The story carries the headline: France: Catholic Church Rejects Ban on Full-Face Veils

Except the “Catholic Church” did no such thing. The Bishop in charge of “interreligious dialogue” in France made a statement, but his opinion is not the opinion of the Catholic church.

“If we want Christian minorities in Muslim majority countries to enjoy all their rights, we should in our country respect the rights of all believers to practice their faith,” said Bishop Michel Santier, the top French Catholic official for interreligious dialogue.

France is questioning the covering of the face in Muslim women because this practice is a pre Muslim custom that devised veils for upper class women.

What is new that the custom is being spread via radical clergy into areas where facial veiling was unknown in the past. It is now being imposed on women by husbands, immans, and gangs that go around terrorizing girls who won’t comply… Indeed, the case that brought it to the attention of the public was the denial of citizenship to a man who ordered his French born wife to wear the veil.

This coercion is a step backward for women, and has nothing to do with Islam, which only imposes modest clothing on their members.

But what makes the Bishop’s remarks so foolish is  that the same twits who are spreading a radical hate filled version of Islam into that religion are the same twits in Saudi Arabia that won’t allow Christians to worship in their own country.

As Ralph Peters dares to write:

…Saudi Arabia’s No. 1 export isn’t oil but the Wahhabi fanaticism that remains the basis of Islamist terror. It doesn’t do the least bit of good, (to say this) since the Saudis have bought up so much influence in Washington that we might as well add a minaret to the US Capitol.

Al Qaeda was merely the instrument of 9/11. Saudi bigotry, fanaticism and hate-mongering fostered it. Saudi funding made those attacks possible. And Saudi money continues to spread hatred wherever there’s a Muslim community.

Yes, the irony is that Saudis can fund “Islamic think tanks” at Georgetown so that their propaganda can be posted in the Washington Post, but that doesn’t mean my cousin is allowed to bring her rosary into their country when she works there as a nurse.

The Vatican has been negotiating for years to allow them some religious freedom, to no avail.

So who cares if a couple dozen Pinoy nurses can’t practice their religion, after all, they are getting paid, aren’t they?

Ah, but the dirty little secret is that the Gulf states can’t exist without their foreign workers, and most of the Gulf states allow them religious freedom.

Kuwait? No problem. Dubai? No problem.  Qatar? No problem.

Saudi? Nope, no churches allowed, and you had better be subtle if you hold worship services in your apartment.

Nor is this blatent discrimination only against Christians and foreigners: Local Saudi Shiites complain of low grade persecution of their version of Islam.

And we aren’t talking about only a couple thousand folks. There are 1.2 million Filipinos working in Saudi Arabia, and at least 80 percent there are Christian. There are also many Keralan (Indian) Christians in that country, perhaps another 400 thousand people. This does not include Christians from Africa, Lebanon, Syria or Korea.

So why don’t their own countries complain? They don’t dare to: those working there rely on the jobs, and often help support their families at home.

So having a Catholic bishop pretend that letting gangs intimidate women into wearing the veil in France will make things easier for Christians in Saudi Arabia, where official discrimination is the norm, or will change the mind of radical gangs in Muslim countries who attack Christian churches despite government laws protecting freedom of religion,then he is being naive.

Maybe he should figure out who is doing the intimidation, and why. You don’t give in to bullies.

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Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. She writes about human rights at Makaipablog.

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