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John Passant

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June 2009



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Ban Sarkozy, not the burqa

French President Nicolas Sarkozy wants to ban women wearing the burqa in France.

This is a racist attack by the State on Muslim women and will only embolden reactionaries to physically abuse them.

It is designed to divert attention away from the Great Recession, a recession the World Bank now says will worsen more than predicted (sound familiar?) in the coming months.

Sarkozy will massively cut social spending, jobs and living standards, as he is already trying to do.

As a smokescreen, he is attacking Muslim women in the name of liberating them.  This would be a sick joke if it weren’t serious.

Many on the French Left will unfortunately support this move in the mistaken belief that it reinforces secularism.  If this is secularism I want no part of it.

But of course it is not about secularism, or releasing women from  the prison of the burqa.  It is the exact opposite.

It is about imprisoning women in Sarkozy’s stereotype of liberation, a liberation into wage slavery and oppression under capitalism for women.

It is about scapegoating, creating the conditions for renewed attacks on blacks, muslims and jews in France.

Sarkozy’s hope is that working people will move away from industrial action against his policies (especially as his attacks become more brutal) to blaming minorities for their problems, problems like underfunded schools and hospitals, rising unemployment and falling living standards.

The mood among some sections of the French working class is combative as 3 general strikes recently show.

 Sarkozy fears the working class spark that could destroy him and his regime.  The ‘other’ distracts attention from the class struggle.

Sarkozy’s proposed ban on the burqa is ‘liberation’ from above, and as Iraq and Afghanistan show, that is never successful. Sarkozy is the Bush of the burqa.

Women’s liberation can only come about through struggle.  That struggle, within the confines of capitalism, cannot defeat the systemic drivers for oppression.  It can at best only lessen the effects of oppression.  

Carla Bruni is oppressed (although she benefits as a ruling class women from the exploitation of working women).  Her stereotypical ‘beauty’ and career as a model show she is as imprisoned by the system as are her sisters in their burqas.

Only a fully fledged revolution which overturns the very system that creates oppression can in the end defeat that oppression. Any such struggle will involve the women workers of France – white, black, Christian, Jew, Muslim – against Sarkozy, not with him.



Comment from PETER PIPER
Time June 25, 2009 at 1:40 pm

what a pile of bollocks. Women shouldnt be forced to wear a sack over their head. They even do it to little girls. ban it now. Well done France

Comment from Get real
Time June 25, 2009 at 11:17 pm

It should have been banned ages ago.
Those who wish to continue this primitive custom should relocate to primitive countries.
In Rome ….
Well done Sarkozy.

Comment from YM
Time June 27, 2009 at 4:47 am

What do you think will happen to those women whose husbands have enough power to force them to wear the burqa?

Simple: They will not be allowed to leave the house.

The ones who wear it by choice will be unhappy about this.

In short, this is a completely counterproductive, bigoted, populist proposal.

Comment from JS
Time June 27, 2009 at 9:58 pm

Leonie, stop trying to insidiously place religion under the same bracket as race. Hate it break it to you but religion is not a race – you cannot be an ethnic muslim – there are white muslims, black, asian etc etc, you cannot be racist towards someone on the basis on their religion.

Comment from Leonie
Time June 27, 2009 at 10:50 pm

Thanks JS for the Daniel Pipes argument. Hmm, you could say the same thing about anti-semitism too, but I would think anti-semitism is racism on the basis it is a reaction against the ‘other’ for their supposed difference. And your specious argument ignores the fact that most Muslims in France are either from, or the descendants of, people from its former colonies in North Africa. That looks like racism to me.

Pingback from En Passant » Burqas, unAustralian activity and authoritarianism
Time June 27, 2009 at 11:42 pm

[…] don’t have space to address this more deeply but my article Ban Sarkozy, not the burqa, gives a fuller […]

Comment from JS
Time June 28, 2009 at 4:24 pm

Their reaction agains the ‘other’? we’re not discussing colonialism or post-colonial theory. Racism is related to a very specific thing – RACE. Anyone can be a muslim. Oh, and anti-semitism is directed at people who are ethnically jewish – didnt you hear all the nazi rubbish about how they wanted to wipe the “breed” out?

Comment from John
Time June 28, 2009 at 8:48 pm

Racism has never been just about race.

The horror of the racist project in Nazi Germany now sees dawn upon us the racism of culture. All the old racist stereotypes find a new bottle in islamophobia.

I’d suggest you read for example S Sayyid on racism and islamophobia in dark matter. See

Islamophobia is the new and almost acceptable racism – the racism without racists as Sayyid so eloquently and sarcastically puts it.

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