AnAmerican Muslim Woman’s Response to a French Burqa Ban
Earlier this week, French President Nicolas Sarkozy lambasted the burqa while voicing his support of lawmakers who seek to study the growing trend of burqas in the country and prohibit the wearing of the garment in France. Sarkozy stated that “in our country, we cannot accept that women be prisoners behind a screen, cut off from all social life, deprived of all identity.”
Still raw from the 2004 French hijab ban that prohibited the headscarf and other religious paraphernalia from being worn in public schools, some of France’s five million Muslims are speaking out against the potential legislation. The French Council for Muslim Religion, for instance, warned that probing the burqa issue would only stigmatize Muslims further. Muslim leaders around the world have also voiced their opposition to Sarkozy’s remarks, and cautioned against such a ban.
But as Sarkozy declared to the French Parliament, “the problem of the burqa is not a religious problem, it is a problem of the dignity of women. It is a symbol of subservience, of submission. The burqa will not be welcome in our French republic.” However, France is a secular nation and, as such, the French government has no right to espouse interpretations of any religion. As a French law on the separation of church and state reads, “The Republic neither recognizes, nor salaries, nor subsidizes any religion.” Why, then, does the French government presume the right to delve into theological discussions of Islam? Continue reading