France's Religious Freedom Failures
When the last wave of fascism spread across Europe the socialists who spread their banner of intolerance across the nations of Western Europe wasted no time targeting religious freedoms. Conservative Judaism suffered immediate harassment as the French brown shirts took up the German jackboots' cause. Beards were publicly desecrated as the peyos locks were sheered off. To add insult to injury these same Jews were then forced to adorn their clothing with a yellow star to identify themselves ironically in much the same way their religious customs had. However this time their sense of religious identity was upon the terms of the fascist and not in accordance to their religious customs.
For the Muslims of France the first step in reestablishing these very sins committed under, and often blamed upon, the Nazis. Yet in modern France there are no foreign fascist to blame these modern denials of religious freedoms upon. Today the French have only themselves and their own bigotry to blame for the denials of religious practices to a distinct religious group.
Once again the French strip away one of the most precious practices of their victims in an attempt to humiliate their victims. It is no more an attempt to preserve "French values" than it is an attempt to impose higher values upon the targeted portion of their society. For if religious intolerance is a French value than the victimized community should not be expected to practice religious tolerance anywhere on the planet. Once shown that their faith is given less value than that of their oppressors', how can France expect a social standard be shown toward them that they deny to others?
The idea of forcing a new set of standards upon a small portion of society is not only counterproductive but also goes completely against the ideals of liberty and equality. In a free and open society there can be no room made for intolerance of our basic G-d given rights. Let alone when it is the government applying such double standards upon society at large. For if any portion of our society is not allowed to practice their basic human rights; none of us are truly free.
The main excuse for the "burqa ban" has been the blatantly false concern for public safety. When politicians run out of things to blame their biases upon these days they turn to the mind-numb masses and screams danger. And in a modern world where the masses are just about gullible enough to drink the kool-aid these scare tactics somehow still have an affect.
But what are we really risking by allowing our Muslim sisters to be abused by the legislators of Europe?
Small Steps Toward Tyranny
When Germany began it's march toward totalitarianism in the late 1920's the German public was not well aware of what was awaiting them over the next two decades. Their flirtation with a national sense of pride and the promises of a politicians was a poison that would rot their sense of self worth. Their own identities would have to be sold to the state if they wished to obtain the prizes that their new leaders dangled just out of reach. And sure enough, the Germans took the bait.
In France Europe watched as deviant leaders dangled lofty promises of "restoring French pride" in a society that never really had any. Slowly the seed took root and the people of France began to sell off their own self worth for the promise of a new and better France. Their own identities as liberal and free thinking individuals has slowly decayed as France inches it's way toward fascist socialism. The lie of what a person must be to be truly "French" has already be swallowed by the masses. The cookie cutter image of what a "good French citizen" should look like has already been supplanted in place of their own self image. No longer is the model citizen allowed to freely and openly practice their faith, but rather is expected to pay homage to a godless state.
With the removal of publicly displayed Christian symbols the French were expected to show that they were cutting ties to their Christian past and moving toward a free and open society. However, once the public accepted that the church and state were separate the state began to cross the boundary and play the role of church. Where the idea of limiting the role of religion in politics had been so keenly imposed the rationalization of limiting the state's role in religion was not.
This is where the hijab battle in Europe is best displayed.
In a public that was willing to limit and even oppress the rights of it's Christian "bitter clingers" the society cannot expect the state to practice limits. This is why the overreaching of the state in it's relationship with the mosque is not surprising. Had the state been pushed back when it was dabbling in the church it would have been less likely to have reached it's hands into the mosque right afterward. Yet the public said nothing, so now they can do little to stop it.
The pace at which a state moves toward tyranny is determined by the reaction of those who it governs. If the public remains silent as the state oversteps it's bounds with one group than all the rest have no ability to rely upon the others when the state comes stepping on their toes as well. The old poem "First They Came" is in this sense a warning to all portions of community when dealing with a government that attempts to grow at their expense.
As for France, the Roma have long been the canary in the coalmine.
When the government of France began deporting legal Romani citizens alongside newly immigrated Roma from Eastern Europe their countrymen remained silent. The deportations of Roma were looked at as an attempt to bring law and order back to the ghettos of France's cities. The scapegoat, the Roma, were just the objects upon which the French attached their collective sins. And in step with their history with France, the Roma took another one on the chin while Europe covered it's eyes.
The canary's calls were ignored. And even when the canary fell to the bottom of it's dirty cage... nobody said a word.
Now the fascist have moved on to another target that they had been eyeballing for years now.
Prison Or Piety?
"O children of Adam, We have bestowed upon you clothing to conceal your private parts and as adornment. But the clothing of righteousness - that is best. That is from the signs of All-h that perhaps they will remember." ~ Qur'an 7:26
The hijab is to Islam what the kippa is to Judaism. It is yet another way for the observant to show their faith and devotion to All-h. Not publicly, contrary to what the outside world might think, but in a very personal manner that professes their dedication to the path G-d has directed for them. It is only coincidence that this portion of their faith is visible to a world that does not fully understand or appreciate it.
Contrary to what a non-Muslim might think, the burqa is not mentioned in the Qur'an. However, the word "hijab" is mentioned in the Qur'an seven times (five times as hijab and twice as hijaban). In every occurrence the word hijab is used to mean "a barrier or veil between G-d and the human being". It is at no time mentioned as an article of clothing or a garment with which a female should adorn herself in the presence of a man.
In this light one should understand that if a woman, especially one in a secular society, chooses to adorn the article of clothing we refer to as a hijab they are doing so under their own will. It is not a compulsory portion of Islam and has not been commanded of them by the mosque or their imam. Thus the decision to wear the headscarf is one born out of their own religious ideals and is not a "prison" with which Islam "enslaves" them (as Western feminists and conservatives have often said).
This decision on behalf of the hijab wearing Muslim is much the same as the decision of orthodox Jews to wear the kippa (often refereed to in Yiddish as a yarmulke). Not once in the Torah does G-d command Jewish men to wear a a kippa. This is evident by the lack of a blessing associated with putting on the kippa since there is no commandment for Jews to recite (as is custom when putting on articles such as the tallit). Therefore the two garments are a rather personal decision, and though not born out of religious mandate, that should be respected due to the individual's personal relationship not with their religion but with their G-d.
For me, a conservative Jew who does wear a kippa daily, the decision to wear the kippa is one that reminds me of G-d's will for my life. It is a sentiment that is just as sacred as keeping my beard. And even though it is just a small circle piece of clothing, the kippa is a part of my daily routine that keeps my love, my passion, and my desire to serve G-d at the front of my mind. I can only imagine that for Muslim women wearing the hijab this article of their clothing holds just as much sentiment and significance for them as well.
Who Is Next?
The main reason that the hijab battles spreading across Europe should be worrisome even to those who are not religious is rather simple. In a society where we are willing to deny the rights of a few there is no sense of security for the many. If a government is able to restrict the practices of a portion of society they are more than capable of stripping the rights of every other citizen as well. And where a portion of society is capable of being isolated and set aside for devious intent the risk of crimes against all humanity remain a very real possibility.
When the first Germans were sent off to be reeducated the rest of Germany remained silent. That silence was a weapon in the hands of the government. It was the ammunition they needed to take the next step toward absolute control. With that silence the governments of man can strip away the identities of every individual and replace it with a soulless, heartless, and numb collective. The very essence of what we are as a society is denied to us as the image of what a faceless regime wants us to be replaces it. With our silence we not only lose our voice but also the very liberties we should be using our voices to defend.
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