Egypt’s Islamic intellectuals condemn French Justice Minister over veil comments

Egypt’s Islamic intellectuals condemn French Justice Minister over veil comments

Egyptian Islamic thinkers have condemned French Justice Minister Michele Alliot-Marie over comments she said on a recent television interview. The justice minister said that fully veiled women living in France would “not” be given full citizenship in the country if they are completely veiled.

Alliot-Marie said that wearing the niqab or burqa – the full covering that includes the face – “affected our ability to live together, the values of the republic and in particular, human dignity.”

It comes after months of French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s efforts to have the full veil banned from the country, which has left many Islamic thinkers frustrated over what they are calling the “lack of French understanding” over the dress.

According to reports from France, a Parliamentary panel is currently exploring possible laws that bar women from wearing the full face veils in the European country. France is home to Europe’s largest Muslim minority.

Speaking in a television interview, Ms Alliot-Marie said: “There are a certain number of basics on which we must stand firm.

“For instance, someone who would be seeking French citizenship and whose wife wears the full veil is someone who would not appear to be sharing the values of our country.

“Therefore in a case like that one, we would reject his request.”

Gamal al-Banna, a leading Islamic scholar and often at odds with the established attitudes of the region, said that people should understand that the “veil is not Islamic.” He asserted that the French attempts to ban the veil are pushing radicalism and intolerance forward. In order to end this, they must make an effort to educate their population on what the veil represents.

“It is from an era before Islam, when both men and women wore it in the desert. Now, people are attempting to argue it is from Islam, but it is not. The veil is an erroneous covering that has been usurped by scholars and men who want to have their women covered. There is no mention of this in the Qur’an,” the scholar said.

Sarkozy has called the wearing of a full veil “not a religious sign… (but) a sign of subservience, a sign of debasement.”

But, the move has its detractors, most notably American President Barack Obama, who did not support the move, commenting: “In the US, our basic attitude is that we’re not going to tell people what to wear.”

An estimated five million Muslims live in France, making up about 8 percent of the population.

More than half, 54 percent of French people believe Islam is compatible with their society, according to a recent poll.

“We need to have more tolerance in our world if we are going to understand each other. This anger and hate must stop,” added al-Banna.