Last month the French government began a formal inquiry into the issue of whether Muslim women should be allowed to wear the burqa—the garment which covers them from head to toe—in their country.
According to a recent article from CNN.com:
“A cross-party panel of 32 lawmakers will investigate whether the traditional Muslim garment poses a threat to the secular nature of the French constitution. They are due to report back with their recommendations in six months.”
French President Nicolas Sarkozy had this to say on the subject:
“The problem of the burka is not a religious problem. This is an issue of a woman’s freedom and dignity. This is not a religious symbol. It is a sign of subservience; it is a sign of lowering. I want to say solemnly, the burka is not welcome in France.”
I have so many thoughts, feelings, and questions about this issue:
- Certainly the burqa is sometimes used as a form of “lowering” or “subservience” within the Muslim culture. But what about the women who want to wear the burqa? Do they not have the right to choose?
- I think Sarkozy is wrong: This is a religious issue. And an ethnic issue. And a gender issue.
- I’m not sure I believe that one of Sarkozy’s highest concerns is the dignity of women.
- Doesn’t this feel like the European French are just trying to create a way to marginalize French Muslims? Or at the very least punish them for not assimilating into the majority culture? I mean, really: does Parliament truly believe the burqa “poses a threat to the secular nature of the French constitution”?
Thoughts anyone? Should the burqa be banned?