Sarkozy supports burqa ban

President Nicolas Sarkozy says that burqas are “not welcome” in France, and supports a ban on women wearing the burqa in public.

[He] said the Muslim burqa would not be welcome in France, calling the full-body religious gown a sign of the “debasement” of women.
In the first presidential address to parliament in 136 years, Sarkozy faced critics who fear the burqa issue could stigmatize France’s Muslims and said he supported banning the garment from being worn in public.
“In our country, we cannot accept that women be prisoners behind a screen, cut off from all social life, deprived of all identity,” Sarkozy said to extended applause at the Chateau of Versailles, southwest of Paris.
“The burqa is not a religious sign, it’s a sign of subservience, a sign of debasement — I want to say it solemnly,” he said. “It will not be welcome on the territory of the French Republic.”

Banning the burqa doesn’t further women’s rights – it limits them. Now, obviously there’s a difference in Islamic women’s dress from the hijab to the burqa – but legally banning any of them erases all agency from Muslim women. (I’m especially wary of Sarkozy’s comments and this potential ban given that France banned headscarves from public schools in 2004.)
If you’re interested in hearing Muslim women talking about the hijab, here are a couple of interesting vids.
UPDATE: Jill has more.
Related posts: Only citizenship for some: France denies citizenship to Muslim woman
Malaysian women speak out on hijab

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103 Comments

  1. Mina
    Posted June 23, 2009 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

    “I’d like to point out that a woman who would original wear a burqa wouldn’t wear a t-shirt because it violates Islamic codes of modesty.”
    Are you sure?
    Today I saw a woman wearing hijab and a short-sleeved blouse (and baring most of her arms, unlike the t-shirt-over-turtleneck style I sometimes saw in high school), and she wasn’t the first woman I’ve seen in person doing that either. I’ve also seen the hijab-and-t-shirt combo in news photos out of Indonesia.
    Meanwhile, my mom says that in Iran when she was a girl some women wore chadors in the morning and covered up less in the afternoon. The idea there was “Do I want to wait until I get spruced up and dressed up before I get my newspaper hot off the press and my pastries hot out of the oven? Nah, I’ll just throw on a chador, go to the newsstand and the bakery, come home, have breakfast, take a shower…”
    So, the same woman wearing burqa and a t-shirt, without changing her beliefs before changing clothes, isn’t so far-fetched either.

  2. rtrav85
    Posted June 24, 2009 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    here’s an excellent article that outlines both sides of the debate. it’s also very interesting that Mohammed Moussaoui, the President of France’s Representative Muslim Council, supported Sarkozy’s call for a ban on the burqa. http://www.mindreign.com/en/mindshare/World-Politics-and-Current-Events/Sarkozy-3a-e2-80-9cMuslim-Burqas-are-Unwelcome-e2-80-9d/sl34045952bp295cpp5pn1.html

  3. bifemmefatale
    Posted June 24, 2009 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    “To raise the subject like this, via a parliamentary committee, is a way of stigmatizing Islam and the Muslims of France,” Mohammed Moussaoui, the head of the French Council for the Muslim Religion, told AFP last week.
    “We are shocked by the idea parliament should be put to work on such a marginal issue.”
    http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/europe/06/23/france.burkas/index.html?eref=edition
    I see no proof that Moussaoui is supportive of this ban. Got a citation?

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