Authors: Aleksander Olech, PhD, Julia Różańska.
The beginning of the 21st century marks a period of constant changes as a result of uncontrolled migrations. The absence of appropriate laws, together with mistakes made in the creation of systems for admitting immigrants, has caused the countries of Western Europe to face the consequences of their misconduct. Anticipation of the events in the French Republic was possible in the context of the ongoing military operations in Africa and the Middle East in the second half of the 20th century. French units started the war outside the continent decades ago and are now prolonging it for “stabilisation” purposes, which still strongly ties them to their former colonies. France’s actions within its international alliances, open migration policy, relatively easy access to social benefits for its inhabitants, desire for rapid economic development, faulty cooperation with North African countries, lapses in security services, inadequate cultural education, mistakes in the management of newly arrived migrants, or undefined rights for followers of different religions, have resulted in its contemporary population of different faiths and beliefs. The community within the country cannot coexist despite having the same nationality, living in the same town or attending the same school.
The refugee phenomenon has existed for hundreds of years. After each war, new groups searching for a home have formed, crossing countries and continents. Given the migration crises of 2015 and 2021, for example, including the arrival of people of other faiths in Europe, it is worth noting how the wearing of burqas, hijabs, and niqabs on the Old Continent is regulated by law. After the Americans left Afghanistan, the Taliban announced that burqas would not be compulsory, but hijabs were. The above raises the question of how women who flee the Taliban to Europe will dress. In addition, there are thousands of migrants from other countries. Will they fit in with the general trend in Europe, or will they instead stick to patterns that require them to cover their faces as part of their religion?
Western Europe today is a region struggling with internal instability and civil wars. Unpredictable rebel activities in these regions force dozens of families to move to a different continent. All that remains for them are their inalienable human rights. These enable people to live and pass on important values to their children. The religion practised in the countries of Western Europe, an essential part of their lives, does not disappear after moving to another country. At the heart of the problems in the existence of followers of different religions are rules and compromises between them. Only a sensible, responsible, and compliant form of behaviourism can guarantee the correct functioning of society in France.
Prohibitions have a regulatory purpose and are designed to set specific standards and values that are supposed to impact the functioning of entities positively. Breaking such bans results, in most cases, in punishment. In referring to their sources, we can divide them into religious (a particular religion stipulates so), moral (morality dictates so), and practical (practised for a particular reason). Prohibitions are usually created when there is a need to unify rules and create certain living conditions. Restrictions allow for the stabilisation and regulation of social life. In the French Republic, the law prohibiting faces covering in public spaces (fr. Loi interdisant la dissimulation du visage dans l’espace public) passed on 11 October 2010. The ban has caused an adverse reaction, in particular among Muslims. Cultural conditions in specific regions and traditions maintained over the centuries require Muslim women to cover particular parts of their bodies: hair, face, eyes, or arms. Following the regulation mentioned above, France became the first European state to introduce such a ban by imposing restrictions on this kind of attire.
The French Republic is a worldwide phenomenon in terms of maintaining secularity within its country while at the same time respecting different religions. This secularism is guaranteed by the Constitution itself. However, it should be remembered that the socio-political situation significantly differs from 1905, when the Separation of Churches and State (fr. Loi de séparation des Églises et de l’État) was adopted. Therefore, the adopted solutions, mechanisms or legal acts regulating particular elements of social life may not reflect the current reality. Growing migration, terrorist threats accompanied by clashes between adherents of different cultures result in a lack of space for respecting values.
This paper aims to comprehensively analyse the situation in the French Republic directly after the introduction of the regulation and to examine the current situation under the conditions of the statutory ban on face-covering in Europe. There is a close link between the traditions and religion of people arriving in their chosen country, wearing burqas, hijabs, and niqabs as part of their beliefs, and changing attitudes towards immigrants. The fact that cultural and ethnic diversity is constantly evolving in the French Republic means that the boundaries between communities are shifting, resulting, for instance, in clashes between adherents and various situations of conflict. It is a fundamental issue, especially in the context of dynamic changes in the world, the emergence of new types of threats, and modifications in migration policy. The analysis is significant because of the essence of respect for human and civil rights and the emphasis on egalitarianism and inclusiveness in the state while ensuring the security of its inhabitants.
The authors are aware of how sensitive the issue of religion is, and cultural differences have remained the subject of research by historians, anthropologists, and sociologists. At the same time, further consideration of the changes is crucial for understanding the needs of both continental residents and migrants. Presented scientific claims require further testing, as they cannot be considered definitively verified. They provide a subject for further consideration and a basis for building dialogue between believers of different religions and views.
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