The French government has passed laws that make it a crime for a woman to wear a burqa while out in public. The theory behind this law is somehow having a woman who wanders the streets with her face all covered up somehow makes it difficult for her to act in accordance with French culture. Somehow, this act of covering up impairs the ability of the French people to “live together” as citizens of France. Judges at the European Court of Human Rights(ECHR) issued a ruling that supported the French government. We assume that people in France can now sleep comfortably knowing that the hordes of Muslim women who wear the burqa in public must uncover their faces to the world. Latest figures indicate that within a nation containing over 50,000,000 people only 1,900 are women seeking to cover their face!
I once taught in a college in New York City in which there were female students who wore a burqa. I met with them privately, discussed calmly their needs and we negotiated a compromise. I was told how close to their bodies I could approach before they felt uncomfortable. I agreed when one saw me in my office, they could bring a friend and the door was left open. However, they also agreed that since this was a public college, they would sit in groups with males. The sky did not fall. Life went on and we were a class in which all were shown respect for their ideas.
Oh, there were also Orthodox Jewish girls. They also did not wish to be in my office unless accompanied by another female. They also made clear that I could never touch their bodies like shake their hands. Again, life went on. Why can’t we simply display respect for those whose customs do not agree with our own??