Although quickly subdued, a small riot in France brought national attention to France’s 16-month old ban on veils. A 19-year-old veiled woman and three males were taken into custody after the melee and quickly released by a magistrate concerned by the angry crowd that had gathered. The three will be asked to return in a month whereupon they will face charges and most probably be fined for the infraction.
For most Muslims in France, the veil ban has been met with acceptance, even if somewhat reluctantly. The more tradition-minded and militant Muslims remain angry about it, seeing it as an assault on their Muslim identity and religious freedom. This clash between the Muslim world and the Western world is growing in France because of its Muslim population, the largest in Europe.
The reality of terrorism perpetrated by militant Muslims makes the ban on veils a security issue, especially in Muslim-concentrated neighborhoods. It is much too easy for a militant to hide behind a veil, blending perfectly into a peaceful Muslim neighborhood while planning and carrying out violent acts with impunity. Danger to the common good always demands that preventive measures be taken and this is no exception.
Although freedom of religious expression is important and certainly should be respected, it cannot be allowed to dictate or override laws, be forced upon others, or be an endangerment in a free society. A past attempt to allow Muslim women to wear veils when taking pictures for driver’s licenses clearly illustrated how far some try to push the envelope of religious tolerance. There are limits and they must be enforced.
This will not be the last riot France will experience caused by the clash of cultures. Liberal immigration policies, political correctness, and diversity-driven fear of offending have emboldened many immigrants’ attempts to follow their own rules rather than assimilate. Until this is dealt with in a reasonable manner, clashes such as this will continue.
David J. Hentosh