When in Rome, do as the Romans do.
To this, I will say yes, a thousand times yes! And I strongly believe that this sentence is true in pretty much every situation: when you go to a foreign country, learn the language; when you choose to go and live away from home, respect the laws of the country you reside in. For the purpose of this post, I will only develop on the issue of women wearing the burkha and headscarves in France and the law that forbids it.
First of all, let me tell you that I agree with the fact that Muslim women should not wear the burkha in a secular country like France, just like I would not expect a Catholic girl to drag around an massive cross behind her. You will then understand that my motivations are not of racist nature. France, like most secular countries, guarantees the freedom of religion to everyone. I should hope so! Doing otherwise would just be blind intolerance and ignorance. So people are allowed to practice the religion they want, whenever they want. Yes. Just as long as it does not go against any fundamental French value, like women freedom and secularism. It is just like how France does not allow polygamy really, just respect the laws and customs! Easy. I wouldn’t expect people to adapt to me if I were to go live in a culturally different country!
Second of all and weirdly enough, to handle this issue, I don’t think that enforcing the law, or even the law itself is the best of methods. First because France might have to face nasty comments from the International Court of Law on the racist or sexist nature of the law. Ouch, we might want to avoid that. But also because I don’t think it is going to solve anything, it is just going to create more and more tensions. I would suggest (don’t get me wrong, I don’t know much about laws, governments and politics in general…) a stronger socialisation process when entering the country, to make sure that people adapt themselves to the customs. Not through force, but through education. I think it would be smoother than a law, fines and the police escorting you to the station.
Now to conclude on this point, I do understand that the law is there to make a point as it has not been enforced since it got through, but I still don’t think it is enough.