By Rehan Ansari, TwoCircles.net
Mumbai: Ban on veil by the French government drew much reaction the world over and India was not an exception. Many Muslim organizations including women in veil protested against the ban and expressed their disenchantment by submitting the memorandums to the Consulate General of France in Mumbai.
I had a chance of meeting with the French consulate in Mumbai, H E Francois Pujolas, where he explained in detail his government’s (Nicohals Sarkozy’s) view. Pujolas started his discussion stating that the law was not against Islam and it was nowhere mentioned in the text. Paradoxically in the same meeting he mentioned his government consultation with the French Muslim counsel that gave them the green signal, mentioning nowhere in the Quran it’s mentioned to conceal (instead of cover) the face.
L-to R- The Counslate General of France, Mr.H.E.Francois Pujolas and Rehan Ansari
He also stated that the law is passed by the democratically elected representatives of France and if the people in the France will not like this government’s decision than they will vote against it. According to him, the first and foremost reason is that veil is against the basic concept of living together in France. Everybody has a right to see whom is s/he talking to and dealing with in the public life. Public Safety and Terror threat were the other two reasons he cited.
The first question came into mind was if it was not against Islam then why the hell Sarkozy’s government consulted the French Muslim council. He replied, scantily, that while making the law we need to take into considerations different views but unable to explain why only the French Muslim Council was consulted.
France is a secular democracy and approximately 80% of the population, at least nominally, ascribes to the Catholic religion nearly one million French are Protestants, 6.5 lacs Jews and majority of whom are recent immigrants. Whereas 5 million Muslims mainly of North African descents are the second largest majority in France who migrated in 1950’s to fulfill the need of manpower for the boom of economy.
It was necessary to know the demography of the France because Nicholas Sarkozy’s government is a democratically elected one and therefore, the consulate of France meant to say, have a right to make laws that suit them or their culture even if it goes against the agreed Principles of democracy and secularism.
France Counslate General speaking to Burqa clad women
The question which arises then, is the France truly a secular democratic country? Or a Majoritarian state that ascribes to the Catholic religion and where the majority has a right to crush tiny minority because only 1800 to 2000 women observe veil as reported in the media.
The French counsel did not forget to mention the strict rules in Saudi Arabia and said that when French women visits in Saudi Arabia they follow the rules and lives according to the Saudi culture. But I am sure he will not be able to answer that Saudi Arabia is a declared Islamic state and France proclaims to be a Secular Democracy. Or after a ban on veil, French democracy and secularism, where everybody was free and had a right to follow their religion, has died and a new Catholic State of France is born.