As part of a training conducted at work, we were all shown a set of photos and asked to choose among these for various roles in our organization. Since we were given nothing other than the photos, we had to rely on their appearance. The exercise was over in 5 minutes. When the choices were compared, it was a wake up call for me! Among the photos, there were a man wearing a keffiyeh and a woman wearing a burqa. None of the participants including me chose these two people for any role! I pride in being non-biased. But the reality is different! I’m prejudiced!
As a result, I look at France’s burqa ban in a different light. When I read the news, I was disgusted! My initial reaction was “why”; why do you play with religious sentiments? In a post-9/11 world, there is mistrust in the keffiyehs and the burqa. Your prejudices surface in a crowded place and your heart skips a beat. By banning burqa, France is homogenizing their residents. With this process, there are trying to remove not only the mistrust and fear in the beholder but also the danger for the one who wears these garments.
The mistrust and fear can be eradicated by creating awareness in people. An awareness campaign might take longer and would not yield the desired results. A burqa ban is more effective and painless than an awareness campaign on any day. But, isn’t it a failure of democracy when a section of people are forced out of their right to wear what they like or chose?