French president Nicholas Sarkozy wants to ban burqas–the head-to-toe covering worn by some very conservative Muslim women. The burqa, he says, is a symbol of “enslavement,” adding: “I want to say solemnly that it will not be welcome on our territory.”
Sarkozy has never been one to doubt his own infallibility on all matters, or to worry himself about feminist causes when it comes to his personal life–tossing aside his wife and the mother of their two children for another woman, then divorcing her, and finally taking up with international sex kitten Carla Bruni.
But France’s secularism, or laicite’, is virtually a religion, and this could be seen as a religious war–though Sarkozy denies this:
“The issue of the burqa is not a religious issue. It is a question of freedom and of women’s dignity. The burqa is not a religious sign. It is a sign of the subjugation, of the submission, of women.”
Well, read up on the French Revolution, or rather its ugly aftermath, and the efforts to establish a French religion of rationalism, and you’ll see Sarkozy is talking through his chapeau. The problem is he favors Christianity, specifically the traditions of French Catholicism. So what would he say about the full habit? It’s easy to denigrate Islamic traditions, and his speech was well-received. No surprise, as France has a large and increasingly conservative Muslim population.
But is there enough difference in these two coverings that one would be legal and one outlawed?