[lit-ideas] Re: Religion & Public Reason

  • From: Phil Enns <phil.enns@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sat, 7 Aug 2010 08:46:19 -0400

I had written:

"What makes the French prohibition of the hijab or niqab objectionable
is the obvious hypocrisy of a radically secular state concerning
itself with religious reasons."

to which Eric replies:

"I don't understand. Ordinary citizens are probably prohibited from
walking around in armored bomb-disposal suits."

I doubt that there are restrictions on wearing such suits.  However, I
can imagine the police getting involved if someone wearing a
bomb-disposal suit was on the street holding a big box.  In this case,
wearing the suit suggests that the contents of the box are dangerous.
But what is the danger suggested by the niqab?

Apparently, the French consider the niqab to be a cultural threat
since the proposed punishment would be either a fine or attending
classes on what it means to be French.  In short, the French consider
the reasons for wearing the niqab to be contrary to the norms of
French society.  But why should a state committed to laicite concern
itself with the religious beliefs of individuals when those beliefs
have no public consequences beyond their expression?

Phil Enns
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