By Elizabeth Tenety
The Washington Post’s Edward Cody reported Tuesday that the French parliament’s lower house voted 335-1 to ban its female citizens from wearing the burqa or similar Islamic facial veils. The legislation imposes a $185 fine or compulsory ‘citizen lessons’ to any woman found violating the measure, which awaits final vote in the Senate.
Do the citizen lessons include tips on how to wear the beret, instead?
The legislation’s advocates say that the full facial coverings undermine French values and oppress women. But in previous protests over the legislation, veiled French women have chanted the mantra “Where is France? Where is tolerance? The veil is my choice.”
In another faith and fashion moment, last week the Iranian government announced a ban on ‘decadent’ Western haircuts in order to “confront the cultural assault by the West.”
On the Iranian chopping block?: The very anti-authoritarian American mullet as well as the manlytail -otherwise known as the male ponytail. Who knew David Beckham, Andre Aggasi and Chuck Norris were so subversive?
But France and Iran’s clash with ‘the other’ in their midsts is profoundly serious.
France struggles to understand and assimilate its Muslim population (5 million strong), while Iran’s religious regime lurches for control over its progressive populace. Both states want to legislate what not to wear, despite the desires of their citizens. In the French example, the government seeks to keep the sacred out of the secular; in Iran, the religious government wants to keep the secular West out of its Islamic state.
Should France and Iran tell their citizens how to dress? What does such legislation say about French and Iranian values? Are the policies oppressive or true to the ideals of the states? What do the fashion police say?