The French Government and Hypocrisy- One and the same

lorealLet me see if I understand this correctly, the French government can impose limits on what a hijab-demo-17jan04-741person can wear or not wear in order to attend government schools, yet a private company cannot say who it can hire to be sales staff for its products, even when the people appearing in those products are people of color?

France can ban the wearing of religious symbols even when those wearing them are doing so of their own free will in an expression of their religious beliefs in a society thatsupposedly  promotes, liberty, fraternity and equality, while insisting at the same time that companies do not have the right to determine who they can  employ in selling their products?  No one sees the slightest bit of hypocrisy in the French position?

People, who of their own free will,  practice a faith that may be different and not customary to the wider society  and choose to wear clothes that express themselves in ways different than the majority, but who are at the same time law abiding citizens who do not  frighten or intimidate others, should not have laws legislated which seek to limit or curtail that expression.  In fact the beauty of liberty and freedom means acts of social interaction are interpreted based on the law, which should should not be enacted to deny expression, but rather the acts of illegality that expression may or may not encourage.  Therefore, if a school girl walking down a French street is the victim of sexual harassment or assault it is the perpetrator of that action who should be limited not the girl wearing an article of clothing.   What the French want to do is take the act of discipline off their hands by removing the object of people’s ire, and in the process limit the freedom of its citizens.

Likewise, companies who have broadly used women of color in their advertising campaigns but choose to hire a sales staff they think may be able to sale their product to a broad based clientele should not have the weight of the State descend on them in a punitive way.  L’Oreal in France has to have the support of a majority of women of color in order to be profitable.  If hiring people that reflect a certain demographic will give them that market, how can the State justify changing that dynamic and jeopardizing the viability of the Company?  Will the State then say that the public MUST buy certain products in order to insure the success of a company so that it doesn’t go under because of the financially oppressive measures of the State?  Don’t be surprised if that happens next.

For now, France is following in the tradition of other western countries that seek to use expressions of liberty and freedom as slogans  which fall quickly when government wants to intervene in the lives of its citizens.  The tools the state uses for this intervention are usually fear and loathing of opponents who are unknown or unfamiliar.  Civilized people should recognize such tactics for what they are.  Ignorant people are too easily persuaded and succomb to the deceit.  The two cases above highlight how France is counting on the latter with its citizens!  Que sera, sera!

Muslim students representin’

I was glad to see this article on Muslim students preparing themselves to enter the fields of law and journalism.  God knows, because of the last eight years of the Bush Administration, Muslims need to be concerned with the interpretation of the laws that criminal was able to push through Congress which in some ways threaten the very existence of freedom of religion and religious expression in our country.  In the polarized atmosphere of a rabid chief executive officer, our country thought it was ok to entertain the notion that rights could be curtailed in the name of safety, and the first group to start with were people of the Islamic faith…or so the theory went.  Fortunately young Muslims are seeing the need to prepare themselves for the eventuality such byzantine laws might bring.

“Our parents were focused on economic stability,” said Qureshi, a second-year law student at UNC-Chapel Hill.

“Our needs are not economic stability but social and political empowerment.”


“We’re trying to make sure every American is entitled to civil rights guarantees in the Constitution,” said Abbas Ravjani, president of the National Muslim Law Students Association and a student at Yale Law School. The organization was formed six years ago and now has 300 students on its electronic mailing list.

I am also happy to see their interest in journalism.

Young Muslims are also studying journalism. Yasmin Amer said she was tired of seeing Muslims misrepresented in the media. On Tuesday, Amer, a third-year journalism and Arabic double major at UNC-CH, organized a panel discussion of an inflammatory DVD called “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West.

I personally can’t think of a better venue with which to start.