Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Where Hot Pants and the Niqab Meet: French Niqabitches


France has a long history of xenophobia and its most recent manifestation is the banning of the burqa under the guise that it is anti-French.  The burqa is supposedly anti-French, but apparently all of those years spent colonizing bodies of colour is supposedly not problematic.  The burqa is a complicated garment because even as it is used for the purposes of oppression for some women it represent liberation.   This new policy is not only Islamophobic it is anti-woman.  The state telling a woman that she cannot wear a garment is little different than a husband or a community forcing a woman into one.  True liberation is supporting the right of women to choose.
Calling themselves the "Niqabitches," the veiled ladies can be seen strutting past prime ministerial offices and various government ministries with a black veil leaving only their eyes visible, but with their long legs naked bar black high heels. 
Bemused passers-by can be seen gawping at the pair or asking to take photographs in the clip.
At one stage in the film, the two women approach the entrance to the ministry of immigration and national identity, only to be told by a policeman to go elsewhere. However, a policewoman also present is delighted by their clothes. “I love your outfit, is it to do with the new law?” she asks. “Yes, we want to de-dramatise the situation,” one girl replies. “It’s brilliant. Can I take a photo?” asks the policewoman, who will soon be required to fine public niqab wearers. 

In an opinion piece published on the news website, rue89, the anonymous duo – political science and communication students in their twenties – said the film was a tongue-in-cheek way of criticising France's niqab ban, which the Senate passed last month and is due to go into force early next year. 

"To put a simple burka on would have been too simple. So we asked ourselves: 'how would the authorities react when faced with women wearing a burka and mini-shorts?," asked the students, one of whom is a Muslim. 

"We were not looking to attack or degrade the image of Muslim fundamentalists – each to their own – but rather to question politicians who voted for this law that we consider clearly unconstitutional," they said.
"To dictate what we wear appears to have become the role of the State (as if they didn't have other fish to fry ...)." (source)


I understand the purpose of this guerrilla protest but something about it does not feel right.  At this time I don't have the words to articulate what makes me feel uncomfortable and so I am throwing it out to you for your thoughts.  How does this protest make you feel?

H/T Culture Kitchen

Editors Note:  Muslimah Media Watch has a great round table on this video. Check it out here