Those of us who stayed current over the summer will remember French President Sarkozy’s successful drive to ban full-face Islamic veils. Sarkozy cited human rights and national security as the impetus for this controversial legislation.
As the debate in France heated up I was surprised to learn that of the relatively few women in France wearing the veil, none interviewed were in support of Sarkozy’s efforts. Rather, they maintained their religious freedom was being violated and vowed to remain veiled, legal or not.
The idea of a universal human right is inherently ignorant and intolerant of the plurality of our global society. Veiled women in France have lost the right to express their faith over the assumption the veil is a violation of women’s rights.
Each society has its accepted norms and taboos. Human rights groups around the world condemn our use of capital punishment in Amercia and yet it remains a widely accepted use of punishment. The Chinese practice of one-child families and selective abortion seems abhorrent but serves a purpose that has seen China through great economic growth.
To quote Stan Marsh, “I get it now, I don’t get it.” The idea of universal condemns our planet to a monotonous societal existence. What we see as a gross violation of human rights has been cultured by our upbringing and the values our society taught us. All peoples have a ‘social contract’ and the burden lays on individual societies to regulate violations of their own sacred rights, not a universal doctrine that confines Earth to the views of philosophers and humanitarians who fail to account for economic, social and political rights as well.