French Type of "Love or Leave It": Headscarf Ban in Europe


Contribution of Özgür Der, Turkey, to Assisi 04

Headscarf controversy is on the Europe`s agenda. After French government´s decision it would not be a surprise to see some other European countries following the way France opened.

A similar argument is already going on in Germany for a long time. Despite in Germany there is no such a ban effort occurred among students like France, it is known that after Afghan origin teacher Fereshta Ludin verdict, deep concerns raised among Muslims living in this country. In some provinces, Muslim officers who wear headscarves faced to lose their work. It is very clear that for Muslim women who are get used to be in a measure to face with social-cultural obstructions, after that facing with legal handicaps too is a very bad thing. And the concerns about mentality of ban would not stop here and would try to spread this ban to every social area is a great concern also. Again there is news about Muslim woman working at private sector, have problems with their employers only because of their headscarves and these conflicts are being put to trials densely. This news also cause concerns among Muslim minorities in Europe.

But why headscarf sits on the agenda of Europe today? How it happened so that with Turkish conservatives saying with an ignorant defense instinct- what an ugly saying it is "a gland of two meters" became "nearby threat" to the modern imperialist system? Why even imperialist power centers afraid of this "gland of two meters" and try to ban it?

Which Mentality This Ban is Originated from?

The problem stems mostly from the Western mentality which externalizes "the other", assuming it as nonexistent. The neo-racist ideology is nourishing from this mentality and targeting Muslims as "the other". The West, despite all claims of pluralism, respect to differences, democracy and human rights, concepts pronunciations still couldn´t tolerate and endure to the one he could not be able to likened to himself, to he couldn`t be able to transformed into him and assimilated. As almost the legitimating ground of the colonialist mentality, the mission of carrying the civilization is still living with different forms and methods, shows itself in different ways as arising from the western subconscious. Especially when it comes to Islam this subconscious racism come out so easily. This is because Islam is in historical process represents an understanding of the contrast with Western and also because of the lived conflicts with the West so it came to a position of "the other" for the West. When we turn today, the "rescue" and "being improved and civilized" mission of Muslims, from Islam that represents the primitiveness in the western mind, is seen right and necessary whether by force. By this point headscarf ban is a kind of surviving practice of the colonialist mission with new methods.

The issue of Muslims in Europe or particularly the headscarf problem at the basic core directly connected with the problem of refugees which has deep and strong roots. Growth of the Muslims population in Europe has always been a disturbing issue for the owners of European statuesque in all ways. The surpass mentality who aimed on the creation of a homogeneous European identity reacts because the Muslim population is growing continually in great measure with the refugees and with also people getting Muslim from Europeans. They also react because this population is in great measure closed to a cultural integration and assimilation because of their different social-cultural codes and identity. With this aspect being the enemy of the headscarf is an issue of being enemy of "the other" and it is also an indicator of racism.

In most European countries Muslims leave at poor suburbs and outskirts of the cities with an accentuation on their religious, cultural, ethnic state of belongings. Despite ordinary Europeans don`t like much of this scene that creates for a degree a ghetto appearance, no such a very disturbing position appears. The ghetto borders were the endurance and tolerance borders at the same time. But when the borders get climbed over and Muslim identified minorities carries their Islamic identified appearances, the alarm bells starts to ring. So because of this racist subconscious, for example when a clean woman wears it, it seem so comprehensible and normal, but when a teacher, a prestigious firms officer or a public worker wears the Islamic headscarf she is never tolerated. In brief the issue is in headscarf particular is an issue of bother result from the Islamic identities climbing over the ghetto borders. With this aspect headscarf ban is a typical class struggle.

As all this mental and social background full of racism banded together with the fear and anxiety atmosphere that had been spreading intentionally against Muslims till 9/11; it has been resulted with unjust and clear oppressive outcomes. The fear and hostility atmosphere intentionally widespread brought together the reactions in the basis of security and the individual and the social freedom space have been restricted extremely. In this point headscarf struggle is the position struggle for the defense the social and individual freedoms. Headscarf ban shows us the security addicted mentality`s `taking precaution to the potential threats` and `cutting its way before it grows` logic how can gone mad!

The gift of USA President George Bush`s after 9/11 to the politics; the concept of "preemptive war" is being practicing almost by all countries in their conditions. France is doing with law and bans what USA has been doing with missiles and with occupation armies in the name of to impede the threat, to supply the security and like this justification. These two are not different attitudes, they are both the same in the basics, and they are both the children of the same crooked mentality and the reflections of the same colonialist mind. There is no difference between American imperialism`s present of its occupation and massacre policies as the means of bringing democracy to Middle East mission and with the France states closing the doors to the Muslim girls in the name of educating free and modern individuals. They are different in shape but they are very same at the main and in guiding mentality.

A Homogeneous Europe?

It is clear that all the European countries are common in the sense of acting generally negative to the muslins; they are acting with hostility or contradictory feelings, at least feed some prejudices. But despite this background of course it can not be said that all the European countries are treating in the same way and homogeneously in this issue, as they treat and think different on very much social-political issue. For example as France, where the state and the religion have a deep-rooted quarrel acts in a rigid and extreme position, things are a little bit different in some European countries like Holland, Austria and Belgium where Islam is officially recognized as a religion. They are more tolerant to Muslim minorities in comparison. But where Muslim population is growing with refugees and as a state emphasizes his Christian identity in his constitution in Germany we see signs of being intolerance towards their Muslim minority on recent years and it grow.

What are the Claims of the Headscarf Forbidders?

-Headscarf Is A Fundamentalist Symbol!

Most the claims of the defenders of the headscarf ban in Europe are the same as the other forbidders around the world and in the history. We know most of these claims from our Turkish forbidders. The most common claim is that headscarf is a symbol of fundamentalism and it is a political struggle means. Actually this claim is politic in-self, as refusing to see that the headscarf and covering is a clear order of Islam as a religion and refusing to accept the reality that it is a well-common practice of muslins throughout the world and the history. It is so clear that the "headscarf ban" is a politic act, a symbol of a political attitude; it is a more political adopted act clearly than the self of the headscarf. More of this the defenders of this claim consider the self-right of determining what is religious and what is not. This is despotism and a real impertinence in the real meaning of the word.

Beside this, even when we presume headscarf as a "symbol" what this manner is making this symbol issue as a great problem? West is in a position of being proud of widening the freedom area in favor of individuals to wherever it goes and proud of limiting area of the public authority and also they are propaganda and sometimes insisting this on third world countries. And at the same time they encourage the political participation on each level. But at the same time the same West is darkening out some of its citizens lives because of symbol fears-anxieties! Because secularism must be protected! What kind of blindness is this!

Remember the words of Chirac about "defending the republic"! Against who? This hysteria points out a poor, strange and more over funny behavior. A little minority in the great population of 60 million populated France and in this minority even as a more little minority; And a France with 60 million citizens afraid of these girls! A president talks about defending the republic against these girls! Even discuss of this claim is meaningless in self because the state of paranoia is not in the research area of the politics; it is in the area of psychiatry.

- Wearing Headscarf is Contradictory with Necessity for Being Neutral and Impartial!

Another justification claim of the ban is "being impartial and being neutral principle". Actually we hear so much this among Turkish forbidders as well as among French types. The basic error of this claim which is especially put to the agenda against the public workers is the presumption that there can be a neutral area connected with the social life and related with the individuals. And they do not contented with this and presume that not wearing headscarf is a condition of being neutral and impartial. But why and how can, not wearing headscarf be an indicator of being neutral and how can wearing headscarf means taking side? How could it be reached to a result, with which criteria and on which basis?

One of the most popular claim of the people who saw the headscarf as a taking side behavior, as a direction or means of insist; is the claim that a teacher with wearing headscarf will effect as inclining mean, on the students inevitably. But isn`t this "danger" is a fact on the opposite side too? Why it is understandable of someone`s worries about their children might be influenced by teachers who wears headscarf but it is meaningless and even don`t being imagined for the others who might don`t want their children to be influenced by the teachers who don`t wear headscarves? The same narrow thought is being seen in Turkey among the impossibility to accept a judge or an attorney general who wears headscarf. They say that a Muslim woman judge with headscarf may take positive attitude at the beginning on the case of a man who is atheist or not pious or has got a different belief than the judge and only because of this the woman judge can not be able to judge with impartiality. Ok, what about a judge who doesn´t wears headscarf? There is no answer of why a defendant or a plaintiff woman who wears headscarf should trust to a judge who doesn´t wear headscarf without any hesitate! This claim is also in the grave of polemics and carries no justification for the ban.

- Women are not Wearing Headscarf with Their Free Will; there is Pressure for This on Them!

This assertion is one of the most funny claims that the headscarf forbidders put forward; they say woman and girls who wear headscarf are being wore these by force from their families, not with their free will. As a claim it is arguable and probably there can be shown so many examples of this but the funniest side of this thesis are in its solution: They are covering their body by force, so uncover them by force!

Ok, what about the women who wear headscarf by their free will, who will care of who already chosen the way of Islamic life style? And of course what are the evidence that the choosing and the decision of the governments for a girl are more legal, lawful and favorable then the parents of this child? In last saying, an approach which accepts the government authority as infinite and see the state is authorized for "educating whoever he can reach, even with force" formula is deserves to be approached as a despotism act memorial.

- Headscarf is a Drawback for the Integration!

The strongest reason of the discomfort about the Islamic headscarf in Europe is that the headscarf obstructs the integration; it delays the effectiveness of the integration process and the integration policies. Headscarf as a reflection of the Islamic identity is being assumed as taking position out of the hegemonic Western life style, culture and social life. Here, the point attacking attention again is the efforts of capitalist western mind to assimilate into its monopolized frame all the others identified with different cultures and state of belongings. With this side the truth is not the integration only, it is directly an assimilation policy! Multi-culturalism and similar pronunciations includes respect to the differences as long as they stay in the folkloric level; but when it is asked for these differences to be carried on as a different life style and sight of world, they will be externalized and tried to suppress. However it is very clear that the method used in the name of improving the integration; it means closing so many social areas to the woman who wears headscarf will result with the push out of Muslim society from the social area, the externalize and to the disintegration.

It has been seen that the mentality of externalize which is being put forward with speeches like "Here is Europe!" is spreading especially among the common people. This is the French translation of well-known "Love or Leave" fascistic mentality! However this kind of an insist will deny the pronunciation of human rights and freedoms, especially when it is being told that Europe is constructed on these virtues. It is not for human honor to be cornered to accept and love the bad, the not wanted, the inhumane, and the insistence or to leave out! The human must be free for choosing the most fit to her free will among infinite alternatives and she wouldn´t be pushed and insisted to a double identified life, to a collapse of her personality.

It is known that the racist movement hostile to the foreigners has been growing in Europe since end of the 80´s. The racists are using the problems caused by the economic stagnation, especially the unemployment problem among the ordinary Europeans and also the rise of the refugees for putting their racist theories to the agenda. Especially rightist politicians are trying to practice these racist policies with softening and making up them for a measure. It is not a mistake to see the ban of the headscarf as an appearing of this politic tendency. For example there is clear evidences that what Chirac is trying to do with this the headscarf ban is the effort to channel the polls which will gone to the fascists in the coming elections. Consequently the "Love or Leave" slogan is coming on the agenda! The rightist governments are trying to practice the fascist desires which racist opposition parties are pronouncing freely. Racist are on the opposition but their policies are on the government.

We Must Not Yield Towards the Racist Oppression Policies

Muslims must put it on clear that they are not willing to neither to leave, nor to submit these racist policies! Muslims communities are living in the statue of minority in Europe and they didn`t choose such a life. Most of them came because of the situations in their countries that are created by imperialist indirect colonialism and some of them are invited as cheap labour force. This is not a touristic trip for millions of labour as some supposed. So they are not invaders as racists claimed, they are labour of Europe and they are permanent. Moreover the immigration is going on with waves. The inequality caused by the global capitalist hegemony is not only transforms the Islamic geography to a ball of problems as well as the whole third world and the south hemisphere also. Thus the only way remains for surviving for the whole population of the south hemisphere is immigrating to the north hemisphere. Consequently there is no right of western capitalist hegemony after all to say to the Muslim labour "you are useful for us no more, so you are not welcome any more; if you are not admit our life style so turn back to where have you come". What about if they don`t accept to turn back? New Auschwitz´s to eliminate these wanted no more people? This is how a racist mentality works.

And in the same context there is no use of making public surveys and similar public opinion measures to see if the majority have approval to the headscarf. A human has the right to live as he believes and he has right to protect his identity, this is the most basic human right. And it is so clear that human rights have no need of public opinions acceptance.

In France or somewhere else the majority´s acceptance of the ban of the headscarf may be meaningful for the politicians fishing polls but these are tendencies mean nothing for human rights and the state of law. All the muslins and opposite people to this capitalist exploitation system must struggle jointly to expel this headscarf ban, because today headscarf ban is the last barricade against the neo-racism in Europe. If we lose this barricade the rest might be much more awful not only for the refugees and for also the whole Europeans. It is very understandable and normal for the European common opinion to be against Islam and the Islamic headscarf because of the continuing propaganda against Islam and moreover the historic basis of a culture constructed negative even hostile to Islam and muslins. Today also neo-fascists use the slogan of "new crusaders against Islam". This shows the new face of neo-Fascism is Islam phobia. For an example think what kind of a result we had if we have done a poll in Nazi Germany about what the great majority of the public opinion thinks about Jews? As it was not important what the Germans thought about the Jews and this can not determine the human rights of Jews, today the putting forward the public opinions as the justification for the headscarf ban can not be accepted.

Consequently there are clear evidences of coming hard days for Muslims living in Europe. It is not clear how the process will shape and what will bring. But it is very clear that it is impossible to stand against this racist Islam phobic campaign with an attitude full of inability, unconcernedly and numbness. The solution is hidden in a joined struggle full of decisiveness against this oppression, together with all honourable people. Who knows may be the process will open the way of to be shaken and claim of their identity and their problems for the most of the minorities, whom they are currently on the way of assimilation and degeneration of capitalist culture imperialism. In this point Muslims duty is to embrace their Islamic identity, to their belief, virtues and keeping a strong struggle line in this way. Not always the winners are the resistance side but this is the reality of the history that the only way to be free is resistance and THE RESISTANCE WILL MAKE FREE!

Ridvan Kaya