What is your take on France attempting to ban facial veils?

by Intern Brittany J.

A fatwa (basically a Muslim ruling by a religious official, not necessarily a grand scheme death threat ala Salman Rushdie) has been issued by an important Saudi cleric that says that women may respect declarations in certain countries (ahem, France) that forbid the wearing of the niqab or burqa. Sheikh Aed al-Qarni has said that it is “illogical and unreasonable” for the French government to be going through with this basic removal of religious freedom since it is a secular state that claims to secure such a thing. However, he does say that if it is harmful to women to wear these face-covering veils, which are meant for protection, in a place that says they may not, then they may remove them. Apparently many Islamic scholars agree on this point, that it may be optional.

 Is it just me or does this seem somewhat backwards? It seems that in the past it has been the constantly-circulating story that women are being forced to cover up in many Muslim circles, and supposed Democratic nations and “free women” kind of…rage against it, so to speak. It’s interesting to me that France is basically saying no, and seems to be forbidding some sort of choice (cough, cough), while people of some veins of the Islamic faith are saying it can be optional. Might this possibly extend into specifically theocratic countries and areas as well? Are things heading toward optional? Are some people finally beginning to comprehend choice? I feel as though I’m missing something, because it’s all a bit confusing to me. I am not Muslim, nor do I know a ton about Islam. I do know that if women are legitimately making their own life choices, even if I do not agree with them, I realize that in my heart of hearts I have to let them do their thing. It’s only right.

 What do ya’ll say? Let’s get a conversation going about this.

[image: muslimthai.com; info: USA Today, Yahoo! News]

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