26 January 2010

France is debating a ban on the donning of full Muslim veils in public buildings, including schools, post offices, hospitals, and the like.
Last week [Sarkozy] called the niqab, the form of veil worn in France, “contrary to our values and to the ideals we have of women’s dignity”. Parliament is expected to act on the proposals in the spring.

If they become law women with covered faces would be refused public services such as transport, university classes and benefits.
France has the highest Muslim population in Europe, and Islam is the second largest religion there. France has made little secret of courting Muslims--a rapidly growing population compared to the declining birthrate among ethnic French--to help fill the workforce and pay taxes. It's common to see Muslim women in the streets in jeans and t-shirts with only their hair covered--less common to see full Muslim garb and niqab. But a growing number of fundamentalists are donning these, and it is beginning to alarm the French people. Two-thirds are against the full veil. Ever since Sarkozy's comment that "the burqa is not a religious sign, it is a sign of the subjugation, of the submission of women...it will not be welcome on our territory," and, perhaps bouyed by Switzerland's recent vote to ban minarets, France's parliament has had a heated debate over the possibility of banning this Muslim dress. A vote is expected in the Spring. Switzerland has expressed the possibility of also banning the burqa, following France's lead.

You will have, of course, your naysayers. One NPR commentator complains,
Sarkozy's real motives are to protect and preserve secular French culture. He wants to stop French identity from being Islamicized. In the process, Sarkozy is sending a very clear message to future Muslim immigrants: you want to move to France? Then be ready to let go of your ways, and take on ours.
How quickly these people catch on!

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