One of the more interesting battlegrounds on the cultural front is French President Sarkozy's stated intention to outlaw the burqa from the streets of France.
Mr. Sarkozy calls the all-encompassing female Muslim garment "a sign of subservience, a sign of debasement" that deprives the women of their identity. Indeed, when the face is totally masked, it could be anybody under the black or blue sack.
This issue is not a low-rent culture clash about a minor religious custom: it is all about individual freedom and the survival of Western values under the Islamic immigration onslaught.
Misguided persons (often of a leftist persuasion) argue unconvincingly that the women attired in fabric prisons do so entirely of their own free will—see the curiously titled New York Times piece, My Burqa Is None of Your Business, by Ronald Sokol [email him] (July 2, 2009) for a liberal male view. Certainly some women willingly hide their faces and everything else based on religious belief, but the social pressure to conform to traditional oppression within many Muslim households is intense. There may be little choice involved for many.
No, the burqa is not just an expression of Muslim female modesty, but it is also a highly effective territorial marking device, showing Islam's expansion into Europe and beyond in a personal and daily manner. It is an obtrusive political statement of demographic jihad: "We're here, we're not changing, and we're not leaving."
On cue, some top terrorists piped up with threats against France for having the grit to stand up for its own cultural values:
"Now leaders of Al Qaeda's North African network have called on French Muslims to react 'with the utmost hostility'.
"One Islamic extremist website carried the message: 'We will seek dreadful revenge on France by all means at our disposal, for the honour of our daughters and sisters.
"'Our Mujahadin followers must not remain silent in the face of such provocation and such injustice.' "[Al Qaeda vows 'dreadful revenge' on France over plans to ban the burqa, Daily Mail, July 1, 2009]
The increase in burqas on French streets must be pretty bad—even the commies are complaining:
" 'Today, in many city neighborhoods, we see several Muslim women wearing the burka, which covers and fully envelops the body and the head, like a moving prison, or the nijab which allows only the eyes to be shown,' said Communist MP Andre Gerin, a legislator and one of the leaders of the drive for the parliamentary commission." [French legislators worried about the rise of the burqa, Deutsche Welle, June 18, 2009]
Every shrouded Muslim woman on the streets of Paris or Marseilles is a statement of contempt for Western civilization and its values. Muslim males are flaunting their intention and ability to enslave women on the home turf of the Enlightenment. Islamics openly condemn the whole enterprise of freedom, democracy and individual rights even as they flock here in the millions.
Some Muslims come to Europe and America merely for the money (aka "a better life") like other immigrants. However, as scholar Bernard Lewis has observed, "In earlier times, it was inconceivable that a Muslim would voluntarily move to a non-Muslim country" [2007 Irving Kristol Lecture given at AEI].
Lewis was referring to Islam's attitude of superiority, which makes the religion largely incompatible with other beliefs. Islam presents a complete life package, more than a religion but an authoritarian lifestyle that defines the tiniest aspects of acceptable Muslim behavior. (See Ask The Imam to get an idea of the extent to which Muslims obsess over the proper Islamic conduct about the most inconsequential things.)
So Muslims are particularly unsuitable candidates for any degree of assimilation, and often arrive with a chip on their shoulders. But acculturation has become passé in some quarters, and the ideology of multiculturalism permits the Sons of Mohammed to benefit from the material largesse while keeping the retro customs of the old country, like honor killing and polygamy.
Speaking of polygamy, the burqa promotes a vision of identical, identity-free females as interchangeable parts that can be easily replaced, like a new oil filter from Grand Auto. Islam allows men up to four wives as long as they can be fed and clothed adequately—a privilege not accorded to women. Another plus for Muslim immigrants to the West is the treasure chest of welfare benefits in places like Britain that can enable a poor man step up to a multi-wife lifestyle.
Confirming their reluctance to assimilate, Muslim protest rallies routinely feature participants with signs attacking free speech and democracy, as well as expressing the intention to dominate the whole world with their totalitarian religion.
A future Islamic planet is not a pretty picture. Islam does not believe in gender equality and the Koran say that men are in charge of women. Under sharia law and in custom, Muslim men have far more worth than women. For example, under Islamic law a man may divorce his wife by saying "I divorce you" three times (called talaq), while a woman seeking divorce has no such ease of separation. In Islamic court, a woman's testimony is worth half that of a man.
Nor does Islam have a tradition of civic equality. Muslim societies are built around the Koran, which says killing infidels is a Muslim duty if non-believers do not submit to the will of Allah. One source counts 109 verses exhorting Muslims to go to war with infidels. Historically, Islam was indeed spread by the sword rather than the more gentle persuasion used by Christianity and Buddhism.
Westerners, accustomed to equal justice under law,, may be surprised to find the hierarchical structure of Islamic societies, such as the infidel tax non-Muslims are required to pay. Called jizya, it is essentially a poll tax forced from non-Muslims to support Islam. Muslims like to babble that "there is no compulsion in religion" but the extortion of jizya shows how Islam is in no way a "religion of peace."
Of course, there are also public safety issues associated with allowing masked persons to roam the streets. Use of the burqa as a politically correct disguise for criminal or terrorist activity has not been a rarity. Scholar and blogger Daniel Pipes has compiled a rather lengthy page of examples: Niqabs and Burqas as Security Threats. The perps are often men disguising themselves as women, but not always.
Here are a few examples taken from Dr. Pipes's list:
I fled police in my mother-in-law's burka, says 21/7 bombing suspect: Yassin Omar also shaved his arms and carried a handbag in order to plant a bomb in London's Underground in 2005.
Burka Bandit Hits Hiddenite Bank: A North Carolina bank was robbed by an Islam-clad person in 2007.
Pipes additionally noted that businesses like banks and jewelry stores don't want to serve unidentifiable people: Institutions Push Back Against Head Coverings. Retailers don't appreciate shoppers in ski masks for the same reason.
In today's reality of worldwide terrorism, the idea that there is some sort of right to walk around in disguise is ridiculous. A compilation of laws (State Codes Related To Wearing Masks) shows that the American legal system is not kindly disposed toward public concealment of identity.
Or even better, take the whole family back to Dar al-Islam—the rather copious lands occupied by Mohammed's followers. Then westerners who love freedom and justice wouldn't have to look at their ugly oppression on daily display.
And hopefully Sarkozy and France will actually ban the burqa in spite of the squawker chorus and threats.
Leadership on the subject of western values is in short supply these days, not helped by the culture of apology now holding sway in the White House.
Brenda Walker (email her) lives in Northern California and publishes two websites, LimitsToGrowth.org and ImmigrationsHumanCost.org. She increasingly appreciates the wonders of geography, that people are happier and more peaceful when they can live among their un-diverse tribal members.