Wednesday, March 30, 2005

This World...Is It Not About Freedom of Choice?

For those of you back home that have cable, you should check out whether This World airs on BBC America. It is an excellent show that documents various cultural perspectives and various topics. Last night the episode focused on the law passed last year that students can no longer wear any article that may signify their religious faith. This seems, according to the program, to be particularly geared at young ladies who wear a head covering as part of their Islamic faith. I was astounded at the bigoted remarks by educators that these young ladies who chose to wear the covering as a symbol of their personal relationship with God were somehow all destined to become Islamic fundamentalists (a.k.a. terrorists). You would think a country as liberal as France appears to be (particularly with recent events) would never impose such an unjust law. The law has now expanded to hospital staff. Many students have been expelled for refusing to remove their head coverings. One teacher in the program condemned the head covering, using an Iranian writer who refused to wear it because the Iranian government forced all women to. Isn’t that what France is doing? Isn’t what we should all be doing is allowing individuals to express their personal beliefs in their own way? I remember seeing Azir Nafisi speak at Butler University with Em last year and the question of this law was posed to her. She, a woman who left her job in refusal to wear the veil, along with succumbing to many other restraints, commented that it is not the veil we should be against, but the lack of freedom to choose. In the States, I have never been one for prayer in schools. But when I say that, I mean I do not approve of some principal reading a Christian prayer along with the morning announcements, with the general expectation that all the ‘American’ children in that school will associate with that particular religion. But if a group of kids want to get together after school for a prayer group, or a student wants to wear a cross around their neck or a piece of fabric around their head, how does anyone have the right to say they cannot?

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