Letter to the French President- (Jacques Chirac)-Before Signing the Law Banning the Islamic Hijab in Public Schools

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Letter to the French President

 (Jacques Chirac)

Before Signing the Law Banning the Islamic Hijab in Public Schools

 

On December 11th, 2003 (16 Shawwal, 1424) the government committee studying the phenomenon of the Islamic veil in the French schools concluded its investigations, and presented the recommendation to ban all religious symbols –including the Islamic veil- in schools. It also recommended a ban of Jewish hats and large crucifixes for Christians, and that Muslim and Jewish festival days should be a public holiday instead of confining the holidays to Christian occasions, although those latter recommendations were little more the paltry gestures aimed to misguide the real aim of those recommendations, and “through dust in the eyes” as it were.

 

We express our regret for such recommendations and hope that the president would not ratify them to turn them into official policy for the following reasons:

1- Such decisions contradict such basic rights as the freedom of expression of belief and freedom to practice one’s belief. France often boasts and takes pride over other countries of the world for its observation of human rights. However, when such decisions appear they only would serve to show the falsity of those claims, and show the real image of the western regimes which would not mind trampling over all human and religious legislations once their narrow, interest-focused perspective necessitates this.

2- The Islamic veil is not a mere “religious symbol” as is the case with the crucifix or the Jewish hat (and here we remind you that the government’s resolution even approved small crucifixes and some Jewish religious symbols). The Islamic veil is a commitment for a whole life system followed by Muslim women, indicating a chaste behavior free of cheating and sin, rejecting corruption and deviation from the noble Islamic values. Wearing a crucifix or a hat does not indicate the same level of commitment.

We believe that wearing the veil is the sign distinguishing women committed to the teachings of Islam from other women. If a woman is veiled then this means she is perfectly committed to all the details of the Shari’ah, so this inference is false.

3- The veil is an important and necessary part of the Muslim woman’s being, she does not give it up at any cost, even if this was her own life. Such a resolution will lead many Muslim women to give up their studies so that they would not have to give up their veil, thus depriving them of their basic right of education.

4- The virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ (Peace upon him) and sacred figure in both Islam and Christianity, was a pure and worshipping woman who dedicated her life for Allah (Exalted is He). She was not unveiled, and she was not subject to men’s sights. She would be the first to have rejected such a resolution as she would have wanted women to follow her example. I beseech you for the love of God not to cause agitation to her holy spirit through such resolutions.

5- We do understand that secularism is the principle driving all governments in the western world, and we know that it was used as a pretext as wearing the veil was considered in contradiction to secularism. But secularism simply means separating religion from politics, it does not mean in any way active adversity or enmity to religion. If it is understood thus, then this is simply a misrepresentation of the very secularism which they try to convince religious communities of its virtues.

6- Western countries have recently heeded attention to the fact that the only remedy for diseases such as AIDS and social problems such as crime and suicide can only occur through enforcing the spiritual values which build a more sublime character in the individual. The Islamic veil is a part of this education.

 

I reiterate my hope that the French government does not go with these recommendations, leaving to the people the freedom to express their religious views. This is particularly true to France, a country closely associated with a rich environment of freedom in the minds of many other countries, especially after the French Revolution. Please do not undermine this view.

And Praise is to Allah, the Lord of the worlds, and Allah’s Prayers upon His servants whom He had selected.

Muhammad Al-Yaqubi

Shawwal 17th, 1424