Monday, February 1, 2010

The Virgin Mary Loves Burqas

And now, the latest in silly debates, brought to you courtesy of France. France recently took a bold step that our politically-correct powers-that-be are only just having to deal with. The French authorities banned the wearing of the burqa, chador, or any other Islamic garb which covers a female's face so as to make it invisible to others or which indicates a "hostile or belligerent" attitude toward secular government or other religions.

Here in the good old USA, we are only now having to come to terms with the genuine dichotomy between freedom and security which the burqa et al aggravate. RealID acts require a photo ID, and a burqa could (and has) obscured the face of many beautiful women, not to mention the beautiful faces of several male terrorists as they tried to skitter away from our military before being captured. Several states have already denied driver's licenses to women who refuse to remove the facial covering, flying in the face of federal touchy-feely guidelines. Who's driving that car--the Phantom? It has long been a rule that masks (and these items are most certainly masks) are forbidden to be worn in public except for "celebratory purposes" such as Halloween, and still must be removed at the lawful request of a peace officer.

So--what's the debate in France? Well, a major well-publicized figure who supports the wearing of the Burqa has announced that the Blessed Mother Mary would disapprove of banning of the strict Islamic garb. As a Lutheran, I very much revere the Virgin Mary, but I had to speak to my devout Catholic friends to see if this sounded as bogus to them as it did to me. After all, we rejected the Marian Doctrine about six hundred years ago, so I'm no expert.

On BBC (perhaps French TV wasn't entirely safe), Chrystelle Khedrouche, who is a 36 year-old French convert to Islam declared: "When God (Allah?) ordered that women be veiled we know that they were already veiled. Look at the mother of Jesus, Mary, she wore a veil and I have never seen an image of her where she is not veiled (uh, see accompanying image). So we know that women were veiled at that time, and if God ordered that women be veiled, it was to add something more to what there was already." I don't get the last part, but why quibble?

My best understanding of both the Bible and the Koran tells me that both books tell women to be "modest." Some reasonable interpretations of Islam which I have seen over the years, suggest that a veil would be a good way to preserve that modesty, but the Islamic scholars I've read unanimously agree that the Koran itself does not say that women must cover their entire heads and faces save only for a slit to keep from running into lamp-posts or falling into sewers.

As one wag has said [seriously] in jest, "Since Muslims also believe that Mary is the sister of Aaron and entirely confused about the body-double who replaced her Son on the cross, perhaps Chrystelle is now re-inventing Mary as an ardent supporter of Shari'a as well." Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how do your veils grow?

Khedrouche says "I'm not so surprised because the French like the idea of everyone being of the same mould and that mould must be ideal. Everything that is not part of their French ideal model doesn't suit them." OK, I'll drink to that, but how did the Virgin Mary get involved in French haute couture? Even French Catholics are known for being somewhat "loose" in their definition of modesty, so I don't see them as the well source that brought on this sudden and horrific attack on Muslim fashion. Furthermore, the French are about as irreligious as any people in Europe, making the Germans and Italians look like regular church-goers.

Her ire is not just aimed at the French infidels, though. Mary apparently doesn't much like Muslim women who merely cover their heads and still dare to show their hair or opt to show their full heads and wear no veil at all. Mary wouldn't like that because "that is not part of our religion. I find it very difficult becuse we know that the wives of the prophet were dressed like this (demonstrating her eyes and not much more), they were fully covered." Does that mean that Mary was one of the prophet's wives? If so, she must have been getting up there in years.

Now I gotta say that as a Protestant Christian I find this all a little hinky and a lot offensive. For those of you who are doing your Rosary while reading this article, I assume it is the same, only more so. Right? But if this debate is going on over French dress prohibitions, can Gary, Indiana be far behind? This is going to get messy, ladies and gentlemen, so I strongly recommend we all take a deep breath, consider the humility, forbearance and suffering of the Virgin Mary, and fight like crusaders to keep cuckoos like Khedrouche from determining what our respective religions and denominations say and believe, and by extension, what they will convince the legions of the politically-correct in the government to believe.


USArtguy said...

Lawhawk, I want to take the opportunity of your Gary reference to reproduce an e-mail I sent a buddy in May 2008.

While it doesn't refer to veils, my point in bringing it up is that this kind of stuff is trying to get a foothold here in the US already and we had better become aware and be vigilant. It was a revelation for me. (The links still work).


I was reading this article:

Islamic Divorce Ruled Not Valid in Maryland

and was casually thinking 'hooray for our side, some US "justices" actually standing up for American law'.

Then I got to the end of the article and read

"...said Muneer Fareed, secretary general of the Islamic Society of North America in Plainfield, Ind. "

Holy Crap! INDIANA? INDIANA? Yipes! I'd expect NY or CA, but INDIANA?

So I googled them and found their site

On the surface they seem all Rodney-King-can't-we-all-just-get-along warm and fuzzy. But when you read the articles closely, they aren't really that way at all.

Of course, I expect them to be pro them. It's their website. But the few articles I skimmed, all had an underlying current of "everybody else is wrong" period.

And the banner ad at the bottom blows me "Home Ownership the 'Sharia' Way" (!)
Go to THAT website and see how many states this Sharia Law company is in. Egad!

AndrewPrice said...

One clarification -- France banned the burqa in public schools and government buildings, but are only now trying to ban it in all public places. (They in fact banned the display of all overt religious symbols in schools.)

With our freedom of religion, I don't see that we could, should or would do anything similar. However, religion does need to give way to certain other laws -- that's been clear for decades in this country. The requirement to show your face for drivers license is just one of those. Other rules that religions have run into include child abuse, violations of animal cruelty, bigamy, and drug laws.

Unknown said...

USArtGuy: It's insidious, and it's spreading. Accommodation to any rule of law that contradicts the law by which American citizens live has always been disallowed in America. Now, well, it's gaining a foothold. Sharia/Islamic finance is a private matter until federally-insured funds are involved, but they're working on finding ways around that.

These little enclaves are working themselves into small communities all over the U.S. and claiming to be peaceful, law-abiding and similar to many of the inoffensive Christian cults which have shown up from time-to-time. Under the surface, they're almost invariably militant outgrowths of the madrassas and the Nation of Islam (a cult within Islam).

Unknown said...

Andrew: That's absolutely correct, and the extension to all public places in France is what got the debate rekindled. Thanks for the clarification.

My question is, "did you consult the Virgin Mary before proceeding with the rest of your discussion?"

The issue in America obviously bumps up against our First Amendment, and we can't do as many things by legislative fiat as they can in other countries (declaring Scientology to be a cult unworthy of religious protection, for example). Whether we could or should ban burgas in public places is a bit dicier than requiring the showing of the face for drivers licenses. I suspect it's going to end up in the arena of freedom of religion versus security. There is the strong element of religious freedom, but there is also the very strong reasoning behind the need for "masking" laws for public safety. Unlike France, we face both political and constitutional issues, which won't be easily resolved. I guess that's why God created lawyers (or was that the other guy?).

Tennessee Jed said...

Andrew - your comment lays out exactly where I come from on this issue. Although I may now live so far back in the hills that even the Episcopalians handle vipers, even I know security trumps religion. Just as we would not permit a religion to conduct human sacrafice, we need to have all pictures eligible for photo identification documents to ban the bhurka.

I do like Rhone wines, but dang, those Frogs . . .

Writer X said...

Perhaps if people didn't hide bombs under the burqas, it wouldn't be such a big issue. I believe there was another successful woman bomber today in Iraq.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, I consulted my keyboard only and it seemed to approve.

AndrewPrice said...

Writer X, That can't be -- we're told that Iraq is now safe and prosperous, now that Obama has fixed all the problems. ;-)

Unknown said...

Tennessee: Dear Lord, I didn't know that any place could be that remote!

Andrew will, I'm sure, insert his own views here, but my opinion is that "masking laws" can survive a constitutional test, if carefully drafted. Driving is a privilege, so that one's not too tough. If you don't want to unmask, don't drive. For public areas, it's not quite so clear, since everyone has to be allowed access. In these dangerous times, I can conceive of burqa-wearing in public places (maybe limited to public gatherings, rather than merely on the street) being similar to other restrictions such as metal-detectors. If you want to come into the hall, you'll have to uncover your face so we can see who you are in the interests of public safety.

It won't be easy, A long line of cases limit certain religious observances (which others have mentioned here), and the cases say that the laws cannot involve "excessive interference" into purely religious matters. However, when the vast majority of Islamic scholars cannot agree on "full covering," the courts might be allowed to look into how deep the religious history goes into the matter of "covering," then relate it to the compelling state interest in protecting the public safety.

Unknown said...

WriterX: There was, and the results were horrendous.

Unknown said...

Andrew: I have a different situation. When viewed at sunup and sundown, my keyboard takes on the image of the Virgin Mary, and my fingers seem to have a will of their own.

The attack in Iraq resulted in dozens of deaths. I'm not sure if that relates directly to the "covering" issue, since the burqa disguises a great deal more than the face. It is designed to make a woman totally shapeless in public, leaving plenty of room for explosives. That's an even more difficult security problem than just covering the face.

HamiltonsGhost said...

Lawhawk--How about a full body-search and scan for all Burqa ladies entering any public forum? That should slow them down. And it would still be the first gentle handling of their bodies that most of them have ever had.

Unknown said...

HamiltonsGhost: I'm not sure you could single Burga ladies out for special treatment, but as long as they don't search Mary, I'm OK with it.

BevfromNYC said...

Oh, those wacky Frenchmen. Next they'll try to enact language purity laws. Oh, wait they did already.

Guiliani used NYC's "masking law" to prevent the KKK from marching in Manhattan with hoods on! I thought that was a pretty clever use of the law. He couldn't stop them from marching, so he got creative. Instead of having 200 white hooded and sheeted Klan members polluting our streets, we had 12 Klanners who were way outnumbered.

StanH said...

Lawhawk I chuckled at the mental image of burqa clad women bumping into lamppost and falling into to sewers, it had a Buster Keaton feel to it...LOL!

“Inch by inch, everything’s a synch.” I can’t wear a mask to get my drivers license, neither can they. If they want to live in the seventh century, get the hell out of America.

Notawonk said...

i never say a rosary and read political commentary at the same time for fear of hanging myself! the french, oy the french. they make tasty wine and mmm, the bread is good. that's all.

(not particularly clever or insightful today as we have a new addition to the family. puppy-without-a-name is 11 weeks old and in need of copious supervision)

Unknown said...

StanH: It does have a ring of Buster Keaton to it, doesn't it? I also keep thinking of that old TV shaving-cream ad: "Who's that behind the sandpaper mask?"

And isn't it odd how "progressive ideas" also seem to hark back to the seventh century as well?

Unknown said...

Patti: I also make sure that I have the Bible out-of-sight when I write these articles. There's a lot of taking the Lord's name in vain going on, even though I do my best not to transmit it to the written page.

Congratulations on your puppy. My assistant Kitty Kelly wouldn't tolerate it, and my lease says I can't have dogs, period. Have to settle for a cat and a dead parrot.

rlaWTX said...

a dead parrot??

the cat I understand...

Individualist said...


Here in America we should treat this issue with the same spirit of reconciliation and innovation that is the cornerstone of American ingenuity. They want to wear burkas, we want to see if they are carrying illegal explosives. The answer the transparent burka. Problem solved.

Hey even the French might buy into this idea! It's avant garde!

USArtguy said...


there's an interesting article today about Shariah-Law finance over at the Big Government site.

It seems federal money, ala TARP, has found its way, via the federal take over of AIG as" the largest the world’s leading promoter of Shariah-compliant finance products and businesses."

It's taking a little while for this to percolate into my art-brain. I'm interested what your (or Andrew's) opinion is.

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