Some years ago, I announced with shock and horror, that some French government
officials had begun aggressively attempting to ban “religious expressions” in schools, including but not limited to Islamic, Jewish, and Sikh head
coverings. The racist and hypocritical laws somehow passed, despite the protests from religious and secular people who believed that the bans should not include clothing worn specifically for the purpose of modesty and/or self defense. A person who wishes to cover themselves for spiritual/psychological reasons is doing so for the same reasons that someone undergoing chemotherapy may cover their head due to hair loss. Wearing modest clothing is not an exclusively religious act, and is in fact, separate from one’s religion. Taking off someone’s clothes doesn’t change their belief system. To force someone to expose their body who may have smooth skin is as much a violation of privacy and right to self defense as to force someone photosensitive or with another skin disease, to expose themselves.
Not to mention, it is impossible, sans actual religious symbols, to definitively say what a person’s religion is by how they are dressed. On a hot day, even an atheist may don a scarf. So how in the world will someone decide who can wear what? If a Rastafarian wears a flowing head scarf, is it then okay because she is not Muslim? If a woman is wearing a bonnet, will someone check her to see if she is a Quaker or Amish? If she is, will they decide that she may not wear a bonnet,
and her Muslim friend can, since the bonnet isn’t viewed as stereotypically
Islamic? Since when does racism, and ethnic sterotyping become part and parcel with being secular? Aren’t we, as people in western nations, supposed to be getting away from that irrational mentality?
Would I be banned from working in the public sector in Europe because my chest has my Catawba style snake signature and a Sankofa symbol?
No, I wouldn’t. In fact, I might even be encouraged to show off my cleavage as much as possible, even outside of spirituality focused events. I would be applauded for my pride in my cultures, and perhaps even invited to talk to children in public schools about my spirituality and my cultures.
This is exactly why it is not fair. Faith, spirituality, and philosophy are all part of the human experience. To attempt to extract them from it, and pretend like it doesn’t exist in an educational setting is trying to rewrite history and anthropology. What’s worse is that this is not truly being done to protect children or to give them a more balanced view. It is done to “whitewash” education, leaving a gap that can be filled with whatever propaganda is profitable and convenient to the powers in government at the moment. At the moment, that propaganda is decidedly anti Muslim, and less intensely, but certainly anti Jewish.
It’s being done with the same viciousness as its predecessor, anti Black..or let’s just cut to the chase: It’s flat out racism.
One of the sad facts about the “religious expression” bans is that the primary target is the Arab/Islamic head scarf commonly called “hijab”, though the different styles of scarf have different names. Racism is exactly how the laws got passed. The governments are exploiting the fear and division between ethnic and religious minorities to keep the protests outside the Islamic community to a minimum. Most Jews dress fairly secular, and at the school age, religious Jewish girls are wearing long sleeves and skirts. None of them fears that the doors of their school will close to them because their skirts aren’t above the knees, to prove that they are adequately secular.
No one of African faith fears that they will be banned from their job at a French or German company because they happen to be wearing conch or cowrie shells.
The prime candidates for the discrimination at the moment are Muslim, and well, according to the news, they’re all ticking suicide time bombs, right?
The problem is that once these kinds of things become law, the targeted groups could be anyone. The police could decide tomorrow that
Native Americans are secretly trying to take over the world, and a German guy whose dad was an American soldier who was part Cherokee, could be fired for having a wolf tattoo.
African and Native American faith and Hinduism aren’t currently viewed as threats, but from the resurgence of bhakti type movements being branded as cults, Native American casino scandals getting more media attention, and Voudun priests being blamed for modern slavery and human sacrifices in Africa, we can see that this is coming. All people who believe that people should be judged based on their individual behavior, and not by superficial things like their color or how much of their bodies they cover or not, should beware. When the bell tolls, it’s tolling for you…and if you tolerate racist idiocy in the law when someone else is the target, it won’t be long before you are the target too.
So to everyone who is now basically being forced to disrobe just to go to work or school, know that some of us out here know what you are feeling. We have also been arrested for braiding hair due to laws that were passed without a popular vote. We’ve been shut out of jobs for not wanting to put harmful chemicals in our hair. Some have had people attempt to make us embarassed about our ancestry if we could “pass”. Some have been pressured to paint our faces and wear shoes that damage our feet, or diet in order to “project the proper professional image”.
There are many of us out here who have been touched by the demons of
politicizing looks in one way or another, and we have not forgotten.
We want to live in a world where even if we can’t walk about naked without lustful stares, we can at least cover what we want, without family or the government pressuring one way or another.
So those of you out there who are still fighting the good fight, I am with you, and I thank you. Part of this site’s mission is to promote freedom to dress according to our personal tastes, and not the harmful trends. I hope that this site has helped to push forward positive trends…people wearing beautiful garments, and living more productive lifestyles, and not abandoning the wisdom of our own and even other cultures’ elders when we see that incorporating a “foreign” custom can improve us as humans.
ModernTraditional.com remembers the hijab bans. Let’s keep striving for the day when they will be abolished…and look forward to the time when we even laugh in gratefulness that mankind evolved beyond such silly policies.
The Forgotten Hijab Bans