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World Muslims Worried As France Considers Extending Head Scarf Ban To Private Sector Jobs

Discussion in 'Breaking News' started by Archived_Member16, Apr 1, 2013.

  1. Archived_Member16

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    SPNer Thinker

    Jan 7, 2005
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    Muslims worried as France considers extending head scarf ban to private sector jobs

    The Associated Press - April 1, 2013 10:05 AM

    LE BOURGET, France
    — Because of her choice to wear a head scarf, Samia Kaddour, a Muslim, has all but abandoned trying to land a government job in France. Soon, some private sector jobs could be off limits, too.

    French President Francois Hollande says he wants a new law that could extend restrictions on the wearing of prominent religious symbols in state jobs into the private sector.

    His new tack comes after a top French court ruled in March that a daycare operator that gets some state funding unfairly fired a woman in a head scarf, sparking a political backlash.

    As Christians celebrated Easter on Sunday, Kaddour attended the four-day Annual Meeting of Muslims of France in Le Bourget, north of Paris. The convention, which last year drew some 160,000 faithful and was expected to grow this year, is billed as the largest annual gathering of its kind in Europe. It is in its 30th year and ended Monday.

    Bans Grow on Religious Symbols

    French law bars state employees from wearing prominent religious symbols such as Muslim head scarves, Jewish skullcaps or large Christian crosses in public schools, welfare offices or other government facilities. Two years ago, France banned Muslim veils that cover faces, such as the niqab, which has a slit for the eyes, or the mesh-screen burka, from being worn anywhere in public.

    Meeting leaders say France has made progress in accepting Muslims and noted that, unlike 30 years ago, women wearing head scarves today rarely draw suspicion, scowls or curiosity.

    Religious Expression Crimped

    Still, many Muslims — and even some Roman Catholics and Jews — fear France’s insistence on secular values first enshrined in the French Revolution more than two centuries ago is unfairly crimping their ability to express their religious beliefs freely.

    They also worry that Hollande’s Socialist government, like a conservative one before it, wants to score political points.


    Most mainstream politicians insist Islam is not being targeted. But a backlash erupted after the Court of Cassation ruled in March that Baby Loup, a private-sector daycare operator that gets some state funding, unfairly fired a woman who wore a head scarf to work. The far-right railed at the decision, and even Interior Minister Manuel Valls expressed regret over it.

    Wading into the debate in a prime-time TV interview on Thursday, Hollande suggested new limits are needed on Muslim head scarves, saying that “when there is contact with children, in what we call public service of early childhood ... there should be a certain similarity to what exists in (public) school.”

    “I think the law should get involved,” he added.

    Many Muslims fear an encroaching Islamophobia, while proponents of such measures insist they counter extremism and act as a rampart to protect France’s identity against inequality. Polls show that most French people support at least some restrictions on religious symbols.

    Growing Muslim Population

    France, with an estimated five million to six million Muslims whose families mostly have origins in former French colonies in North Africa, is at the forefront of addressing the challenges that many European countries are facing about how to integrate their sizable ethnic and religious minorities on a continent where white Christians have dominated the political landscape for centuries.

    ‘Don’t Panic, I’m Muslim’

    Bristling against stereotypes in many corners of the West that Muslims are closet radicals or even terrorists, leaders of the convention in Le Bourget preached peace and justice. And after prayers and praise of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, convention leaders led a song in Arabic in a vast meeting hall with thousands in the audience — and some up on the dais waved French flags.

    In another convention hall, vendors offered items such as head scarves, sweet pastries or T-shirts emblazoned with the saying “Don’t Panic, I’m Muslim,” while mothers pushing strollers and others wandered through the crowd. Nearby, men knelt in rhythmic unison for afternoon prayers. Several other stalls took up political issues such as support for Palestinians or war-weary Syrians.

    In an interview, Kaddour said many Muslims regret that their faith is in the political cross-currents again in France.

    “Islam has become a political instrument,” said the 26-year-old, who is a community activist from the English Channel port city of Le Havre and one of 10 children of Algerian-born parents who moved to France for plentiful jobs during its economic boom times decades ago. “Islam is always brandished whenever there is internal political discord.”

    “I’m not discouraged enough yet to want to leave France — many others feel that way too: We are French and we have our place to claim and our future to establish in France,” she said. “I’m not a foreigner. I’m French. I want to live in France, I love this country. Even if it has trouble liking us, we are going to do what’s necessary to live serenely in France.”

    Unlikely To Get Gov’t Job

    Kaddour says she plans to go back to school to get a higher degree, but has all but given up hopes for a state job. And in France, that matters: the European Union says more than half of France’s gross domestic product comes from government spending — potentially curbing the work options for head scarf-wearing Muslims such as Kaddour if the ban is broadened.

    “A state job, unfortunately ...” she said, her voice trailing off. “When I go into job interviews, I wear my head scarf. No results.” She admits that she doesn’t always know why — it could just be her skill set isn’t sufficient — but suspects her religion plays a role, too.

    Kaddour says her future career seems increasingly limited to independent, private practice work. She currently works for a small community group devoted to improving understanding of Islam, called Le Havre de Savoir, or The Haven of Knowledge, playing on the city’s name.

    At a time of double-digit unemployment rates in France, such restrictions to job access hit head scarf-wearing women especially hard: Muslim men in France don’t usually wear visible religious garb.

    Sluggish Economy Hurts Cause

    Ahmed Jaballah, the head of the Union of Islamic Organizations of France, a major Muslim group that helped organize the conference, said the “rather morose ambience” over France’s sluggish economic growth recently hasn’t helped Muslims’ aspirations, suggesting that a search for scapegoats is politically appealing. He said he’s concerned about the government’s plans.

    “Unfortunately, Muslims have the impression today that secularism is being shaped based on Muslim practices, and that’s worrisome,” he said in an interview. “Everybody always talks about secularism, how it’s not just about Muslims. But in fact, Muslims are targeted. Nobody is fooled.”

    “Muslims wonder: Can we trust secularism?” he said. “Remember the French slogan: ‘Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite.’ Today, we want this fraternity to be real.”

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    #1 Archived_Member16, Apr 1, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2013
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  3. findingmyway

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    Writer SPNer Thinker Supporter

    Aug 18, 2010
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    The debate in France constantly shifts back to Islamophobia. This is completely the wrong direction and is very damaging as it clouds the issue for the lay public. It is not just Muslims who will be/are affected but also Sikhs, Jews and many other groups. The real debate is whether following a hardline secu;ar agenda is at odds with the right of freedoom to follow religion. France seems to be at odds with the European court of Human Rights but does not care and that is where the debate should be focussed........:confusedkudi:
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  4. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    1947-2014 (Archived)
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    Jun 17, 2004
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    findingmyway ji

    I agree with all you say. And we must always consider that antagonism toward immigrants runs high. This is a way for politicians to pander to the mainstream (whoever they are) by citing the need to preserve "traditional French values." It is a smokescreen for the underlying reason ... economics.

    Most of Europe welcomed immigrants 20 years ago and these immigrants contributed to the growth of European economies. Now the economic picture is not good and someone must pay a price. Blame is a tactical tool in the collection of strategic weapons of politics.

    We see this pattern in nearly every country in the developed world. And imho the situatio is very serious.
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  5. kds1980

    kds1980 India
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    Apr 4, 2005
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    Hardly any country in world care about people which are in very tiny minority.Sikhs are not even 0.1% of French population and Turban wearing sikhs are also will be in minority among sikhs.And I really doubt skull caps will be issue for Jews.That makes muslims 10% of minority as principle group to suffer.

    Also lot of these policies are enforced after 9/11 which clearly shows that Islamophobia may be one of the reason behind it
  6. Tejwant Singh

    Tejwant Singh United States
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    Mentor Writer SPNer Thinker

    Jun 30, 2004
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    Kds ji,

    Guru Fateh.

    I beg to differ with you regarding your premise about the protection of the minorities. This is the duty of any Democratic nation to protect the minorities. It depends on how the constitution of the said democratic country is chalked out. The two best examples of the protection where the minorities have the rights to fight and get the laws passed in their favour are the UK and the USA. In fact, The UK has passed the bill for the LGBT to be married in their respective religious places of worship. Minorities are not all about wearing the religious articles. It is much more than that.

    The stark and shameless reality is that Muslims all around Europe breed like rabbits and take advantage of the welfare system with so many kids per household. That is the reason Muslims have the highest rate of unemployment among the minorities in these countries.

    To ward this off, the Government "invents" laws against all minorities. As a result, minorities suffer as the welfare coffers dry out due to the recession. It impacts us more because of our outer look.

    The case is different for the Sikhs in Italy though, especially in the cheese regions of the country. Many Sikhs have taken over the cheese businesses or are employed by the Italian farm owners because of their work ethics as their kids move out to the cities and there is no one from their families to till the farms. This is the reason Sikhs are well liked and respected there. There are a couple of threads in here about this topic.

    Tejwant Singh
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    #5 Tejwant Singh, Apr 2, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2013
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