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Monday Message Board

January 19th, 2004

By mid-day this time. I’m up in the Snowy Mountains with a very flaky phone and Internet connection, but that’s all the more reason for you to talk among yourselves (in a civilised fashion, of course, and without resorting to coarse, language).

Normal service will really, truly be restored by next week.

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  1. Stewart Kelly
    January 21st, 2004 at 13:07 | #1

    Anyone else think the french government is way out of line in banning teachers from wearing religious symbols? I support seperation of church and state, but teachers and students being allowed to wear religious symbols is an issue of personal freedom of expression. Surely that freedom takes precedence?

  2. John
    January 21st, 2004 at 16:24 | #2

    I agree with you, and may try a post on this sometime.

  3. observa
    January 21st, 2004 at 17:40 | #3

    Stewart, I think the difficulty for very large Govt institutions is eventually they run into the problem of the few spoiling it for the many. A rude, unpleasant vocal minority will always tend to stuff it up for the sensible, well mannered mainstream. Basically they want to ram their message down others throats and then it’s hello legislative bans.

    To have total freedom, as well as the religious symbols, you have to allow the swastikas, inyaface T-shirts, etc which upsets good taste. Look at the problem Tex has at the ANU, with his fightback against the inyaface Lefties. In the end the institution will either have to tolerate all or ban all. The answer of course is to have lots of competing and diverse institutions, where each can find a comfy home. It’s called free enterprise and you’ll notice how singing for your supper makes enterprises naturally PC with everybody, or at least with their chosen segment of the marketplace.

  4. Jill Rush
    January 21st, 2004 at 19:37 | #4

    It seems to be very cosy for men to agree that hajibs are quite ok.

    For women the issue is a little more emotional and pertinent. The women who insist on wearing a hajib are wearing a religious garment which is an indirect way of stating that women who do not wear the same are immodest and not worthy of respect. In Islamic countries women who don’t wear the hajib can be treated quite brutally.

    It is easier to ban any religious item of clothing than to address this basic offensive message. The swastika for some may be more offensive but the hajib restricts movement, stops girls taking part in activities and imposes a range of illiberal ideas on those who wear them and others who don’t wish to offend.

    As a religious symbol in a schooling system which is secular – it has no place. That it also creates a great deal of tension in others is important. If it offered any kind of real benefit it may be something that could be defended – but to defend it purely on simplistic grounds, that the person should be free to wear what they like, is flying in the face of traditions which state that children wear school uniform to reduce tensions in the playground and to have children treated as equals.

    Girls in hajib – despite the protestations of those who wear them or their male religious leaders – are not equal. For confirmation of that just look at the dilemma in Iraq.

  5. Grant
    January 22nd, 2004 at 01:30 | #5

    I was surprised to read recently that display of religious symbols in schools, personal or on the walls of the building, had been banned for a long time in France. It’s rooted in the poltical turmoil of the Revolutions.

    In which case the recent banning is not new as such but simply reinforces existing rules which may have been easing more than people felt comfortable with from all sides.

    What at first appears to be an item of clothing might well be seen as a way to work around the existing laws. Presumably the majority are fairly happy with things the way they have been. No doubt they will give the iussue some more thought now that it has been forced out into the open for public debate and will resolve in time.

    This entire situation is more likely to be a symptom of deeper issues, power bases and divides in the geographically mobile modern world than it is of religious freedom/persecution.

    The UK had a similar situation with Sikh’s and their turbans a few years ago. Much less is heard of it now. Of course that was a male dominated argument …

    Either way it is an internal issue. That same freedom of movement and choice that allows people to settle in one placed means they can move on if they don’t like it on the balance of the options available to them.

    Grant

  6. Stewart Kelly
    January 25th, 2004 at 21:27 | #6

    “As a religious symbol in a schooling system which is secular – it [the hajib] has no place. ”

    I thought secularism was about preventing the state from promoting religion, not preventing individuals from practicing it?

    Look, if you want to promote liberation of Islamic women that’s great. But trampling all over everybodies right to freedom of religious expression is not the way to do it.

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