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In March 2011, the French government issued a policy statement regarding the wearing of the burka by Muslim women. In part, it stated that covering one’s face is equivalent to infringing on “the minimum requirements of life in society”. A few weeks later, a bill that had been passed by the French parliament in 2010 became law. Among other things, it banned the concealing of one’s face and wearing of any face masks in public spaces. French (mostly male) politicians claimed it was mainly a feminist stance that was aimed at avoiding the subjugation of women in a nation that valued civil liberties. Being a devout Mulsim woman, it appeared, was only acceptable if you adhered to the state’s understanding of what a Muslim woman should dress up like. Anything else was not a civil liberty in this free and democratic country.

Because according to the country’s top anti-discrimination body, “The burqa carries the meaning of the submission of women which goes beyond its religious scope and could be considered as undermining republican values presiding over the process of integration and organisation of these lessons.”

In case you are wondering if this is the same country that colonised most of West/North Africa, where Islam and the wearing of the burka are commonplace, and proceeded to impose its ‘republican values’ there in form of a colonial tax and pegging everything there from the economies to education to French systems, yes it is.

France recognises and celebrates diversity and feminism. But you cannot be a feminist and decide to wear a burka. Not in France anyway.

Because the Republic, dominated by white male politicians, is the ultimate authority on both feminism and Islam.

Fast forward to Museveni’s twenietwenie, France made it mandatory on May 10th to wear masks in public spaces.

Burkas are still not allowed.

They (burkas) are an affront to women’s dignity, their civil liberties and the French republic’s values.

Masks, of course, are not. They are a public health and safety measure.

It is totally legal and acceptable to wear a headscarf.

Nuns can wear their veils with absolutely no problem.

Both nuns and women wearing headscarfs are now required by law to wear face masks.

But wearing the Burka remains illegal.

Long live the Fifth French Republic.

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Written by Ganzi Isharaza (1)

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