Muslims are different, which equates to “failure” & requires European adjustments
Zemni and Parker explain the failure of integration of Muslims in Europe by first saying that Muslims have an apparent inability to “get ahead” in the European context, meaning there is a failure to adopt styles and practices of daily life considered compatible with other national cultures. This is seen as a threat to European values. If the European’s pose this as a threat to European values, then it doesn’t seem prejudice. The way Europeans think about integration and multiculturalism is problematic because it provides an unfair treatment of Muslims. They are ostracized, looked down upon, and given unequal treatment. Some examples of unfairness is how at work, an employee can have a five minute cigarette break and it is widely accepted, but when Muslim asks for a five minute prayer break, it is seen as disruptive in the workplace.
For Muslims, the veil is a declaration of the need to curb the dangerous sexuality of women (and also of men). It recognizes that the threat sex poses for society and politics. On the other hand, the French system celebrates sex and sexuality as free of social and political risk. Islam is seen as a system that oppresses women, and French republicanism as one that liberates them. The French pride themselves on how egalitarian they are in regards to gender. In align with their “abstract individualism” and sameness principle they want to create no difference between sexes. But, Muslim theorists believe that this sexual difference poses a political problem and separating the sexes is a way of addressing it. “Islamic theory puts sex out there as a problem for all to see by conspicuously covering the body, while the French call for a conspicuous display of bodies in order to deny the problem that sex poses for republican political theory.” (Scott, p.167). The fact that the Muslim headscarf covers the woman’s body and thus shows sexual unavailability of a woman, this unavailability is profoundly disturbing to the way identity is lived by French women and men (Scott, p. 160).
Photo retrieved from: http://www.essay.ws/essay-on-gender-equality/
The French republic uses “abstract individualism” to define citizenship. This means that an individual is the essential human, regardless of religion, ethnicity, social position or occupation. There is a sense of “sameness,” and if you are a foreigner/immigrant, it is very important that you assimilate to the French culture and blend in to this idea of abstract individualism. The French see religion as a private, secular matter. As Joan said in the video, it’s okay if you practice your religion privately in your home but once you bring it out into the public- it’s wrong and against French ideals. Muslim’s threaten the French ideals because they have a very public religion. The headscarf is one of these public religious symbols that posed a problem since it falls far from “being the same as everyone else” and makes a woman who wears a headscarf an outsider.
Photo on Left: Retrieved from: https://hrhejab.wordpress.com
Photo on Right: Retrieved from: http://inminds.co.uk/hijab-protest.html
My thoughts on this debate and controversy are essentially that a woman should be able to decide if she wants to wear a headscarf or not- it is her choice, not the governments. Joan, in the video, made a good point- Why is this controversy even happening? The issue was blown out of proportion and spun out in odd directions. I thought the idea that a headscarf “shows too little and shows too much,” was so weird. Why is the conversation turned toward how much skin women should be showing and they need to be a sex symbol to guys to feel like they are feminine and the women’s sign of being free is her amount of sexual acts. French feminists say, “When Muslim women are free to sleep with as many men as they want to, then they will be integrated. Liberty is measured by the number of sexual acts they engage in” (Scott, p. 165) Overall, I think that having the French somewhat force foreigners to assimilate to be the same as everyone else decreases the diversity of their country as well. Why would you want everyone to be the same as everyone else? Where is the uniqueness in that?
Scott, J.W. (2007) The Politics of the Veil. Chapter 5. Retrieved from: https://bblearn.missouri.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-3161781-dt-content-rid-31263752_1/courses/SP2017.GERMAN.4810.01/Politics%20of%20the%20Veil%20-%20Ch5-notes.pdf
Hunter, S. ( 2002). Islam, Europe’s Second Religion. Print.