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.
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