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So, France becomes the first country to ban the burka....
by Christos Mouzeviris
2011-04-16 09:48:49
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It is done! After so long of debating on the particular issue, France is officially the first country to ban the Islamic face cover gowns for women, the burka and the niqab. Protests are almost sure to happen, not only in France but in many other countries, both European with a significant Muslim population and of course the Islamic nations.

Was the decision right? Depends how you see it, and what are they trying to achieve with it. France has the largest Muslim population in Europe of about 6 million people. What are the messages that are trying to pass to its youth and is this the right way to do it?

I personally detest both the niqab and the burka. Us humans are creatures that communicate with our facial expressions and the eyes, so making a woman to wear those two garments is certainly dehumanizing her and cutting her off any social interaction apart from her fellow sisters in Islam. I realize that that is the whole purpose of it, but let's be modern humans yes? In the year 2011 there are still women that feel that this is a social norm? No matter what your religion is, degrading yourself into that position is outdated. Religion still plaguing the lives of modern humans in Europe? Laughable!

Us Europeans have liberated our women ages ago, and the fight is still on for full equality between the two genders. I can not see how Europeans, either by birth or by residence can still accept those practices. We have liberated ourselves from the grip and manipulation of the Catholic and the Orthodox Church and have freed our spirits from any moral enslavement and limitation that Christianity have tried to put us through, killing any freedom of expression and destroying all great ancient cultures of Europe, notably the Greek. We should not allow a relatively new religion in Europe, Islam to take us back centuries. Besides you can be Muslim and European, with European values. Turkey is a close example, a more secular version of Islam, even though they are not quite there yet. I really dream to see a European version of Islam, but from what I see it ain't gonna happen anytime soon.

Is the ban right though? In my opinion, NO! Not only it will harden the position of the Muslim communities in Europe as they will feel they are being targeted again; it will cause divisions between the populations as the Muslims will feel (wrongly) that they are being discriminated against. But what happened when in Italy they banned any sign the crucifix from their schools? Did the Catholics or the Christians protest and threatened anyone? No! So why are Muslims feel that they must do so? Are other issues behind their behavior? Why they can't accept that if they want to live in Europe and call themselves Europeans, they will have to leave some cultural aspects of their countries of origin behind! If not, they will always be "guests" in Europe, no matter what their passport says.

Could we see it as a rejection of the Western or European way of thinking? Absolutely! But banning any signs of any religious expression does not help, either is the burka or the crucifix. It attracts more attention to the cultural differences and in fact it feeds any radical elements while giving them more power and arguments to turn the Islamic community against the native European one. If what they are trying to achieve is this, then congratulations they most likely will. Are they trying to deter more Muslims from entering France, with the recent developments in the Arab world? I guess that is the point! Perhaps that is why they almost closed their borders with Italy, trying to prevent any illegal immigrants arriving in Italy via Lampedusa, entering France! So much for respect for the Schengen agreement!

But then why allow a population of 6 million enter your country in the first place, if you do not wish to integrate them and allow any further immigration from Muslim nations? Is Europe turning more far-right again? I do not understand, how any of our Governments think, when they want to attract immigrants from non European countries, but then just like in Switzerland, they go and vote for laws that they know that create divisions and frictions. You do not mind if a Turk serves your meal in a restaurant, but you do get upset when you see the minarets in your country and you vote for laws to ban them! Absurd!

In my opinion they are not interested in the integration of the Muslim minority in Europe, or any other ethnic minority. They are simply guest workers that are supposed to be segregated and live in poverty, so the multinationals based in our lands will have always cheap available workforce! If they really did want to integrate the Muslims, they would not just ban the burka now, after decades of immigration and while we are in the third generation of immigrants. They would have embraced Islam and one of the official religions of the state, they would allow it to be taught in schools together with the christian teachings but not by any Islamic preacher but by a teacher, while promoting European values to the children of the immigrants. Teach them the Islamic preachings, but also teaching them how in Europe we think of women and the importance of limiting the ultra religious beliefs, creating not just modern humans, but European Muslims out of the children of Arab or other Muslim descent.

In that way, we would have a European version of Islam and their kids would feel more comfortable within our societies. They would not feel any need to wear any burka or niqab, as they would have come in contact with the European values by a person who taught them the Quran. Of course you will ask, would any Muslim accept that, would Muslim immigrants allow their children to be taught European values in such ways? Is the Quran compatible with Europe? Well that brings the question : Is "Multiculturalism" viable and the right way to build a modern society, or it is just a way of dismantling it?

You do not become European citizen just so you have a passport and the right to stay in the country. You also have some obligations, apart from rights. And one of those is the effort to integrate and be a constructive member to your community. You do not have to convert to Christianity just to fit in, but you certainly need to understand and accept certain values of your host country. But are we really trying to bring the two communities together, or to separate them for good?

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Emanuel Paparella2011-04-17 11:19:39
Perhaps the ultimate question which this reflection leads to is this: is the Bible or any religion for that matter compatible with Europe? In the liberation tradition of free speech as promoted by the likes of Stuart Mill is the EU willing to grant a voice in the agora to religion, any religion, or does secularism ipso facto imply intolerance toward religion thought of as “medieval” and retrograde vis a vis the Enlightenment, to be relegated to the private sphere? That is to say, does the Enlightenment remain to enlighten itself? Which is to say, there is a flip side to the argument above outlined. I have reflected plenty on this subject in Ovi magazine and sad to say the “modern” version of Western civilization quite often comes up short vis a vis traditional values and often manages to cheat itself of its cultural identity. E.g., as an example is a link to one such article titled “Christianity: a Private Affair or part of the European identity?” That article ends with a chiding of many so called “Christians” of ignorance and prejudice against their own religion by a Jew and it ends thus:

Weiler points out that there is something comic bordering on the tragic in observing those most opposed to any reference to religion or Christianity in the draft Constitution at the forefront of opposition to Turkish membership in the Union. It is indeed an insult to Christianity and its teaching of grace and tolerance to claim that there is no place in Europe for a non-Christian country or worse, for non-Christian individuals. Weiler observes that he is an observant Jew, son of a rabbi with European roots that go back hundreds of years and that his ancestors were often the victims of Christians and Christianity; yet he finds it puzzling that anyone would fear the recognition and acknowledgment of the dominant culture (i.e., Christianity) as an empirical historical fact, and reveals a fear of his which is also an insight, and it is this: “If I have a fear, it is the following: to deny the relevance of the Christian heritage in European public symbolism and European public space, for to deny that is to deny, too, the relevance of my own religiosity in that same public space.” That would probably be just fine for those who wish to eliminate religion altogether from both the public and the private sphere, but it remains a shortsighted social and political strategy, for is a body politic is based on the rejection of one’s history and heritage it will be built on sand and will not survive for very long.

Emanuel Paparella2011-04-17 11:20:15
Here is the link to the whole article:

Christos Mouzeviris2011-04-17 13:46:47
i guess the answer was given by Sarkozy Merkel and Cameron, when they all stated that "Multiculturalism has failed".....and i will also quote one great Greek's thinker words(Glykatzi-Arveler) "Byzantium survived so many years because of its monoculturalism"......note that i mention -culturalism and not racial or ethnic...byzantium was a poly ethnic society but its culture was one...greek orthodox christianity with roman heritage...i guess if we want to create a vast state in Europe or other regions of the world, we must look at the roman and byzantine empires....if not, then let's leave it...

Christos Mouzeviris2011-04-17 13:53:11
I personally accept Christianity as part of European identity but only because of its long tradition and its role in shaping our heritage for bad or good..To me, being a christian is only a part of my European/Greek heritage than actually being a religious person..I am agnostic, meaning that I believe in "A" God, but i think that none of the human religions, dogmas or sects can actually give a precise picture of what this God is...So I can never understand any signs of ultra religious devotion, as to me this is a blind devotion to something vague, as believing in aliens and UFOs...we do not know what it is exactly, we know that there must be something "out there" we haven't got a clue...yet with religion we shape our lives around it, while with UFOs we just make sci-fi movies and tv series....

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