Sarkozy's Strong Distaste for Burka: French Secularism Questioned, Against Democracy, and Against Islamic Teachings

By Irfan Nugroho
About five million Muslims live in France today. France is now home to Western Europe’s largest Islamic community.

The growing number of Muslims is of course followed by the growing number of people who demand the rights and freedom to imply Islamic teachings in their daily lives.

Taken for example is the use of the burka, a garment covering women from head to toe, amongst the Muslim women in France.

But what a desperate, this brings anxiety from those who do not understand the peace of Islam, more specifically from the anti-Islam groups.

Last week, a group of 65 cross-party MPs, led by the Communist Andre Gerin, wanted a parliamentary commission set up to investigate the spread of the burka in France.

The call then gets “Amen” from French President Nicolas Sarkozy on June 22nd, 2009. Sarkozy has spoken out strongly against the wearing of the burka by Muslim women in France.

Why should the wearing of the burka be banned?

If Sarkozy believes in secularism, so French secularism should now be revised or updated. If those backing the statement believe in democracy, this is not democracy, where is the rights and freedom for the French Muslim women to imply Islamic teachings. Of course, this is against Islam.

French Secularism Questioned
The basic principle of secularism is clear, the separation of religion and state. There should be no state interference in religion. As well, religious teachings should not intervene in state.

If there is the real separation of religion and state, so state ought not to banish its people from carrying religious teachings.

Sarkozy said the wearing of the burka is not a sign of religion in state, but a sign of subservience. Indeed, he was right. That is subservience to Islamic teachings. Subservience is necessary in Islam because on the subservience to God, there is a peace.

Since 2004, the French Government has prohibited the wearing of headscarves in schools. Now, Sarkozy and anti-Islam groups demand the spread of the wearing of burka investigated that finally prohibited as well. In the future, what’s more?

Where is the right and freedom for the Muslims to be subservient? Is this against democracy?

Against Democracy
Principally, democracy guarantees that all members of society have equal access to power, and that all members of society enjoy universally recognized freedom of liberties.

The Act 2004-228 of 15 March 2008 prohibits “the wearing of symbols or clothing by pupils that clearly demonstrate a religious affiliation” in public primary and secondary schools in France.

Physically, the Act does not mention particular religion. But, it’s clear that the target is the Islamic headscarves.

Related to the principle of democracy, the fact in France shows that the act has indirectly prevented the Muslim women wearing headscarves from access to job market, even more to be civil servants.

Where is equal access to power if the Muslim women wearing headscarves are discriminated and forgotten by French society?

Where is freedom for the Muslim women to imply Islamic teachings in their daily lives?

Sarkozy and anti-Islam groups consider the burka a prison, but some Muslim women wear it based on their subservience to their husbands, to Islamic teachings, and even more, to God.

For that reason, the banning of wearing the burka is now against the Islamic teachings.

Against Islamic Teachings
Sarkozy’s call for banning the burka and headscarves is clearly against the Islamic teachings. It is clearly said in the Koran; Sura An-Noor (24), verse 31:
And tell the believing women to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts) and not to show off their adornment except only that which is apparent (like both eyes for necessity to see the way, or outer palms of hands or one eye or dress like veil, gloves, head-cover, apron, etc.), and to draw their veils all over Juyubihinna (i.e. their bodies, faces, necks and bosoms) and not to reveal their adornment except to their husbands, or their fathers, or their husband's fathers, or their sons, or their husband's sons, or their brothers or their brother's sons, or their sister's sons, or their (Muslim) women (i.e. their sisters in Islam), or the (female) slaves whom their right hands possess, or old male servants who lack vigour, or small children who have no sense of feminine sex. And let them not stamp their feet so as to reveal what they hide of their adornment. And all of you beg Allah to forgive you all, O believers, that you may be successful.

So now, there is no reason to support Sarkozy and other anti-Islam’s call for banning the wearing of either burka or headscarves amongst the Muslim women. The meaning of the above tenet is very clear to tackle Sarkozy’s strong distaste for the burka and headscarves.