Berlin — France’s burqa ban became law on Monday, and the full-face veil worn by an estimated 2,000 women in France is now outlawed in public spaces. With this law, Pres. Nicolas Sarkozy’s administration has jolted Europe’s soggy multiculturalism.
There is no shortage of hyperventilating commentary on the ban. The Paris-based International Herald Tribune published an editorial that termed the prohibition “veiled bigotry.” The Christian Science Monitor ran a headline equating the burqa ban with Nazi Germany’s gas chambers.
In other words, large segments of the Western media and the European Left seem to believe that the French government is comparable to the fascist Vichy regime of World War II.
Leftist Europe views the burqa ban as an expression of “Islamophobia,” a term that is supposed to conjure up memories of the lethal anti-Semitism of the Nazi period. This dangerous equation began to blanket university campuses and academic centers across Europe several years ago.
Equating anti-Semitism with Islamophobia not only minimizes the distinctions between them, it makes it more difficult to discuss the dangers of radical Islam, including its ubiquitous misogyny. But the term was probably intended to do that. The notion of “Islamophobia” emerged from the Islamic Republic of Iran following the revolution in 1979. According to Caroline Fourest and Fiammetta Venner, two French journalists who have written extensively on the subject, the Iranian mullahs created the idea as a response to international criticism of such practices as the forcing of women to wear headscarves and persecution of homosexuals and other violators of “Islamic morality.”
Over at Fox News, Dr. Phyllis Chesler delves into the reasons why the burqa is about stripping women of their human rights and constitutes a “health hazard” and “form of torture.” The enormous security risks posed by the full-face veil cannot be underestimated in an age of radical Islamic terror. Disguising one’s identity in Europe — where hotbeds of revolutionary Islamic cells exist — enables radical Islamists to advance their war against the West. Moreover, to a detached, objective spectator, it seems reasonable to expect to see the face of one’s fellow citizen.
Legally, the Sarkozy administration has confronted a sort of medievalism in modern France. But, as Andrew McCarthy highlighted last year, “This is a social problem, not a legal one.” Legal remedies are not a real panacea for tackling the spread of radical Islamic and sharia practices in Europe.
Honor killings, arranged marriages, compelling adolescent girls and women to drape themselves in full body and face coverings, torching embassies and murdering humans because of cartoons satirizing the Prophet Muhammad, female genital mutilation, terror attacks animated by political Islam — these are part and parcel of a larger political and social superstructure. Sadly, the West, particularly Europe, is simply tweaking the edges of the problem.
— Benjamin Weinthal is a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.