Posted by: Staff | 03.11.2010

Burqa Ban

LUCY HICKS ’10

In the summer of 2009, the French government began to discuss if women should be allowed to wear the burqa or other full body coverings in public areas of the country. This discussion began just days after the president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, said that the burqa was “not welcome” in France. As a reference point, there are about 3.5 Muslims living in France, and according to government data, of these people, only 1,900 women wear these full body coverings. 
    The French government says that this ban is not related to religion but is “an issue of a woman’s freedom and dignity,” said Sarkozy to lawmakers. According to CNN, “This is not a religious symbol. It is a sign of subservience.” France has a large focus on secularism in their state, to the point where religions symbols, such as crosses, and clothing, such as headscarves, are banned from schools. France wants equality between all of its citizens, and believes that the wearing of the burqa is interfering with this goal.


    Now, six months later, the debate about banning the burqa is still occurring but in a different form. The government has become serious about this ban and has brainstormed several different solutions for removing full body coverings like the burqa and the niqab from public areas in France. They have considered a fine for all women wearing the burqa for about 750 euros of the equivalent value of 1,080 dollars. Others who find this fine to be too steep have proposed a partial ban on the full body coverings, suggesting that it not be made illegal, but instead having public officials ask people to remove it. Either way, the burqa would be “banned” from public areas, such as public transportation, schools, post offices, and government buildings.
     But what do the women actually wearing the burqas think of this ban? Many are shocked and rather annoyed that the French Government is paying such attention to a marginal issue such as this. Many also say that the ban itself is rather ironic. “You are going to isolate these women and then you can’t say that it is Islam that has denied them freedom, but that the law has,” said Mabrouka Boujnah to CNN reporter Jim Bittermann. No matter what your opinion, it is a very controversial issue, and will no doubt get more press coverage as time goes on.

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Responses

  1. Interesting to compare the French controversy to the one in Switzerland over banning the construction of new minarets (ironically, the French parts of the country opposed the ban). Neither effort seems likely to be effective in curbing Muslim extremism.

  2. Oops! I meant to sign my comment above! (Should commenters be required to leave a name — even if it’s just a web “handle” — and an email?)


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