Tuesday, August 30, 2016

A reasoned explanation for the "burkini ban"

Paul Berman explains on Tablet Magazine here.

My standing-on-one-foot version is that the French, because of their history, are very concerned about religious coercion--they're concerned that they'll be pressured into following Islamic practice just as they were formerly forced, on pain of death, to follow Catholic practice.

Americans have a completely different perspective--since both freedom of religion and the separation of "church" and state are enshrined in U.S. law, I think that many Americans tend to consider religion-influenced clothing choice a freedom-of-religion issue, rather than a freedom-from-religion issue. I'd be curious to know where Israelis (especially Sabras [native-born Israelis]) and other non-American Jews stand on this.


Blogger Richardf8 said...

There's a lot wrong with this article. I will ignore the strawman he opens with, and move directly to a large false comparison. American "separation of Church and State" and French "Secularism" have little in common. The root of separation of church and state in America is the notion that the state should not interfere in the relationship between man and God. French secularism is the idea that religion has no place in the public sphere. He may be right about this being about battling "Islamism" but his insistence that the American "Separation of Church and State" is Secularism lite utterly misses the point.

Americans are appalled because this is a case where France is doing precisely what our "separation of church and state" is designed to defend against - regulating how its people practice their religion.

So here then, is the fundamental problem. Even if someone feels put out by the Hijab, as Marjani Satrapi did after the Iranian revolution, have another external force say you cannot wear it can engender resistance. Women are being placed in an awful position by this ban - the imams are telling them to do one thing with their bodies, the City is telling them to do the exact opposite thing with their bodies, and the idea that the women should determine how they dress falls by the wayside entirely.

The truth is that women's bodies are, as usual, the battlefield on which the war between the men who wish to ogle freely and the men who wish to jealously guard is waged.

Wed Aug 31, 11:41:00 PM 2016  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Thanks for pointing out the "women's-bodies-as-battlefield" angle, which I somehow missed.

Thu Sep 01, 05:26:00 PM 2016  

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