it includes a line about obeying all French laws. So the guy comes in saying that he wants an out on the obedience part but desires all the benefits of citizenship. I also assume he is familiar with the practice known as taquaia [sp], or permissible deception (in this case lying or as they used to say "swearing with reservations").

In this case, the law functions perfectly for weeding out someone who would be a pox on the body politic. Whatever one thinks about the law in question.

Posted by: LittleRed1 at July 12, 2010 06:21 PM

"My wife will never be able to go out without the full veil; I don't believe in gender equality; women have inferior status; I will not respect the principles of the secular society"

I'd be happy for the US to have a law that provided for this man to be denied citizenship. No foreigner has a right to US citizenship.

Posted by: tom at July 13, 2010 12:04 AM

Try to convince the Libs of that. I'm surprised the Dems haven't set up voter registration booths on our side of the southern border...

Posted by: BillT at July 13, 2010 02:00 AM

it's interesting that despite the claim that the man "forced" his wife to wear the veil, nowhere do we hear what his wife thinks.

You're missing the logic of the situation. We know exactly what his wife thinks: "I don't believe in gender equality; women have inferior status;...." The man has told us explicitly what his wife thinks.

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at July 13, 2010 08:49 AM

She better not want to go out without the covering if she wants to have a face that she can show in public.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 13, 2010 10:23 AM

A lot of Americans don't deserve US citizenship either. But there it is.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 13, 2010 10:24 AM

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