July 2, 2014

Protecting religious freedom — we've seen our Supreme Court, now let's look at The European Court of Human Rights.

The NYT reports:
The European Court of Human Rights has upheld a ban imposed by France on the wearing of face-covering veils in public, rejecting arguments that the measure violates religious freedoms and bolstering opponents of strict Islamic dress in other parts of Europe....
In the United States, the question would be whether the government had a compelling interest that required this substantial burden on religion (at least under the current statutory law, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act). The European court's statement explained its decision this way:
“While the court was aware that the disputed ban mainly affected certain Muslim women, it nevertheless noted that there was no restriction on the freedom to wear in public any item of clothing which did not have the effect of concealing the face and that the ban was not expressly based on the religious connotation of the clothing in question but solely on the fact that it concealed the face.”

The court also said it was “able to understand the view” that, in the interests of social cohabitation, the wearing of such face-covering veils might be perceived as thwarting “open interpersonal relationships, which, by virtue of an established consensus, formed an indispensable element of community life within the society in question.”

While opponents of the ban complained that it could exacerbate social tensions, the court’s statement concluded that the prohibition could “be regarded as proportionate to the aim pursued, namely the preservation of the conditions of ‘living together' ” in French society.

40 comments:

Anonymous said...

Covering the face could be seen as an example of birth control, but not an abortifacient. Also, a bukkake joke.

Anonymous said...

Terrible Reading Comprehension Guy says:

Althouse has surely missed the point on this one. Hobby Lobby did not require women to wear face-covering veils: indeed, many of the sparkles and beads available at the store could be used to enhance said veil. Furthermore, her post is referencing France, not the United States: I'm not even sure if they have Hobby Lobby in France. Poorly reasoned, Althouse, poorly reasoned.

Anonymous said...

Terrible Reading Comprehension Guy says:

Is Meade afraid to point out such inaccurate reasoning to Althouse? I would think the steady hand of a wise man could help her better navigate the tricky shoals of complex reasoning.

tim in vermont said...

At least a ruling like that could allow gay marriage while disallowing polygamy, for example, since it refers to social norms, but I thought that was what democracy was for.

Ralph Hyatt said...

I found the following in the wikipedia (yeah, I know take it with a barrel of salt) entry entitled "Religion In France."

Communautarisme, meaning the forming of ethnic or religious communities separate from mainstream life, occurs frequently but often meets with suspicion.

My understanding from reading articles concerning the ban is that the French want Muslims to assimilate into French culture and that wearing distinctive clothing inhibits this. Thus the ban on head scarves in schools and government buildings and the ban on face-covering veils period.

I believe there was a similar issue in the US not all that long ago where a woman wanted to be issued a drivers license while wearing a hijab, making it impossible to identify her from her picture. The state had a law stating that obscuring your face in your drivers license photo was not allowed. She sued, claiming that the state was violating her religious rights.

She lost. I believe because the court felt that the public safety purpose served by the law outweighed her religious rights.

Alexander said...

Oh, I think it's much simpler than that:

The Europeans for all the blustering of multiculturalism are fully aware that demographics are inevitably going to lead to increasing numbers of cars being burned during Algerian soccer wins/losses/ties, that speaking out against the religion of peace will be met with death, and larger tracts of their urban areas will be rendered no go zones.

This quite rightly terrifies the elite who are observably not members of said group, and as such while they are not (yet) willing to enact any policies to actually solve the issue of surrendering their homeland to a hostile colonizing force, they at least recognize that allowing them the twin advantages of anonymity and overt rejection of the host culture is a bad idea.

It's going to be a hoot and a half watching the American left when they figure out just how brutally tribal the Europeans they so admire can be. It's going to have all the fun of the Reconquista, only played out over an entire continent and condensed into a couple of decades, tops.

Always remember, Europe can go from democracy to jackboots in two seconds. Only this time round, they've had a generation or three of actively pursuing a policy against producing the little feet that will wear the boots. The time bomb is ticking!

tl;dr: The courts, the law, "democracy" had no say in this decision what so ever, and that's the real fundamental difference between the US and EU.

Lyssa said...

I think that the practice of veiling women is extremely nasty, but I would fear that the women most in need of protection by the ban, those forced to wear one by their families, are more likely to be further repressed by families who will now force them to avoid being in public at all.

I think that Poor Reading Comprehension Guy is my favorite of the Betamax characters thus far.

Bob Boyd said...

Perhaps banning face coverings has more to do with face recognition technology and the surveillance state than with "open interpersonal relationships".

Eric said...

Ah, the French. They have serious problems with a large, disaffected immigrant group and they call out the fashion police.

Leo said...

Hang on I thought the RFRA only limited the federal government's actions. This is the French government not the European commission restricting Muslims freedoms. For there to be an analogy wouldn't hobby lobby have to be about a state government's action?

Leo said...

Hang on I thought the RFRA only limited the federal government's actions. This is the French government not the European commission restricting Muslims freedoms. For there to be an analogy wouldn't hobby lobby have to be about a state government's action?

gspencer said...

When Muslims are the ones setting the rules, lefties are gonna long for the days of Christianity.

Annie said...

Looking around at various islamic websites, wearing the hijab is not mandated in the quran.

Scott M said...

It's going to be a hoot and a half watching the American left when they figure out just how brutally tribal the Europeans they so admire can be.

Wasn't it the French that passed a law requiring a majority percentage of tv programming be of French origin?

Ralph Hyatt said...

"Always remember, Europe can go from democracy to jackboots in two seconds."

I cannot remember the movie or book I saw it in, but I recall a scene where two characters are talking (a father and son I think) and the son is telling the father he is going to Europe. The father tells the son to enjoy himself, but to remember that Europeans like to slaughter each other. I believe the time frame is in the 20s.

mccullough said...

Europeans are statists. So are the progressives here. So is the NY Times. I'm happy to see the Times going under. Europe is going away too with its low fertility rate and prostrate population. Decline is a choice. They have chosen poorly.

MadisonMan said...

The Burqa/Niqab to me represents a society where men are so ill-equipped to rein in baser desires that they have to remove all temptation, completely. Yet I always read it as something that reflects on the women. It's not like women are the ones who developed this garb.

Now -- what if a person is horribly disfigured in a burn accident. Can they wear a face-covering veil in France?

And is it mean of me to think: Well, if you want to wear that garb, why don't you move to Saudi Arabia where they are welcomed? It seems like you have a choice of Western Freedom and Western clothing, or Burqa/Niqab and the society that embraces it. You seem to want to have it both ways.

William said...

A pretty woman has quite a lot of leverage to use against the world. A facial veil takes away that leverage. It is not by accident that in societies where women can use their beauty or sex appeal as a bargaining chip, women have gained the greatest amount of autonomy......I suppose you could argue that in Muslim societies women are judged not on their looks and that this is empowering to homely women, but clearly the losses outweigh the gains.......If all men were made to use wheelchairs in public interactions, the height advantage of tall men would disappear. Perhaps the egalitarians should get behind this reform. Veils for women and wheelchairs for men. Equality for all.

Peter said...

Doesn't matter. By 2050 or so France will be an Islamic Republic.

Which will significantly burden all those who are not Muslim in many ways, but particularly in the free exercise of religions other than Islam.

The former colonizer has been colonized. The manifest destiny of that most secular of European nations (since 1793, anyway) is to become a theocracy.



Gem Quincyite said...

what about REALLY, REALLY BIG sunglasses???

Brando said...

The reasons cited for banning the veil certainly seem weak--I could understand if the veil were banned because it thwarts positive identification and France was suffering a rash of crimes committed by people in veils who couldn't be later identified.

But then, France simply doesn't have the freedoms we have, and over the past two hundred years lapsed into dictatorships on a few occasions. It's one reason we shouldn't be so quick to emulate them.

n.n said...

Alexander:

The French in particular have actively opposed extreme social change in recent years. They expressed their discernment by upholding tolerance but rejecting normalization of homosexual behavior through "marriage", when they arrived at the government's doorstep accompanied by their children. Now they are standing against an invading population, albeit largely invited, which threatens their nation and society through language, culture, religious, etc. change.

As for the homogenous European population, it doesn't exist. It never existed, except in times of overwhelming need. But, the political and social complex classifies them as "white" and not only expects but directs a uniform response and treatment, and when they exhibit uniqueness or individuality, they are criticized as nationalistic, chauvinistic, jingoistic, anti-immigrant, bigoted or something. There is a clear pattern of abuse by political and social authorities, both in Europe and America.

To be fair, Europeans have less room (e.g. geographical, population) for error than Americans; and we are not far behind the learning curve.

Andy Freeman said...

Hobby Lobby's policy is not visible - you can't look at someone and know what their insurance covers.

A veil in public is distinguishable, especially if there's a history of using disguise to do things.

Such as swat-team members wearing masks.

n.n said...

re: European multiculturalism

Their social programs were viable in part because they were administered in largely homogenous communities of a certain religion (i.e. morality). The threat to their high standard of living by extreme or competing cultures, ideologies, etc., has forced them to confront the nature of progress in their midst. They are also aware of the demographic suicide engendered by both their official and popular reproductive choices.

ken in sc said...

Many states, especially southern ones, have anti-Klan laws which prohibit face covering hoods or masks in public. Of course, these laws would apply to anyone regardless of religious affiliation.

BTW, the Klan always claimed to be a religious organization. They considered themselves as knights protecting Christian civilization from the forces of barbarism.

Now-a-days, they seem be just a few skin-head guys in biker bars with swastika tattoos.

Ryan said...

Based on that standard can France also please ban the not wearing of deodorant? Such pervasive stench is certainly more damaging to "social cohabitation" than a burka.

Anonymous said...

Islam is the left's loverboy, but that doesn't prevent the left from using islam as a boo-man.
Ah well, it's all taqiyya.

Anyway, does all this mean that not forcing employers to subsidize "contraception" destroys "social cohesion"?

And also, what is the point of the Volkische Beobachter, oh sorry, the NYT. That there should be no religious freedom? Or that the state decides?

Krumhorn said...

Hey, Terrible Reading Comprehension Guy! I doubt that even the steady hand of a wise man could keep a blogger from dashing herself onto the shoals that litter the Straits of Disconnect by conjuring up the learned jurisprudence in the Sharia Courts as they explain the fate of the Coptic Christians in the new Caliphate.

While the European Court stresses that banning the bukkake guard "was a legitimate attempt to preserve the norms of France’s diverse society", and the US Court did their usual dance to determine if the government employed the least restrictive means of serving a compelling government interest in promoting contraception, the Coptics, which surely must also be some sort of sex-church thing, have to be repressed in order to preserve Islam's diverse society.

The war on women has apparently now become a World War.

As an aside, I recently purchased a very fine glass caliphate coptic from Adam & Eve. Can't wait to use it in my next skirmish.

-Krumhorn

Ironclad said...

There is a substantial burden on the population at large when a percentage of people decide to conceal their identity in public by wearing face and body concealing garments. The religious requirements on these garments are also so as to not tempt men with the feminine wiles - not to preserve dignity. Frankly, wearing them is the equivalent to saying "you are a man and you can't control yourself if you see my radiance, so I wear this as not to tempt you into sin".

But then again, maybe the government could provide them - that seems to be the solution to everything these days.

David said...

So under the European formulation if the state wants it, it's a compelling interest.

Same in the USA, actually. Except that in some cases a supposedly neutral arm of the state (the judiciary) gets to decide what is compelling.

Even when the courts are involved, it's the state doing the deciding.

chillblaine said...

I heard California just passed a law allowing the wearing of the hijab in public. I'm thinking of leaving before they make it mandatory.

Alexander said...

Let us also consider that those adherents of the religion of peace who seem... explosively vehement in their desire to share the peace by quite literally blowing themselves to pieces - have proven quite willing to cross dress in order to more effectively do so. There is a reasonable case for expecting open faces in any sort of public venue, but there is a literally a growing body of evidence that it is a bad idea to let the followers of the Mohammad (peace be unto him!) travel amongst densely packed infidels without being able to see the face.

tim in vermont said...

"A pretty woman has quite a lot of leverage to use against the world. A facial veil takes away that leverage."

I call it sexual socialism.

Paul Mac said...

Wonder how the Guy Fawkes wearing Anonymous folks will react to this, or celebrities trying to dissuade the paparazzi.

Smilin' Jack said...

....the court’s statement concluded that the prohibition could “be regarded as proportionate to the aim pursued, namely the preservation of the conditions of ‘living together' ” in French society.

Have the Germans said they won't accept surrenders from people wearing face masks? Or is there something more to "French society" that I'm unaware of?

n.n said...

tim in vermont:

Ugly people of the world, unite!

Yeah, that works. It fits the Marxist model where dissociation of risk and reward are the opiate of the masses.

Anglelyne said...

Smilin' Jack: Have the Germans said they won't accept surrenders from people wearing face masks? Or is there something more to "French society" that I'm unaware of?

Haw haw haw.

Hey Jack, I have a great idea. Next month is the centennial of the Great War. How 'bout you go take a tour of Verdun, the Somme, etc. and run your big ignorant mouth about what cowards the French are while you're there? Or if this August is inconvenient, go anytime and park yourself in front of wars and Resistance memorials, with their harrowing roll calls of sacrifice and heroism, that can be found in cities and numberless small towns across France, and do the same.

Go on, Jack, make us proud. You're every bit as impressive as Europeans who talk stupid ignorant smack about my country and countrymen.

Anglelyne said...

The court also said it was “able to understand the view” that, in the interests of social cohabitation, the wearing of such face-covering veils might be perceived as thwarting “open interpersonal relationships, which, by virtue of an established consensus, formed an indispensable element of community life within the society in question.”

Well, that's just it, isn't it? The "established consensus" of what "community life" ought to be among the French is radically different from that of face-veil prescribing Muslims. IOW, multiculturalism doesn't work. Cultures really are different in their fundamental assumptions about how the common life should be lived, yes, even the ones with self-deluding claims to universalism.

Fat chance you'll ever get lefty (or a lot of rightie, for that matter) ideologues to admit the obvious, despite the fact that the vocabulary used here appeals to a concrete historic culture, not a civic abstraction.

Goju said...

Anglelyne, Do the French have monuments to the troops who threatened mutiny in WW1 or the Resistance groups who actively cooperated with the Nazis in WW2?

Maybe the French could put up a monument to the French troops who fought against the Allies during the North African landings. Or the French admiral who was going to turn over French capital ships to the Nazis.

Anglelyne said...

Goju - Some French co-operated with the Nazis and fought against the Allies? Golly, who knew?