Yesterday was a strange day: Both the European Court of Justice for human rights and the German Federal Court of Justice published rulings, and they don't quite fit together.
The European Court ruled that a law which forbids people to wear face masks (basically an anti-Burqa law) is fine, for such covering up of the face is contrary to social interaction and thus undermines society.
Meanwhile, the German court ruled that the identity of the anonymous author of an online comment doesn't need be revealed, even if he lied. An exception is only fine for prosecution of crimes. So basically it upholds an individual's right to stay anonymous in one's interactions with others as long as one doesn't commit a crime.
example press reports: FAZ "Anonyme Äußerungen im Netz bleiben anonym" and FAZ "Straßburg erlaubt Burka-Verbot"
This doesn't fit together in my opinion, and I have a strong suspicion: Later generations will rather reject the former than the latter decision. The European court's decision has a smell of a majority pushing (back) a minority, while the German court has the smell of supporting an established practice.
The French (and other countries') anti-burqa (rather anti-niqab) legislation doesn't seem to be wise anyway, but rather looks like an unnecessary infringement of freedom. It's a crude tool in a fight against an imported culture that hasn't been integrated well enough to be considered a subculture.
|Veils don't necessarily look modest.|
This is often a problem with large immigrant minorities; their communities often concentrate enough on a few spots (few cities, or city quarters) to retain much of their original culture (usually a rather rural and not very modernised subculture of their homeland). This is very often entirely unproblematic and may even be considered a useful seed - especially if they import previously unheard-of trades. The Chinese beer brewery central of China is the small former protectorate/colony/whatever of Tsingtao, for example. German food choices have been enriched very much by Turks, Greeks and Italians - and then blends of indigenous and foreign food cultures were created.
What doesn't work so well is when immigrants maintain their culture enough to persist as foreign bodies in a society instead of as a subculture group - and especially so if their incomes stagnate below average (much above average isn't without issues either; see the Lebanese traders in Africa).
An inaccurate ban on a visual symptom of non-integration is crude and regrettably best-suited to provoke a perception of oppression. I doubt the court would have upheld the law with the same reasoning about social interaction if there was no Burqa debate and the plaintiff was a club of motorcyclists, a fan club of full beards and reflective sunglasses or a Tuareg representative (in which the men wear full face covers). The social interaction thing is likely just a pretence, an excuse.
We need to find smarter ways to address cultural integration issues. The French have a particularly rich choice of options in this regard.
P.S.: Not all pseudo-Islamic headwear is a Burqa:
link to January 2014 Mail Online article on how the different headwears are called, and where they are popular.
Another link to the Islamic Myths blog writing about how the Qu'ran actually doesn't require such headwear.
The Al-Amira/JJiljab/Hijab headwear was IIRC up to the 1990's a typical elderly woman headwear in Germany..