Is The Ban On Muslim Headscarves In French Schools Justified? If So, Why? If Not, Why?

1585 words - 7 pages

I will advance the thesis that the banning on Muslim headscarves in French schools is not justified. By saying that the French ban on Muslim headscarves in public schools is not justified, I mean that, even though this ban was implemented as a means to neutralize public space, in hope of developing autonomy, as well as to protect females’ rights in traditional Muslim communities, the ban actually infringes on a more pressing rights of a person, and thus means that it is not justified as it does more harm than good. I have two reasons for attacking the justification of the ban on Muslim headscarves; first, the children’s autonomy; and second, positive and negative liberty. As mentioned above, my thesis asserting that the ban on Muslim headscarves in French public schools is not justified is heavily dependent on the fact that “banning adults from wearing religious symbols in public institutions an infringement of basic human rights (Gereluk 2005, p.260) ”, in which I will illustrate that the French government’s justifications are actually derived from a mere intolerance of Islam; I will first disprove the justifications provided for this ban and reveal their foundation of intolerance, then I will proceed to prove the that the ban is limiting basic human rights.
In political discourse, one of the most important features of the French government is the laïcité, which is the French commitment to a separation of religion and state. Due to this commitment of separation, the laïcité marks religious identity as private, so by no means does religion interfere with the public side of France, and thus it is the duty of the state to preserve public areas by excluding all religious beliefs, which, then makes it neutral. More specifically, the idea of neutralizing is an attempt to, “promote the autonomy of persons by liberating them from the grip of traditional loyalties and identities (Laborde 2006, p.354),” yet the idea of autonomy is the ability to be one’s own person, so by forcing people to dismiss their religion, the ban is actually obstructing autonomy. In this context of Muslim headscarves in public school, officials are supposed to enforce the removal of all religious symbols upon entry, yet the only symbol that has been vehemently attacked are Muslim headscarves, whereas Jewish yarmulkes, Sikh turbans, and Christian crucifixes are often allowed. With this this lax enforcement on most religions, the French intolerance of Islam is displayed because the government is openly discriminating against them by enforcing this ban, while dismissing cases against other religions, and thus proving that this idea of neutralizing the public space is actually an agenda to prohibit Islam in public.
In a similar sense of intolerance, the second justification that supports the ban is the protection of Muslim girls, who are vulnerable as members of a hierarchical tradition. So this ban forces them to ignore their religion when in school, yet, once again, the French...

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