More obstacles for French Sikhs?

A recent French decision brings debates about multiculturalism and accommodation back into focus. France’s highest administrative court prevented the wife of a French national and mother of 3 French- born children from obtaining French citizenship based purely on her wearing of a niqab– for “insufficient assimilation” into France:

…last month, Frances highest administrative court upheld a decision to deny citizenship to Ms. Silmi, 32, on the ground that her radical practice of Islam was incompatible with French values like equality of the sexes. [link]

The decision received support from some French-Muslim officials who do not support women’s wearing ofpew__banning_muslim_head_scarves.gif niqabs.

The ruling on Ms. Silmi has received almost unequivocal support across the political spectrum, including among many Muslims. Fadela Amara, the French minister for urban affairs, called Ms. Silmis niqab a prison and a straitjacket. It is not a religious insignia but the insignia of a totalitarian political project that promotes inequality between the sexes and is totally lacking in democracy, Ms. Amara, herself a practicing Muslim of Algerian descent, told the newspaper Le Parisien in an interview published Wednesday. [link]

There are major differences between the niqab and Sikh religious dress. The objection to the niqab that it’s incompatible with the French value of equality of the sexes doesn’t carry over to Sikh dress. The dastaar or pag doesn’t pose the same dilemma as both men and women may wear it, and it is not seen as an inhibition on gender equality generally.

[Ms. Silmi] appealed, invoking the right to religious freedom. But in late June, the Council of State, the judicial institution with final say on disputes between individuals and the public administration, upheld the ruling. She has adopted a radical practice of her religion, incompatible with essential values of the French community, particularly the principle of equality of the sexes, the ruling said. [link]

But the decision sets a troubling example because it highlights the shifting balance between freedom of religion guaranteed in the French Constitution and secularism, with secularism’s increasing weight. It is still unclear what consequences this decision will have for other groups or outside the immigration arena.

How will the consequences of this decision impact French Sikhs?

Maybe the impact won’t be great. Immigration benefits are hard to compare with Constitutional rights because they are considered benefits, not rights that all individuals are entitled to. To deny a benefit is not the same as denying a right.

But the importance of this decision is in the justification for the denial and what that signifies- the waning of the right to freedom of religion in the face of secularism, and the continuing French expectation of complete assimilation into French culture.

Civil rights groups have had a lot of success in the U.S. where the right to practice one’s religion is heavily protected. But given the shifting weight towards secularism, it seems that this right will be much more difficult to win in France.


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15 Responses to “More obstacles for French Sikhs?”

  1. Suki says:

    What is happening in France is the same thing that is gonna happen in many other western European countries has the backlash against muslim immigrants who have made little to no effort to intergrate into western society.

    These countries tried multicultrism and it failed and in many of these countries the right has gained poltical power. Denmark and Holland have also made changes to there immigration policy in the last decade.

    The funny thing is alot of muslim country are much more intolerant when it comes to minorty groups but there is very little outrage. Yet countries like Canada, United States, Australia, New Zealand and Western European countries are held to much higher standard then anybody else. I wonder why that is.

  2. Suki says:

    If anybody ever get a chance to read the book Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, you will get a good understanding about whats going on in Europe.

  3. Suki says:

    What is happening in France is the same thing that is gonna happen in many other western European countries has the backlash against muslim immigrants who have made little to no effort to intergrate into western society.

    These countries tried multicultrism and it failed and in many of these countries the right has gained poltical power. Denmark and Holland have also made changes to there immigration policy in the last decade.

    The funny thing is alot of muslim country are much more intolerant when it comes to minorty groups but there is very little outrage. Yet countries like Canada, United States, Australia, New Zealand and Western European countries are held to much higher standard then anybody else. I wonder why that is.

  4. Suki says:

    If anybody ever get a chance to read the book Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, you will get a good understanding about whats going on in Europe.

  5. Kaptaan says:

    All,

    I don't see anything particularly wrong with the reasoning of the French. In fact, I'd argue that they should apply this decision retroactively to anyone granted admission to live in France or any country.

    People who immigrate and bring retrograde values with them to a country like France which is staunchly secular and supports human rights shouldn't expect anything less. There is a sakhi where a muslim women came to Guruji's Darbar with a face veil and was asked to remove it. The reason is that Sikhs believe face veils are what they are – a symbol of slavery. If people have been brainwashed into accepting and defending their slavery, it only goes to show the extent to which it is ingrained in the individual.

    If you talk to Sikh elders, they'll tell you that even during the time of the Mughals and today for that matter, some Sikhs were conditioned to accept 'Gulami', but that doesn't make it right. The niqab is the symbol of slavery of the woman to her male relatives.

    This has no bearing on the Dastaar which is openly worn by men and women.

  6. Kaptaan says:

    All,

    I don’t see anything particularly wrong with the reasoning of the French. In fact, I’d argue that they should apply this decision retroactively to anyone granted admission to live in France or any country.

    People who immigrate and bring retrograde values with them to a country like France which is staunchly secular and supports human rights shouldn’t expect anything less. There is a sakhi where a muslim women came to Guruji’s Darbar with a face veil and was asked to remove it. The reason is that Sikhs believe face veils are what they are – a symbol of slavery. If people have been brainwashed into accepting and defending their slavery, it only goes to show the extent to which it is ingrained in the individual.

    If you talk to Sikh elders, they’ll tell you that even during the time of the Mughals and today for that matter, some Sikhs were conditioned to accept ‘Gulami’, but that doesn’t make it right. The niqab is the symbol of slavery of the woman to her male relatives.

    This has no bearing on the Dastaar which is openly worn by men and women.

  7. sizzle says:

    kaptaan,

    i have 3 questions:

    1)do you pride yourself on being a contrarian? no? ok.

    2) do you pride yourself on being consistent? yes? ok.

    3) do you pride yourself on being consistently anti-muslim? yes? ok. that's pretty obvious.

    wWat? Not 3? Go back and read most of your posts. specifically, search for some level of consistency on principle. While I've empathized with your comments from time to time, really, is there any principle to which you abide, besides some sort of anti-muslim sentiment? No. I just checked. Not clear? Apply your above post to Sikhs. Wait wait wait – let me do that for you:

    [Sikhs] who immigrate and bring [old fashioned turban, kara, or little dull kirpan wearing] retrograde values with them to a country like France which is staunchly secular and supports human [freedom to be free from anyone religious] rights shouldn’t expect anything less. [brackets are my commentary that abide by France's public policy].

    My point is – it's pretty obvious you don't like muslims, and this dislike or mistrust skews your pespective on a few posts. But hey, whatever, I really couldn't care less. To be frank, I have my own biases. But if you're going to pipe in this site in the manner you do in the above post, at least make an effort to critically think through what you're spouting before you accuse others of being "brainwashed."

    adios.

  8. sizzle says:

    kaptaan,

    i have 3 questions:

    1)do you pride yourself on being a contrarian? no? ok.

    2) do you pride yourself on being consistent? yes? ok.

    3) do you pride yourself on being consistently anti-muslim? yes? ok. that’s pretty obvious.

    wWat? Not 3? Go back and read most of your posts. specifically, search for some level of consistency on principle. While I’ve empathized with your comments from time to time, really, is there any principle to which you abide, besides some sort of anti-muslim sentiment? No. I just checked. Not clear? Apply your above post to Sikhs. Wait wait wait – let me do that for you:

    [Sikhs] who immigrate and bring [old fashioned turban, kara, or little dull kirpan wearing] retrograde values with them to a country like France which is staunchly secular and supports human [freedom to be free from anyone religious] rights shouldnt expect anything less. [brackets are my commentary that abide by France’s public policy].

    My point is – it’s pretty obvious you don’t like muslims, and this dislike or mistrust skews your pespective on a few posts. But hey, whatever, I really couldn’t care less. To be frank, I have my own biases. But if you’re going to pipe in this site in the manner you do in the above post, at least make an effort to critically think through what you’re spouting before you accuse others of being “brainwashed.”

    adios.

  9. kaptaan says:

    Hi Sizzle,

    I just read your reply to my comment. I find it disturbing that you would deign to compare the dastaar, kara, or kirpan with the niqab or hijab. Like Jodha before, you are engaging in relativism.

    The dastaar, kara and kirpan and other Sikh symbols are affirming of equality-freedom, a belief in God, and the duty to protect those less able, while as I mentioned in my comments the niqab/ hijab/ jilbab/ xxxab are all symbols of anti-freedom, anti-equality and pro-slavery.

    You may believe I am anti-muslim (which is patently false) if you like. However, the fact is that certain aspects of Islam, Mohammad's life/ actions/ orders/ beliefs and Islamic cultural values and norms are antithetical to the values and teachings espoused by Sikhs and as a result I won`t compromise my opposition to such things or equivocate over those practices.

    You may believe in relativism, equivocation, and appeasement, I do not.

    By the way, the French have every right to govern how their society operates. It is in fact their country and ethnic homeland. If anyone doesn`t like it, they should leave.

    thank you,

    Kaptaan

  10. kaptaan says:

    Hi Sizzle,

    I just read your reply to my comment. I find it disturbing that you would deign to compare the dastaar, kara, or kirpan with the niqab or hijab. Like Jodha before, you are engaging in relativism.

    The dastaar, kara and kirpan and other Sikh symbols are affirming of equality-freedom, a belief in God, and the duty to protect those less able, while as I mentioned in my comments the niqab/ hijab/ jilbab/ xxxab are all symbols of anti-freedom, anti-equality and pro-slavery.

    You may believe I am anti-muslim (which is patently false) if you like. However, the fact is that certain aspects of Islam, Mohammad’s life/ actions/ orders/ beliefs and Islamic cultural values and norms are antithetical to the values and teachings espoused by Sikhs and as a result I won`t compromise my opposition to such things or equivocate over those practices.

    You may believe in relativism, equivocation, and appeasement, I do not.

    By the way, the French have every right to govern how their society operates. It is in fact their country and ethnic homeland. If anyone doesn`t like it, they should leave.

    thank you,
    Kaptaan

  11. Mewa Singh says:

    [deleted]

  12. Mewa Singh says:

    [deleted]

  13. kaptaan says:

    [deleted]

    [Boys go ahead and meet next to the bike rack after school, but leave it out of The Langar Hall. It adds nothing to the conversation…. Admin Singh]

  14. kaptaan says:

    [deleted]

    [Boys go ahead and meet next to the bike rack after school, but leave it out of The Langar Hall. It adds nothing to the conversation…. Admin Singh]

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