Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Majesty of the State

A president badly in need of a victory has decided to apply the full majesty of the state to a menace feared by a majority of its citizens: the burqa (and the niqab). The Conseil d'État be damned. So here we go. One has to imagine the scene in advance. Who will be the first target? Will a surveillance team stake out the Gare du Nord or the Sunday market at Cergy? Will Eric Besson and Brice Hortefeux accompany the flics as they lay hands on the offending "agent of Islamism?" Will she be taken for a garde à vue and, in the name of equality of women and public security, be stripped of her robes and headgear, searched, photographed, and displayed on the evening news? Will she be hauled into court and required to appear with face uncovered before her ermine-clad judges? Will she then express gratitude to the state for emancipating her from her oppressive culture?

And Belgium will do the same. Then all eyes will turn to the European Court of Justice. But no matter what the learned judges decide, to many the behavior of these two states will resemble bullying: all the might of the state will be brought to bear on the weakest member of the community, whose offense consists only in firing the fantasies of her persecutors.