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Arabeyes: Moroccan woman refused French citizenship for burqa

Last week a French resident was refused citizenship on the grounds that she was “insufficiently assimilated.” The woman, referred to in the Press as “Faiza M.,” is a Moroccan citizen but has lived in France since 2000 with her husband, a French citizen, and three children, all born in France. Although most articles on the subject quickly pointed to Faiza's wearing of the burqa (or, given that she was from Morocco, more likely of the niqaab), Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff of PostGlobal indicates that other factors, such as Faiza's refusal to show her face even to a female officer, and her statement that voting should be for men only, were involved.

Regardless, the incident has set a precedent and has stirred up the feelings of bloggers around the world. The Angry Arab remarks briefly on the story, explaining:

Social services reports said the burqa-wearing Faiza M lived in “total submission to her male relatives”. Faiza M said she has never challenged the fundamental values of France.

The story garnered quite a few comments; one in particular reads:

As far as that niqab business, why would a person who is going to live most of her life inside of a big sack want to live in a Western country? Why?
I have no respect for anyone who would think that a woman must walk around all day in a niqab of any kind. It is a human rights abuse. Human beings need sunlight and air. I sat on a beach in Syria and watched a father and his sons frolic in the wonderful sunlight and cool water on a very hot day. On the beach, in the sand, completely covered by those monstrous niqabs, were the mother and daughters! How could any decent human being, let alone a decent father, allow only one part of his family to enjoy the beauty and the coolness of the sea? It made me physically ill to think about those poor girls and what they were learning about what it meant to be female. Why was it proper for the father and the boys to swim without shirts and in shorts? And I do not want to hear about it being ” a cultural thing” or that the woman freely chooses to live like that. If she has, she has been brainwashed. It is a disgusting abusive practice. If it is torture to hood prisoners, then it sure as hell is torture, whether willingly or unwillingly, to place yourself in a big sack and not see or feel the light of day.

Internation Musing (a group blog with writers in Turkey and Greece, among other places) also had a strong opinion about the case:

Their two children have the French nationality, she not. Appeal is not possible: bravo!
But in fact she is a ticking time bomb. And that's scary.

Nuseiba has a considerably different opinion:

This narrow interpretation I will write about in another post, however, right now, i’d like to focus on this woman who has been rejected for expressing a cultural and religious belief. I’d like to point out that I’m not much of a supporter of the burqa, because it is not sanctioned in Islam and women who do wear it do so unnecessarily. However I do support a woman’s right to wear one–whether for cultural or religious reasons.

The blogger concludes:

As I pointed out earlier, the notion of laicite, which this ruling was premised on, cannot apply in equal fashion to all citizens of France today because there are many who belong to the Islamic faith, who wear burqas, hijabs, turbans, yalmulkes etc, who have different cultural practices that cannot only be expressed in private (which is how the French understand religion to be). So what we’re seeing is a clash of values, a France imposing its normative understandings of equality and justice on individuals who see it nothing more than an unjust coercive act of the state.

Sabria Jawhar, writing for Arabisto, argues against the ruling as well, stating:

Here’s what French government representative Emmanuelle Prada-Bordenave said about Mabchour: “From her own declarations she lives an almost reclusive life, cut off from French society.
She has no idea of secularism or the right to vote. She lives in total submission to the men in her family. She appears to find that normal.”
Normal?

Excuse me. But who is Prada-Bordenave to say what is normal? Normal by Western standards? Must Mabchour completely conform in every respect to France’s cultural values to be a French citizen?
Speaking French alone is a sign of assimilation into French society. Mabchour even has a male gynecologist, a fact that most Muslim women would find extremely difficult to face. That is considerable assimilation.

I don’t know whether Mabchour is submissive. Perhaps by her own standards she has a fair and equitable marriage. I frankly think that is her business.

Creative Commons-licensed photo by janjochemo

26 comments

  • Lisa

    She needs to contribute to the conversation that is France and she isn’t even aware a conversation is taking place. Bravo France.

  • Pingback: Jillian C. York

    […] Korean, and a German all weighed in, all with different opinions.  I covered it yesterday for Global Voices as well, quoting several Arab-Americans, as well as a white American, and someone of unknown […]

  • […] puedes suscribirte para que te llegue por correo electronico o por feed RSS . Gracias por visitarme!Arabeyes: Moroccan woman refused French citizenship for burqa: para aquellos interesados en las relaciones entre identidad nacional y migración, un caso […]

  • Christian Soldier

    I think our country should do the same as France and not let any muslims enter our country. They hate everything about a free society anyways. I am glad that france is doing this maybe they have grown a spine..

  • “Turns out, these claims could not be further from the truth. An interview with her has revealed quite a bit about her. She does not wear the burqa because her husband has told her to. “They say I wear the niqab because my husband told me so. I want to tell them” she said. “ It is my choice. I take care of my children and I leave the house when I please. I have my own car. I do the shopping on my own. Yes, I am a practicing Muslim, I am orthodox. But is that not my right?”

  • Christian Soldier

    As I said in my last comment this is a free society we have no rules on what we must wear or what our women can wear and do. So,you guys just wont like it here. You will be surrounded by infidels, yuck!Oh by the way I have three sons that have been brought up the way I have seen muslims bringing there children up. But one difference, they are after muslims because they are the true infidels. I guess you learn from others? And to be totally honest it kinda freaks me out when I go to the mall or somewhere and see these women wrapped up like bank robbers. They cannot be comfortable in America with all this christian evil around them?????????

  • Thanks Nuseiba – I wrote a pretty lengthy post about it on my own blog, post-interview reading.

    Christian Solider – do you actually believe that most Muslims think that way? Most do not. Christians are people of the book, not “infidels.” Give me a break. The vast majority of Muslims are tolerant of pretty much everyone else. You’re speaking of a tiny minority, which probably does NOT include Ms. Silmi.

  • Sorry Lisa, I thought I responded to this earlier: “She needs to contribute to the conversation that is France”

    I don’t see France as a conversation. Have Muslims (and other religious people wishing to wear religious symbols – I say Muslims first only because they are most prominent in the debate) truly been given the opportunity to participate in the conversation about whether or not to allow religious symbols in schools?

  • jay arthur

    Quote: “The vast majority of Muslims are tolerant of pretty much everyone else.” No, no, no. The vast majority of Muslims consent to the hate and discrimination practiced against non-Muslims. Have any of the dozens of apostasy laws been repealed in Islamic countries? Is there freedom of religion? Please think before you right silly statements.

    Jillian, understand that some of us “infidels” like the term “infidel.”. What ever islam believes, we reject. If faith is what Islam is then we want something else, anything else.

    Do you think that being “People of the book” is an honor? Do you know what it means to be a dhimmi? Ask the copts! Have you read the references to Christians and Jews in the Quran? Where are a few nice things but 80% of referneces are negative and vile. Do you think we are lower than animals because we don’t believe (that is from al-anfal, the spoils of war, book 8, the quran), (Do you think the “people of the book” like being third class cistizens? (after women, the second-class). Do you think Muslims have a right to torture and mutilate us if we speak out against Islam? ( Al-maeda, the table, book 5 verse 33). If we were not “people of the book,” just plain vanilla pagans, the Quran says to slaughter us (but only to subdue the “people of the book”). Is this OK with you? Anything wrong here?

    And then there are the ahadith. Has any Muslim actually read them and Islam’s early works? Do the hate and violence bother Muslims? Do they have anything to say about the raids, murders, conquest, plunder, torture, enslavement and rapes? I have never seen a Muslim condemn any of this.

    Either Muslims don’t know the Quran and hadith or they do know and are deceitful. Take your pick.

    Back to the case of the woman… She has no place in the West. Muslim values are not Western values. Notice how Muslims want to end our freedoms because things we say offend them, yet the vile things Muslims do don’t seem to bother them much — and neither does the hate and violence in the Quran and hadith.

    The burka is just one more element in the misogenistic war against women (along with polygamy, fgm, harassment, honor killings, child marriage, forced marriage,etc…). Not that the burka “protects” women as seen in this GVO posting
    http://globalvoicesonline.org/2008/07/22/mourning-a-sexually-harassed-egypt/

    Ask yourself why? Think, for a change! Why the harassment? Could it be the culture? the religion?

    Jillian, bad times are coming and I blame Islam. Muslims are not honest about their religion and so they cannot change it. Instead they blame everybody and everything else. We need people to be honest about Islam and tell Muslims the things they don’t want to hear (and wont hear from the media, schools and government). I am pessimistic.

    Kactuz

    .. KOran and . is

  • @ jay – I am so saddened by your comment, honestly.

    I do recognize that you are right about the governments of several Muslim countries, first of all, and I should state right off that I disagree with those laws.

    That said, your comments like “I have never seen a Muslim condemn any of this” (I have) and “She has no place in the West” just sicken and sadden me. Intolerance like yours has no place here.

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