OPEN LETTER TO MEMBERS OF UNITED NATIONS, EUROPEAN UNION AND COUNCIL OF EUROPE
Femmes sans voile d’Aubervilliers (Women Without Veils of Aubervilliers)
The organization Femmes sans voile d’Aubervilliers is a collective of French women of North-African descent, living in the Parisian suburb of Aubervilliers, who promote women’s rights and secularism and oppose the Islamist veil.
Women and girls must be protected from the pressures of fundamentalist Islamists.
As French women proud of our North African origins, we challenge you to recognize the meaning of the veil and we alert you that young girls are being forced to wear it.
No, the veil is not prescribed by the quran,
No, the veil is not harmless,
No, the veil is not a mere article of clothing of no significance.
Whether by choice or by obligation, wearing the veil has become a political act, often without the awareness of the women who wear it. It is a symbol of the patriarchy, a sign of the appropriation of women by men. It has become a manifestation of the political will of Islamist fundamentalists to return to an era of medieval patriarchy, including those societies where laws are based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Even worse, they attempt to impose this abusive practice starting from childhood, on little girls, to better condition them to the future which the Islamists intend to assign them.
The veil as currently promoted is in no way a traditional practice. It is first and foremost a uniform, visible to the whole world, going beyond all cultures and borders. It shows the extent of the fundamentalists’ influence, whether they are armed or not, threatening humans rights and, in particular, the rights of women. Their goal is to institutionalize the domination of men over women, and to see that this principle is imposed on all persons of Muslim background, regardless of the country in which they live.
But when confronted with these demands, international bodies fail to defend the principles and laws which are their mandate. Instead, they accept breaches of equality and freedoms where women are concerned, and rationalize their failure by referring to so-called religious reasons. Thus, the United Nations accepted that the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, in December 1979, be ratified by Muslim countries with reservations which allowed them to continue imposing archaic Islamic law on women.
Similarly, numerous bilateral agreements have the effect of legitimizing, in France and elsewhere in Europe, laws from the country of origin which apply lesser rights for women and which violate gender equality.
Thus, we see the birth of conflicts between human rights and the demands of fundamentalists, conflicts which, in the countries concerned, have led to a disheartening regression over the last forty years. Democratic countries often refuse to recognize this reality which should be seen for what it is: ideological violence.
We salute the Iranian women who have thrown off their veils in public and, by so doing, have defied Teheran, Baghdad and all fundamentalists. We are in solidarity with all women living in countries under Muslim laws, women who demand equality of right, often risking their lives in the process.
As women working in the field, we can say that Resolution 1464 of the Council of Europe, 4the October 2005, is the proper response for the full protection of women’s rights, because it gives priority to fundamental rights over religious dogma. It finally puts women and men on an equal footing with respect to human rights as well as protecting female minors. We deplore the fact that the Resolution has not had the effect we had hoped.
We ask for the application of this Resolution in all countries of the planet, so that all women will finally be liberated from the patriarchal shackles imposed by religions.
“Every step forward for women’s rights is a fight against fundamentalism” (Nigerian Feminist)
- Facebook page of Femmes sans voile d’Aubervilliers (Women Without Veils of Aubervilliers).
- This open letter in the original French.