The debate surrounding a public ban on the “burqa” continues to intensify as the date approaches when the law will go into effect in France and its overseas departments. Reunion is home to a sizable Muslim minority, consisting not only of recent immigrants from other islands in the Indian Ocean region where Islam is more widely practiced, but also of families who have lived as French citizens on Reunion for generations who, along with the Tamils, Malagasy, Chinese, and other East Africans, contribute to the unique patrimonial métissage for which the Reunionese are so proud.
Mainland France, on the other hand, is experiencing a frightening wave of xenophobia as it’s population becomes less homogenous, due in large part to immigrant flows from Africa, the Maghreb, and eastern Europe. An educational campaign launched by the French government entitled “The Republic without a covered face” and featuring a stoic and ethnocentric depiction of French Marianne as its cover girl will accompany the Burqa Ban in April.
The law is expected to directly affect the lives of approximately 250 Reunionese women who regularly wear the full veil in public and will demand as retribution either a 150 Euro fine ($200) or participation in community service seminars for each offence, beginning in July of this year.
Sorry to the non-Francophones who will have difficulty understanding this news segment, but listening to the tones of the speakers voices is compelling enough.
Original text article can be found here.
Some revealing (troubling?) comments from online readers: (my own translations…)
“Fuck off and let these people wear what they want. I don’t see what the matter is. And stop telling us we’re French, its infuriating. This word “French” is just on paper. Open your eyes; we don’t have the same benefits as those in mainland France. We’re Reunionese. Just something to think about. You’ve been warned.”
“Its time to stop saying that we all live in harmony in Reunion already, since in terms of community [diversity], each group sticks together. Next, we are on French soil and the law is equally applicable here in Reunion, which is above all, a French territory. It’s exasperating to see that integration only goes in one direction, meaning that when we step foot in any Arab country [we have to assimilate to local customs and practices regarding appearance] but not the other way around. So, PLEASE, stop pontificating and may our dear politicians shed [our society’s] so-called “woven fabric” so that this law might be as effective as any other. You’ve been warned, my dear compatriots.”
“Of course, the Law must apply to everyone in the same fashion. La Reunion is French, just like Mayotte. Moreover the Mahorais (residents of Mayotte) voted to remain a French department, along with all the obligations which it entails, first being to respect French law. Its also astonishing to see the energy generated over 250 veiled women in Reunion! And lastly, who will pay for these community service seminars? Those who aren’t wearing the veil, of course! Adaptation, yes, but laxity, no.”
“This woman is a perfect example of [someone] lacking reflection. First of all she is incapable of discussing a subject without making reference to God. We have the freedom of religion, but the majority of us also have the capacity to speak and reflect on a subject without having to systematically resort to the word of God. She is incapable of understanding the faults in her logic. I’m not judging the Islamic culture, but you have to acknowledge that certain precepts are astounding and make women endure masculine domination. Lastly, it’s not my problem, but in my store, you won’t come in with a face hidden behind a veil, or else you stay at home!!!!!”
“On particular airlines flying between Paris and the Arab world, flight attendants dress normally at takeoff from Pars. Then when the plane returns to its country of origin, they put on their veils. Even though they might not all be Muslims, they respect the customs, religion, whatever… but also they respect our law when they arrive in France.”
“Apply the law to the letter. Wearing a veil is a provocative gesture to our secular Republic and its inhabitants. It’s an ostentatious symbol of belonging to a group and a form of resistance. There’s nothing special [about the Muslims] here than in any big urban area in mainland France, like Marseille, Lille or the crown of Paris. We’ve been talking about the veil for years in France. There’s no element of surprise here, like normal, we dare to apply the law. With exceptions? No. A true specialty of France, that “we wouldn’t dare” threaten a segment of the voters. When you get off the plane in certain Islamic countries, no one gives you a “transition period” to put on your veil or not. Obligation is immediate. 250 women in Reunion? I doubt this number is correct. Concerning Muslim policemen, they are under oath to serve the nation and not a religion, and in the proper execution of their work, they serve the secular Republic.”