Posted by: nancycurteman | April 10, 2010

French National Identity and the Burqa

The burqa (a garment which covers the eyes with a mesh) and the niqab (a total body covering that leaves just the eyes exposed) have sparked an ongoing debate about French national identity.

Even President Nicolas Sarkozy got into the debate by maintaining, The full veil is contrary to the dignity of women. He would like to see a ban on the wearing of the burqa in public.

Those who oppose the ban insist many French Muslim women voluntarily wear the burqa as an expression of their faith and  a ban would deny Muslim women freedom of expression. They further maintain that ostracizing people for their beliefs should not be acceptable in a civilized society.

Supporters of the ban maintain the burqa is not a religious requirement of Islam, that it’s a cultural value from male dominated societies, and represents values contrary to those of France. They believe in the philosophy that “when in Rome do as the Romans do.” In other words, if Muslims want to live in France they should abide by the values and rules of French society. The public wearing of the burka is simply a political act that advances acceptance of the subservience of women.

Both sides have pretty firm positions. It will be interesting to see the final outcome of this fiery debate.

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