Zineb el-Rhazoui: The Veil is Not a Choice

Zineb el-Rhazoui is a French writer who was born in Morocco and apostatized from Islam when she was young. She was on the staff of Charlie Hebdo at the time of the massacre in 2015, but was on holiday and thus escaped the fate of her colleagues. Jordan Bardella is the spokesman for National Rally, the party of Marine Le Pen (formerly the National Front).

The two videos below show excerpts from an appearance by Ms. El-Rhazoui and Mr. Bardella in a panel discussion on French television. The occasion was unusual, in that it allowed two “far-right” participants to express their views — normally there is only a single token representative of the Right, who is ganged up on by the rest of the participants.

The topic of discussion in these videos is the national controversy over the wearing of the Islamic veil by the mother of a child visiting a local parliament on a school trip. Since this program aired, the French Senate passed a ban on the wearing of the Islamic veil on school trips, but the bill is not expected to pass in the lower house.

Many thanks to Ava Lon for the translations, and to Vlad Tepes for the subtitling.

Video #1:

Video #2:

Video transcript #1:

00:04   Welcome. Our editor today is Zineb El-Rhazoui,
00:08   and our guest is the vice president of National Rally, Jordan Bardella.
00:12   Good day. —Good day. —Welcome, since one of your controversies
00:17   in the regional Council of Bourgogne Franche-Comté, the debate about the wearing of hijab,
00:20   keeps being brought up and it’s in the headlines this morning.
00:28   Jordan Bardella your party, the National Rally,
00:33   put the debate concerning the hijab back on the table in a somewhat clumsy way.
00:37   You yourself admitted it — we will get back to that in a minute, but first:
00:41   a school trip cancelled because of the veil,
00:45   so it’s a new event, two days ago, the firefighters at the fire station
00:50   in Creil in Oise department refused to accept a visit to a school, giving as reason the fact
00:53   that two chaperones, parents of students, were wearing hijab; the municipal SDIS
00:57   talks about a mistake of interpretation: the officer thought he was doing the right thing.
01:01   His objective was to apply the rule in good faith; I think that it was an interpretative mistake.
01:05   The firefighters — I just asked that question of Zineb — were the firefighters
01:09   right to apologize? —It shows anyway, in this case, a legal uncertainty.
01:17   And it confirms, I think, the urgency for legislation.
01:22   I mean, that the participants on-site, whether government functionaries, or firefighters, or
01:26   even the teaching staff, are totally helpless faced with the politico-religious demands.
01:30   Voilà, it’s not only religious demands any more. Today there are religious,
01:34   but also political demands, and today there is a legal uncertainty, and I think it’s time to
01:39   legislate them. —Doesn’t it show above all ignorance of the law? Because the law, except for
01:42   certain decisions we just discussed, but the law permits wearing the veil on school trips.
01:46   So isn’t it simply ignorance of the law rather than legal uncertainty?
01:50   No, no. Let’s not be naïve. Let’s not be naïve. And I think that
01:55   in everyday life the teachers especially are helpless. Voilà. And the state has no courage
01:59   to take measures, and the state has no courage to enact voting laws.
02:03   They prefer to leave CEOs in legal uncertainty when faced with politico-religious demands.
02:07   They prefer to let the headmasters decide
02:11   whether yes or no, during a school trip, it’s possible or not to wear a veil. So in reality
02:15   there is a legal uncertainty today, and behind what might have looked like a
02:19   debate, there’ a basic subject, I mean there is a major problem today with
02:23   political Islam and with the veil in French society, and it’s time to legislate.
02:26   Zineb, would you also call it a “legal uncertainty”? —Of course. Absolutely. There is
02:32   a legal uncertainty in the sense that the leaders of this country
02:36   clearly don’t want to speak up. One would think there is some sort of paralysis,
02:40   a fear! We are in something almost inquisitional
02:44   concerning those subjects. The fear of speaking up and saying what one thinks.
02:48   But there isn’t only the legal uncertainty. There’s also the non-enforcement
02:52   of existing laws. —It’s mostly that! Because a legal uncertainty is when there is
02:56   a hole in the racquet. Here, there’s no hole in the racquet. The law is clear enough: the chaperones
03:00   can wear the veil —No! No! No! The law does not allow that. —But then if the law
03:03   is not adapted, and should be changed; that’s another thing,
03:06   but there’s no hole in the racquet. —Well, you can see that we don’t agree in the interpretation
03:09   of this law. When I said the texts aren’t being applied, I was obviously thinking about the law
03:13   forbidding the covering of one’s face in public spaces. The ‘niqabed ones’ are
03:17   almost the only ones to cheerfully break that law, only to go then and complain
03:21   to the European Court of Human Rights, as if France were a country…
03:25   as if France were the worst country, where women’s rights are concerned.
03:29   All right. Second subject: the 2004 law:
03:33   Normally, the 2004 law, if it were correctly interpreted,
03:37   the 2004 law made the extension of the obligation
03:41   of neutrality of public services, for the users of the schools, considering that the user is
03:45   a minor child, that it’s not a citizen yet but a becoming a citizen,
03:50   and that he or she had to be protected from attempts at proselytization,
03:54   precisely what the ‘veiled ones’ are doing! Watch out! The veil is
03:58   also a symbol . The attempts at proselytization,
04:02   political or ideological. It’s not normal that having made the effort of adding
04:07   this extension [requiring the absence of religious symbols], then an exception would be made
04:10   for the accompanying grownups. I would like to remind you that school trips aren’t
04:14   just strolls through the park, it’s not going to the beach,
04:18   it’s not going to the ice cream parlor. It’s classes that are part of school, that are
04:21   being supervised by grownups who are in addition to the teacher.
04:25   So why would the teacher be neutral, the children, the students be neutral,
04:28   but NOT the accompanying people [chaperones]? It’s absurd! —It’s true, what you say.
04:35   It’s an aberration that a school trip wouldn’t be a continuity of the school and class space.
04:39   Voilà, of the class and of the laws that apply inside school. But really,
04:43   why nothing is being done? Because today the fear of amalgam [associating Islam with terrorism],
04:47   the fear of questioning the imaginary “coexist” today creates the fear
04:52   of acting. And we are scared of acting because we are scared of being accused, pointing fingers.
04:56   The firefighter is pointing his finger a little by saying: “I don’t want you in my station”
04:59   — but the firefighter is saying yes, because the law is not adapted any more, and that today
05:04   faced with demands that are increasingly heavy, in particular in a number of places,
05:08   especially in a number of neighborhoods; well, the current legal arsenal isn’t adapted any longer to
05:12   what today looks like an desire to secede from the country at large. —The first
05:16   school trip we were talking about a couple of days ago, it was about that veiled young woman
05:20   whom Julien Odoule, the representative from the National Rally, asked to leave the room
05:24   at the local council, while she was chaperoning a school trip.
05:27   She chose to give her first interview
05:30   to the website of the Collective Against Islamophobia in France. Here’s what she says:
05:33   “How am I doing… tired, I’m scared of everything, I have chills, and I’m shaking.
05:37   Sincerely, they have destroyed my life. I am a grownup.
05:41   I still can put up with all that.” First reaction
05:45   about this quotation. “They destroyed…” —When, when
05:49   you give your first reaction to the CAIF [Collective Against Islamophobia in France], which is
05:53   a militant Islamist organization, which supported
05:58   burkini provocations, which supports the burka,
06:02   which supports the ending of the 2004 law that forbids
06:06   religious symbols in schools, which supported in court a number
06:10   of radical imams, then the masks are off. Voilà! The masks are off!
06:14   And in reality… — since the provocations… — no, the problem with the Islamists — is it from
06:17   the beginning, in your opinion, a provocation by that woman?
06:20   The problem is… well, in any case she’s fueling the thesis that…
06:23   Look, the problem with the Islamists is that they are able to at the same time
06:26   to commit the worst violence and claim the worst victimization. And that in reality,
06:30   with this testimony given to CAIF, the masks are off.
06:35   And that in reality victimization is a strategy that is being used
06:39   by the Islamists to infuse this ideology in society. —Did Julian Odoule…
06:43   There, honestly, honestly…
06:47   Well, the scene was a little hectic. I was the first who said that to
06:51   polemicize in front of children, perhaps not only in front of one’s own child, but in front of
06:55   children it was perhaps not the right place to do politics, and so on, but finally, you shouldn’t
06:59   turn it into a big deal either. You shouldn’t exaggerate either. —But, Jordan Bardella,
07:03   …if you wear this garment you have to assume the cultural vision that is implies. —Allow me
07:08   to go back to what you said, when you said “no need to make a big deal of that.” Let’s remember
07:12   that, regardless of whether you consider it a humiliation or not, we aren’t going to polemicize
07:16   whether or not one should wear a veil in that situation, but you know that the image
07:20   of that veiled mother comforting her child became a sort of Pietà,
07:24   a sort of Madonna and Child, a picture
07:28   that became a sort of Rosa Parks for people who feel humiliated, because one form of humiliation
07:32   isn’t recognized. And the problem is that before we had those who were for Charlie,
07:36   those who were against Charlie. And today, with this story, we have changed. I mean, there are
07:40   those who support this woman and those who think that this isn’t a humiliation. And you,
07:44   do you recognize, regardless of the content, but do you recognize that concerning the form,
07:48   that certain Muslims can feel a type of humiliation?
07:53   I, I, no! I don’t have this view, because of course, of course,
07:57   it moves me to see a kid crying in the arms of his mom. And this is the same for everybody, but…
08:01   No, Julien Odoule doesn’t give rat’s a**. I asked him. —I mean everybody, but
08:05   I mean, of course you can be moved before that, but WHO IS RESPONSIBLE?
08:09   Are those the people who point out the rise of Islamist fundamentalism in society, which they
08:13   fight everyday? Or are those the Islamists who are using women and children when they need them?
08:17   I’m only talking to you about this situation. —Yes, but if we go case by case, we DO NOT think.
08:21   In order to think you need to think globally. And when you have 66% of the French people
08:26   who in polls are telling you that today a veil isn’t possible
08:30   on school trips, it clearly means that we are faced with such communitarization [Balkanization]
08:34   of society today, to the point where we can’t weeping and emotional any longer.
08:38   We have to act. Of course one is never insensitive to the tears of a child, but
08:42   actually I think that she is ALSO, that she is ALSO responsible for it.

Video transcript #2:

08:46   Zineb El-Rhazoui! —I’d like to react to the question of Mounia [Haddad, veiled school chaperone].
08:51   So when we are being told that: “We made a child cry in front of his mother,
08:55   I would like to invert things: This woman PREFERS to make her child cry rather
08:59   than to remove her veil. Again, voilà, she herself, because we are being told —She, herself…
09:03   I would like to continue. She herself, she PREFERS to make her child cry
09:07   rather than remove her veil. Keeping her veil is more important to her than the tears of her child.
09:12   When you make this comparison with Charlie, when you say: “Before we had ‘je suis Charlie’,
09:16   ‘je ne suis pas Charlie’; now there are people for or against this.” But not at all! First
09:19   I want to say that there were deaths at Charlie; here there was no blood.
09:23   There was nothing at all. There were a couple of child’s tears and nothing more.
09:26   But do admit that it became a symbol —No, voilà. She is a symbol;
09:29   she is a symbol for those who look to attach themselves to hollow
09:33   symbols of victimhood, who are symbols that don’t tell us their names. This woman is
09:38   an Islamist militant as shown by her confiding in CAIF [Collective Against Islamophobia in France].
09:41   There’s no need to advertise them, that’s what it means. It reinforces
09:45   their feeling of victimhood. —Voilà, truly, truly, to conclude, my last point is to say
09:50   I’m thinking about the orphans from the attack against the Police Prefecture of Paris, about whom
09:54   nobody is talking! Whose parents had their throats slit by the Islamist throat-slicing butcher
09:58   Michaël Harpon, and who [the orphans] have been completely removed from the debate in order
10:02   to talk about a kid with yet another story of hijab and of victimization! I’m not falling
10:06   for that! I can see this woman for what she is: an Islamist with her black veil,
10:10   who came to impose her veil on us in France by playing the victim.
10:14   And I think that the strategy of emotion, the strategy of tears, it’s in fact the best
10:18   favor one could do for the Islamist fundamentalists. —So I’ll continue telling you what she’s saying
10:22   in that interview, but we’ll continue talking about it. —One word: I heard from a tribune yesterday
10:27   from 60 personalities, from… —We’ll be talking about it in a minute, let me direct the interview…
10:30   —all right, I’m letting you… and I’ll continue later. —This woman is recounting
10:33   the reaction of children: “I have always argued against this discourse, and there,
10:36   when we left the regional council, they came towards me,
10:39   to tell me: See? We told you, they [the ethnic French] don’t like us.”
10:43   Then she added: “Today I have a negative opinion of what is called ‘the Republic’.
10:47   I think that the Education Minister said something shameful
10:51   when he was talking about the veil.” So what did Jean-Michel Blanquer say? We just heard him,
10:55   because he reaffirmed his thought on the France-Inter [radio].
11:00   Jean-Michel Blanquer says that the veil isn’t desirable in our society.
11:04   I imagine that you agree with him in this point. —Yes, I do agree with him in this finding.
11:08   Now, why isn’t he taking it to the limit of his logic?
11:12   So at that point if the veil isn’t desirable, in particular on school trips,
11:16   why doesn’t he forbid it? In reality today you have
11:20   more and more Muslims who think that — again, the polls tell us that,
11:25   I mean those aren’t even any more things that we are saying [National Rally], those are things that
11:29   everybody says — that the laws of god, the law of Shariah, that Islamic law
11:33   is superior to the laws of the Republic. And in fact the hijab doesn’t belong to French culture,
11:37   like it or not; I mean the Republic
11:41   is there to create respect for our laws, it is here to make respect the principle of secularism.
11:45   And today secularism is being bullied by Islamist fundamentalists. And the weaker we are
11:49   the stronger they are. Now one more word: because, concerning the emotion strategy,
11:52   I heard yesterday about 60 people from show business… — we will talk about it,
11:57   we will talk about it in a minute. Jordan Bardella, let us… we still have a half an hour together.
12:01   I would like to go back to what Zineb was saying before, that the woman is imposing her veil on us.
12:05   She is WEARING her veil. How is she IMPOSING it on us? SHE ISN’T IMPOSING IT ON ANYBODY!
12:10   Could we, please, think that a number of those women who wear the veil,
12:14   it’s because they live their religion like that and that they wish to wear a veil?
12:18   Could we, please, think, for a moment, that those women do it by CHOICE? — All right, I
12:22   can’t prevent myself — when seeing a veil — from thinking about Iranian women who do not have
12:26   ANY choice, and who are committing SUICIDE right now and IMMOLATE THEMSELVES BY FIRE
12:30   in order to be able to remove that COVER, in fact, that PRISON is imposed on them…
12:34   But isn’t France there, precisely, to let everybody… —Let me finish, let me finish.
12:37   I’m thinking about the Saudi women, I’m thinking about Afghani women
12:40   who are being shot if they don’t wear it, I’m thinking about all
12:43   my female friends, who today still live in the working-class neighborhoods of Casablanca,
12:46   who are being cursed as whores if they don’t wear it, I’m thinking about young women
12:49   in French ethnic neighborhoods, and I’m thinking about the Algerian feminist
12:52   Wassyla Tamzali, who always said: “The veil isn’t a choice.
12:55   It’s an ACQUIESCENCE. It’s DIFFERENT. We cannot be told
12:59   that this veil is a choice. Otherwise, if it were a choice, why
13:03   those women don’t remove it from 10am to noon? And then
13:08   put it back when they go to pray? Voilà. —Because they choose to not remove it!
13:12   They are GLUED to their veil! That’s the problem! When they tell us that:
13:16   “We cannot work for the government with our veil!” On the contrary, ladies! You can work
13:20   for the government, WITHOUT your veil! But the problem is that they are GLUED to it!
13:24   Because if they remove it, well, Allah will punish them and throw them into Hell, so…

One thought on “Zineb el-Rhazoui: The Veil is Not a Choice

  1. The whole fuss is entirely absurd.

    First of all, the so-called “Islamic veil” (Koran 24, 31), has been translated by Luxenberg as “qu’elles s’attachent leur ceinture autour de la taille // that they attach their girdle around the waist”, in: “Le voile islamique”, published in “Cités”, Presses Universitaires de France, Paris 3/2004. +

    Secondly and most important, a “prophet/nabi/rasul Muhammad” never existed. I am in possession of the 8 books (5473 pages richly illustrated) hitherto published by Verlag Hans Schiler, Berlin in a series called “Inârah” (http://inarah.net/). On p. 851 sq in “Die Entstehung einer Weltreligion IV” one can read that “the Koran had at least thirty authors, at most one hundred, but most probably around fifty.” Here it must be emphasized that the author makes use of a MATHEMATICAL discipline, the so-called
    Code Theory that “(…) enables the functioning of computers, the Internet, image compression for digital pictures, multi-channel TV-reception, and many other indispensable technologies of the modern world. (…) In conducting my research for my thesis, I used the branch of code theory that applies to written texts. It is called Analysis of Text Data (ATD). […] The name of Muhammad was introduced in the Koran by a single author, distinct from the other authors who contributed to the Koran. Muhammad was mentioned for the first time 60 years after his (so-called, RF) death, but only one artifact before the ninth century states that he was a prophet, although not superior to all others but rather on a par with Jesus. He is usually described as the founding prophet of Islam, superior to all others, not earlier than 200 years after his (so-called, RF) death.”

    It is impossible, hence, to make use of “computers, the Internet, image compression for digital pictures, multi-channel TV-reception” and at the same time, believe that a “prophet Muhammad” did exist.

    It is obvious then, even to the most obtuse mind, that a non-existant person is incapable, by definition, to issue any prescriptions or laws or commandments whatsoever.

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