Wednesday, July 14, 2010
July 14 is Bastille Day.
On this day in 1789 the citizens of Paris stormed the Bastille, a prison that symbolized the power of the King over anyone who disagreed with the absolute monarchy. There were only 7 prisoners in the Bastille at the time, but the citizens saw their freedom made visible in the fall of this prison. And each year the French return to this day as a reminder of their freedom.
Which is why I find it so strange that yesterday – the day before Bastille Day – France chose to take away the freedom of some of her citizens. Yesterday France's lower house of parliament overwhelmingly approved a ban on wearing burqa-style Islamic veils. While I am opposed to the imposition of this garment on unwilling women, I am as opposed to a government preventing people from choosing their religious mode of dress – no matter how strange it may seem to those outside of the religion.
Because I treasure the freedom of religious belief and expression for myself, I therefore need to defend this space for someone of a religious tradition different from my own.