Wrongs are protested the world over in many different guises, and quite rightly too. The only way things get better is for good people to speak up for what they think to be right. France’s move to ban the full Islamic veil (see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-11305033 for more details) is a wrong that was always going to draw protest from people that can see to the heart of the draconian legislation. However, the “iron veil” ban has now drawn terrorist threats from Osama bin Laden as he moves to seek retribution, rather than change, for France’s actions.
Looking back on the recent history of successful protests, including the overthrow of imperial rule in India and the end of the Vietnam war, it seems unenlightened to think that the solution to a wrong can be found in more wrong. Any terrorist activity orchestrated by al-Qaeda in protest, but more pertinently, in retribution, will not change France’s stance on the full veil. All it will do is strengthen their resolve on the matter and further entrench negative sentiment in France’s far right against Islam. It will also destroy all fabric of validity for the peaceful and legitimate protest for the ban on the full veil to be lifted.
There are a number of arguments that favour the ban, but each one of them is just a small piece of the debate that only appears to have validity when they are fixated upon without scrutiny. Telling people what they can and cannot wear is a step in the direction of a distopian society, and that in itself should be reason enough for the ban to be withdrawn. Banning the full veil is not a solution to extremism, and fixating on its introduction as a solution is a narrow sighted approach that ignores education, outreach, investigation and support channels.
The idea that the law should be accepted because it is a custom in western society to be able to see each others faces is perhaps the flimsiest of all. Surely this implies that on a cold day I shouldn’t be aloud to wear a hat and scarf around my face, or ever contemplate attending a masked ball. Skiing in the alps should also be taken off the list of things that we can do along with fencing, crash helmets and belly dancing. Twill be a very sad world indeed.