On air: Have the French done Muslim women a favour?

UPDATE 1115GMT: the report has now been published.

So it looks like there won’t be an outright ban on wearing the burka and niqab in France after all.

One senior lawmaker had suggested there should be a 750 euro fine for people caught in the street wearing the full covering, worn by an estimated 2,000 Muslim women in the country.

A report due out today is expected to recommend a ban limited to “public services” only.

In practice, it seems the recommendation will stop women who are wearing the burka from drawing child benefit or getting on a bus.

There’s already speculation about why the final recommendation will be a watered-down version of the proposal above.

President Sarkozy has merely said the dress is “not welcome” in France, where there has been passionate debate on the subject; polls suggest the majority favours an outright ban.

Is this a good compromise? Should the law go further? Should governments stay out of telling people how to dress? Or should taxfunded services be denied to people who don’t conform to a dress code approved by the majority?

214 Responses to “On air: Have the French done Muslim women a favour?”

  1. 1 JanB
    January 26, 2010 at 11:34

    Good, now burqa-clad people women won’t be treated differently from ski-mask wearing people. It’s a great victory for the bank-robbers and nudists who were discriminated against just because they didn’t have a fancy book of fairy tales to explain their extreme clothing styles.

    Yes, I can compare ski-masks to burqa’s:

    • 2 Walter L Johnson
      January 26, 2010 at 19:30

      There are a lot of french fashions I don’t approve of, but bans on burqa and any other form of clothing and head fashion in public that defeat facial recognition security software and clothing or headwear beyond clear physical need that hide a case of dynamite should be banned. The mistake is to ban those items by name.

      Need is facial protection while skiing on a cold windy day at a ski area, and such other obvious winter circumstances. The problem with traditional clothing for Muslim women is that it has been used to hide men on the run and conceal even their gender besides their face. Women have also been used as involuntary suicide bombers with the clothing adding a lot of explosive capacity. These cases may be infrequent, but they are enough to change traditions.

    • January 26, 2010 at 19:36

      Whether I personally approve niqab or burqa or not, this is a woman’s choice which should be respected. Just like in the West a woman has her right to wear miniskirts, a Muslim woman’s right should be equally respected. Wearing niqab or burqa has nothing to do with extremism or fundamentalism. Moreover, niqab or burqa has been worn for centuries in the Muslim countries. This French Parliamentary Committee’s verdict of banning burqa or niqab is one of the manifestations of Islamophobia and a political issue and has nothing to do with Muslim woman’s right .

    • January 26, 2010 at 19:45

      I believe that Muslim women should have a choice of whether to wear the niqab or not and this right should not be denied by any government which claims to respect human rights. France has chosen an un-democratic to deny Muslim women their rights to wear the niqab. I hope other countries especially in Europe do not follow the same path the French have adopted.

      • January 27, 2010 at 12:29

        Mohammed notes that women in Britain can wear the mini-skirt if they wish and so claims that they should have the freedom to wear the Burqa if they so choose. Why then can women not wear mini-skirts in Saudi Arabia without the risk of being beaten up by the religious police, generally abused and even jailed. If the women of Islam choose to live in what is efectively a secular state then presumably they accept the culture and rules of the secular state.

  2. 7 Paul Phillips
    January 26, 2010 at 11:57

    How can a country that supposedly invented liberty pass a law saying what can and can’t be worn. I personally find the niqab offensive in our society but as long as it is the choice of the wearer and not being forced on them, who am I to say that they can’t. I bet they find some of our clothes offensive eg mini dresses and women not wearing headgear.

    • 8 Sarah
      January 26, 2010 at 19:44

      We, as a people, don’t allow female genital mutilation or foot binding. Both things that contributed to the subjugation of women at the hands of men. Wearing a burqa is supposedly a woman’s personal decision, but is one forced upon them by men in the guise of religion. Anything that puts restrictions on a certain group of people and not another should not be allowed in a “free” society.

      • January 28, 2010 at 15:15

        Sarah is correct. As all societies progress from wherever they currently are, the idea that self-subjugation is somehow a viable “choice” becomes harder and harder to swallow. When you are given “minimal alternate choice” (“madam, should I send my roof repairman to give you an estimate on Tuesday or Thursday”), you are really being given no choice at all. You only believe you are exercising “choice” but in reality the culture police are making it for you.

        If the men in places where women are ritually mutilated by having their clitoris removed or where women are coerced if not forced to become invisible behind black cloth…if the men of those cultures would release their innate fear of women’s equality then their culture would progress to a higher level.

        Where 50% of the population is prevented from full participation in the culture backwardness is bound to result.

        (Read me on facebook)

    • January 28, 2010 at 15:59

      Well, actually you can trace the origins of “liberty” further back to the “Golden age of Pericles” in “ancient” Greece. And in that BCE (“before the common era”, a more contemporary term to express the multi-cultural understanding that human eras are not simply Christian, to be designated with BC and AD (before Christ and the Latin for “year of our lord”).

      That said it is still the case that when a society like the French perceive that the greater good is being infringed upon by a small minority then they have a right and a duty to defend the rights of the majority. This is a function of “Utilitarianism”; the greater good for the greater number.

      When the greater number can exercise real choice in what the say, think, and do (the category where the clothing you wear is described) then to sanction the absence of real choice to any member of that society is not appropriate.

      So far only the more superficial question of clothing is being addressed here. It would be very worthwhile to delve into the deeper questions of freedom of thought and freedom of action . In some places the populace is not allowed to proclaim any other belief/religion than Islam. In still other places women are prohibited from that freedom we in the West so dearly treasure, the right to drive our cars.

      Women have been and are denied the right to an education. We have been systematically prevented from pursuing careers (other than motherhood) in these cultures. The French are defending freedom with their stand against oppression and coercion. Vive la France.

  3. January 26, 2010 at 12:00

    What will the governments do with the collected fines. It is estimated that there are 2000 women who wear the burka. 750 Euro fine for each of the wearer of the burka means the collection of 1,5 million Euro. Will it help create jobs?.

  4. 13 Roberto
    January 26, 2010 at 12:03

    RE “” A report due out today is expected to recommend a ban limited to “public services” only. “”

    ———– A kick the can down the road moment og compromise in a classic clash of cultures.

    Oh, the irony of the burka co-joined at the hip with gay marriage and every other deliberately divisive issue that only serve to divide mean spirited peoples in acrimony rather than focus on general consensus policies that enhance the public well being.

    Small wonder mankind is backsliding into the primordial muck of mindless competition for space. ” Big Stupid Useless Brains, RIP ” to be the grave marker for human development.

  5. 14 username
    January 26, 2010 at 12:13

    “I bet they find some of our clothes offensive eg mini dresses and women not wearing headgear.”

    There’s nothing stopping them from moving to Islamic countries

    • 15 Amber Collins
      January 26, 2010 at 13:45

      Right- nothing but the wars, poverty and outright violence against women. Finding mini skirts offensive is an opinion- just as non-Islamics seeing the burka as offensive is an opinion. If that is how a woman chooses to show her devotion I think it’s just fine. However, if it’s not her choice, then a burka becomes a burden. Banning it in public places is a ludacris proposition. What are they to do? Strip once they cross the threshhold? It would be a gross overstepping of boundries for the state to impose that type of regulation.

    • 16 Chintan in Houston
      January 26, 2010 at 15:25

      @ username

      If you find burka offensive just look away. Don’t you think that rule applys to you as well.

      The commect that you make has a preconcived notion that every Muslim who lives in France is not acitizen of France but they are foreigners, which in fact is not true.

  6. 17 zaii
    January 26, 2010 at 12:22

    why should we be to judge what women should wear and what they should not?
    its there choice to wear the borqa and they should be allowed to do so. its every persons right. like how they find our minis insulting we feel about the borqa. so what? that does not mean we should stop wearing mini’s etc. thats from my view.

  7. 18 Norseman65
    January 26, 2010 at 12:28

    I am surprised that there as yet no comments on this very important issue which affects every western Society.
    This isn’t a racial or religious issue, the Burka is not a requirement of Islamic religious law, it is a personal one.
    However if I, as a non muslim, tried to enter a bank or airport or just about anywhere, completely covered up in this manner, I would immediately be stopped by police or security guards as a threat and Muslims wearing the Burka should realise that.
    There is also the fundamental question that every westerner asks and that is, if people want to live in a non Islamic state, why do they want to impose islamic rules (and in this case – non Islamic rules)
    If I go abroad, I am expected to conform to the rules of my host country whether they be the rule of law, social etiquette or custom or just downright good manners. Therefor I do not show the soles of my shoes in Russia. I take off my shoes if I visit a japanese house or go into a mosque. Women are expected to cover their arms and at the least wear a headscarf in public.
    Western civilisations have fought many a long struggle within our own countries and against intruders to ensure we have the right to rule ourselves by our own laws. Anyone who feels they cannot live up to our ideals should go away or be denied any rights of the society they do not want to be part of.
    That’s as true for any indigent and should be even more so for any immigrant.
    We are Christian democratic societies and

    • 19 Adam
      January 26, 2010 at 20:51

      There is also the fundamental question that every westerner asks and that is, if people want to live in a non Islamic state, why do they want to impoe islamic rules (and in this case – non Islamic rules)

      you have good point indeed,but the point is that no one is trying to impose any laws here. you’ve mentioned it yourself, that you simply respect the customes,social traditions, religious beliefs,etc.. call it what you will!

      when some people say that the “burqa” poses a threat, i simply cannot fathom the idea, ofcourse you’re not just going to let someone through,if checking the person’s identity is vital and advantageous to security!

      long story short, the whole matter has been politicized,unfortunately! i am muslim, i am with dressing modestly, im not exactly supportive of the burqa,however,the whole issue he been blown way out of proportion!

  8. 20 Eric in France
    January 26, 2010 at 12:57

    Hello there,

    I personally say that yes to the ban. However, it should not be the Islamic veil but anything that can hide your identity whatever its origin is. That should include any religious (islamic, christian, or whatever faith) piece of cloth as well as wearing bike helmet and so on.

    Am I right wind? No, just secular. I find offensive the wearing of those religious cloths whether it is a christian or islamic one. If coming to France with its known secular background and impose on the society religious practices that the country wants them personal, it is wrong. If such faith is more important to one than the quality of life found otherwise, s/he should leave the country for Saudi Arabia, Vatican or similar place.

    It is the right and privilege of a nation to decide on what its values are. In a nation of rights, you should challenge that through courts and political activism. In no way, should you impose your views and practices on your guest nation. I have worked in different places in the world to at least understand that from people. Acting otherwise is to challenge aggressively the majority.

    If you are a native and place above your country’s values your faith, you might want to relocate. In France, there are tens of jewish families (born in France or not) that go to Israel every year, because they think that it will suit them better based on the importance of their beliefs. That is fine and definitely not shocking at all.

    What about freedom of speech? If you let religions dictate your way of living, can freedom of speech and opinion really apply to you as your thoughts are tighten to what an omniscient and omnipotent being (or its representatives) is imposing?

    Take care and enjoy the freedom of life.

    • 21 Crispo, Uganda
      January 26, 2010 at 18:08

      Stop that crap reasoning. This is a global village. In France there exists French moslems. Where then should they go? If at home you are a vegetarian, does it mean, other family members who are carnivors ought to go in the jungle with lions or you going to live with Zebras and Giraffs?

      No matter our differences, we’ve got to learn to co-exist, appreciate these differences and forge a way forward. Come to Uganda and see how the various ethnic groups exist together. One hasn’t requested for another to be ban on the basis that they are few, they do not like them. Its such a shame coming from you especially in a “democratic” state.

  9. 22 Ibrahim in UK
    January 26, 2010 at 13:08

    I think they are abusing the term Secularism to justify this ban.

    Secularism does not allow politicians to discriminate for/against religion, and it protects the freedom of each individual to their religious practices. Secularism and the Burqa have existed in France for decades. It can be argued that the Burqa in France was the proof of French secularism at work.

    What has changed? The values of secularism have not changed, but people’s perceptions of the Burqa has changed. They don’t like it anymore after being told by the media that it is a tool of repression.

    It would be more correct for them to say that the Burqa ban is in response to popular tastes rather than saying it goes against the principles of secularism. If public perception changes tomorrow and accepts the Burqa in public, would the values of secularism still ban it? This is populism, not secularism.

  10. 23 Lilly
    January 26, 2010 at 13:13

    It would be important to understand the history of Muslim dress for women- when did this form start, where and why? I believe that it is not mentioned in Koran. Thus, it is a custom.

    Whatever ones faith I believe that the law of the land must take precedence. If not, does it mean that Muslims should not follow UK laws where sharia laws exist? No. same should be for women’s clothes. Common sense needs to prevail. In schools there are rules about dressing that many girls do not like but have to follow.

    Exceptionalism is not the same as freedom of choice. Seeking special priviledges makes sense only when there are real reasons for them. Custom from another country is not necessarily one of them.

  11. 24 steve
    January 26, 2010 at 13:47

    Funny that there are no laws to stop women from dressing like prostitutes, but there apparently will be to stop them from overdressing.. Won’t this at least limit skin cancer if they overdress?

    • 25 Chintan in Houston
      January 26, 2010 at 15:28

      @ Steve

      Nice comment 🙂

    • 26 Josiah Soap
      January 26, 2010 at 15:53

      Actually Steve it is detrimental to cover up this much. There are now recorded cases of muslim women in the UK with rickets. A certain amount of sunshine is needed for synthesis of vitamin D – which helps absorb calcium. Muslim women are not absorbing enough calcium and hence the bones are softening and legs bowing outwards. Just as too much sunshine is bad, so is too little!

  12. 27 patti in cape coral
    January 26, 2010 at 13:54

    I used to assume that the burka was a symbol of subjugation, but I was able to ask Lubna a few questions, although she wears only a head scarf, and it was apparent that some women like the burka, or at least have become used to it and feel naked without it. I believe her words were “I feel like a queen, like something special that has been set apart.”

    It should be the woman’s choice what she wears, but in today’s world, I can understand the need for compromise in public places because of safety concerns. I think Muslims can understand that too, but I don’t think that was the first way it was presented. I think it was presented straight off the bat as a condemnation of their culture. I don’t know, this is pretty prickly.

  13. 28 Idris Dangalan
    January 26, 2010 at 13:58

    Islamic will not ban mini-skirt for non-muslim in their country but why Paris ban burqa,it is not discrimination for banning it in any nation which is not their religion or custom. In my point view to modernize it that suit the government and respect the wearer as human-right.

  14. January 26, 2010 at 14:26

    Hello gang,
    The Burka is not a must in Islam, it is a matter of personal choice… I am a 23 yrs. and 7 months old practicing Muslim woman, I have been wearing the Hijab or the Islamic headscarf willingly since I was 11 yrs. old… To me a woman’s personal choice should be respected by all no matter what, after all Allah in the Holy Quran says ”There’s no compulsion in religion”… And as for our friends who’ve made some remarks about mini-skirts, I am a final yr. medical student at Baghdad Medical School, and down here at my college short tight skirts with long boots is the new trend ! :)… With my love… Yours forever, Lubna in Baghdad… PS, my dear Patti, any questions from you or from anyone else regarding this topic are warmly welcomed ! 🙂

    • 30 Idris Dangalan
      January 26, 2010 at 18:16

      Your contribution is true because it is okey for women to choose their mode of dress not to forced them to wearing burqa or not to wear. As potential medical doctor it is not proper to use burqan when you are at work.

  15. 31 T
    January 26, 2010 at 14:40

    I thought that all French citizens were supposed to be equal (there’s no such thing as “race”). Yet in this case obviously not.

    Since this is “offensive” to some powerful people in France, does this mean that any women who wear these will be deported as well? Will the fines cover the costs?

  16. 32 touqeer Chishty (Pakistan)_
    January 26, 2010 at 14:47

    No,….. They are not favouring anything it is everyone
    s right right to live thier lives according to thier religion if they want to. I don’t think one should impose anything to anyone. Where are the humun right organization now.

  17. 33 Cynthia
    January 26, 2010 at 15:15

    The French proposal is simply anti-Muslim, racist, and anti-human rights. Did they ever talk of concern for veiled women when fully covered nuns were everywhere?

    • 34 Steve
      January 27, 2010 at 13:38

      Hmm… racist… ISLAM is a religion, MUSLIM are the followers of the religion. Muslim’s can be of any nation – they are not a race..
      Islamic Extremists. do they ever think of Human Rights, when they are hacking into the neck of a captured soldier or civilian.
      What about when they are burying a woman up to her waist in order to stone her – did you know the rocks are specially selected,so as to inflict as much torment as possible, a long drawn out agonising death. Wow the Religion Of Peace…
      And please, when was the last time you heard of a NUN walking into a crowded marketplace, screaming ‘GOD IS GREAT’ before detonating enough explosives to wipe out a city block

  18. 35 dan
    January 26, 2010 at 15:19

    If women want to live a 7th Century lifestyle, practice Sharia Law, be beaten half to death, enjoy being slaughtered in honor killings and wear burlasp sacks then they need to return to the Islamic country of their birth where they can enjoy all the advantages of 7th Century barbarism.

  19. 36 Roy, Washington DC
    January 26, 2010 at 15:19

    How is it a “favour” to allow people to freely practice their religion? It would have been a disservice to Muslim women to ban them, but that doesn’t mean that allowing them is a favour.

  20. 37 alex
    January 26, 2010 at 15:24

    It seems to have been missed that women visiting Saudi Arabia are not allowed to dress as they wish ie. micro skirts or shorts, I love to hear these people saying it’s wrong for a state to tell you what you can or cannot wear…
    The burkha it it’s current form of course came from England in the first place in 1892, the same sort of time Coke arrived in Europe, so perhaps it should be argued that it’s a traditional form of European clothing!

  21. 38 steve
    January 26, 2010 at 15:28

    These laws are made out of pure animosity. Sure, is there a potential that Europe might become somewhat Islamicized? Do people like seeing people that don’t integrate? Probably not…. But making a law like this would be like making a law against wearing yarmulkes, or tzizit, if you don’t like seeing Jews who dress like “jews”…. These is made out of pure dislike of a group. And while I don’t want to see an islamized Europe, I want europe to remain secular, liberal, etc, I can only see this out of dislike for a group, and it’s not even the part of the group that really even potentially creates problems. The women typically aren’t the bombers. It’s the men that tend to be the extremists.

  22. 39 Dave
    January 26, 2010 at 15:38

    Even though I am an american muslim, I find it very hypocritical that muslims in europe complain when the State tries to impose clothing laws, when most of those people complaining come from countries that impose clothing laws on their citizens and on foreigners. See Iran, Afghanistan (under the Taliban) and Saudi Arabia. The ultra-conservative Saudis export their clothing vision beyond their own borders by sending money and imams to mosques in the west to help enforce their ancient tribal customs.

  23. 40 Jagjit Singh Mukandpuri
    January 26, 2010 at 15:40

    We are living in a multicultural global village. We have to respect each other’s faith and some laws with the policy of LIVE AND LET LIVE. So in perspective to ease to all we have to make our identity in public places, It is the need of the hour and for safety & sucrity of all. But we are free in our private life. Thanks.

  24. January 26, 2010 at 15:40

    Fox news would now be almost justified in using representing France as the epitome of anti-personal-freedom.

    Attempting to legislate on dress.

    For me, the country has no business banning them anywhere. On private property it should be up to the owners of that property (banks for example should be able to ban them should they see fit).

    I would not like it if my government told me I could not claim welfare or get on a public bus unless I was naked. I can’t imagine people who are accustomed to wearing the burqa would feel any differently into being blackmailed into disrobing themselves of that either.

    Now an ad campaign and other social polices aimed at encouraging women to feel comfortable about discarding their coverings are another matter. I might just support that.

  25. 42 steve
    January 26, 2010 at 15:40

    When will there be a ban on overweight people in revealing clothes, especially spandex?

  26. 43 Martin A. Thiel
    January 26, 2010 at 15:46

    It is ironic at best that the Islamists advocating acceptance of the burga complain in the next breath of “discrimination” when they apply for a position. If I apply for a job I put on clothes that make me most acceptable and appealing to those I would work for and with. When they move to France it is up to them to fit in. Wearing this does indeed mark them as hostile to their neighbore and the country where they are living. The veil marks them as psychologicly alienated and hostile and there is a serious question as to how much of this “victim” psychology is nurtured by this controlling religion, which, especially in its radical form, is so authoritarian and often seems to sanction envy and jealousy (think Cain and Abel) to justify hatred and revenge against their human brothers. To achieve your goals of true morality, brotherhood and acceptance stop projecting hostility. Moderate Muslims need to appear as upset about Islamic violence against innocents (even Christian innocents) as they do about cartoons depicting firecrackers in Mohammed’s hat.

    • 44 Maxine
      January 27, 2010 at 08:04

      I agree 100%. In addition, as a woman, I am offended that because I don’t wear full body covering, I am – to use their words – a whore: I am showing my neck or arms or legs.

  27. 45 viola
    January 26, 2010 at 15:48

    A pretty scarf is an accessory. A garment that makes a woman invisible is an abomination.

  28. 46 Phyllis WGCU
    January 26, 2010 at 15:52

    In some Muslim countries the ban on full face cover (e.g in Government buildings) is already in place. This was done for security reasons.

  29. 47 eSCe
    January 26, 2010 at 15:58

    If this about religions them Catholic nuns , silkh and buddhist religious habits should be restricted. The Italians law is the best. No one should cover their face. For security sake.

  30. 48 Josiah Soap
    January 26, 2010 at 15:58

    I have interacted with muslim women wearing the burka. I find it hard to interact with them, unnerving and just bad manners. This is Europe and we are accustomed to seeing peoples faces when they talk to us. If someone interacted with you with a ski mask how would you feel?

    If it is not banned in Europe I think more non-muslims should start wearing a burka everywhere in public just to take the mick

  31. 49 dan
    January 26, 2010 at 16:18

    How one dresses UNDER their clothing or in their homes and Synagogues and Curches is VASTLY different than a woman wearing a burlap sack hiding her entire body and identity walking about in public.
    No one stops a Jew from wearing a Kepah, a Seik wearikng a turban or anyone wearing any covering on TOP of their head.
    It seems to me that muslims want the world to conform to them while showing absolutely NO respect for the laws and customs of the host country and other religions.
    Therefore I still maintain that if they wish to observe a 7th century barbaric custom in public, they should do so in the Islamic country of their birth.

    • 50 Portuguese
      January 27, 2010 at 16:22

      “It seems to me that muslims want the world to conform to them while showing absolutely NO respect for the laws and customs of the host country and other religions.” You said it all!

  32. January 26, 2010 at 16:26

    A burka ban on public services seems fair. What a lady does in private is her fundamental right. Muslim women in foreign countries should respect the sentiments of their hosts and should dress moderately.’When you are in Rome do as the Romans do’ is an oft quoted saying. This is so true and would eliminate friction between the hosts and the guests. Even if the guests become permanent residents or citizens they should try and assimilate with the natives as well as with the other nationalities. As we evolve to global citizen status, we should try and build bridges with other races. Multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-religious bonds are so very important for the survival of the human race.

  33. 52 Tara Ballance, Montreal Canada
    January 26, 2010 at 16:29

    @ Josiah Soap

    Building upon your suggestion, I think the fastest way to defuse the burqa situation is to start integrating elements of Islamic dress into female fashion everywhere.

    I’ve seen Muslim women wearing headscarves, and found the scarves to be flattering and pretty. I could imagine myself wearing some of those scarves just for the look.

    When society can’t say which burqa-wearing woman is a Muslim and which is wearing it just because she darn well wants to, then this law will be revealed for the farce that it is.

  34. January 26, 2010 at 16:37

    Just as well. I don’t Michael Jackson’s kids would have liked Paris anyway! (no pun intended).

    Seriously – what a stupid idea. How many atrocities have been committed by Muslim WOMEN in veils? It’s not threatening if you don’t choose to be threatened by it. It isn’t ‘bad manners’ – that suggestion is just ridiculous. How many Western women wear revealing clothes that offend some people? We don’t ban the mini-skirt just because it’s too revealing, do we? Why should we ban women who actually want to be modest? Why do we assume that every single woman who chooses not to flaunt herself is somehow repressed? If it’s important to see her face (for security, customs etc) then arrangements should be made for this, but otherwise live and let live. There are actually living, feeling people under those veils.

  35. January 26, 2010 at 16:37

    If this new law is truly about promoting a secular society and removing markedly religious clothing from public spaces, I don’t envy the customs official who has to hand the Pope dungarees as he enters the country. And, of course, a more subdued hat.

  36. 55 Vivia de Mesquita
    January 26, 2010 at 16:38

    disagree with the ban if the woman of her own free will wishes to cover her face. This is a denial ofa basic right of each individual.

  37. 56 Francisco in Spain
    January 26, 2010 at 16:39

    If islam women lives in a foreign country with a different culture, they should adapt themselves to the costumes and to what is sociable acceptable in terms of personal appeareance, otherwise it will be difficult for them to be accepted by local people.

  38. January 26, 2010 at 16:45

    I personally want to walk around naked, however this could cause all sorts of security alarm bells ringing.
    The Burka should off course not be worn in places where they can’t identify immediately if you pose a threat or not. However wearing a Burka in the street is ones own free choice and I dare say the European Court of Human Rights would overturn any European Law that states otherwise.
    I believe that the French president is trying to open lines of communication with the Muslin world, and obviously doing a bad job of it. Integration is not a factor that should impede ones basic rights but compliment them. Maybe one day they’ll choose not to wear Burkas in the streets, but that is their decision alone to take quite simply. I’d be more worried about people wearing Burkas in the Middle East, where security threats are at a constant.

    The Oracle

  39. 58 stephen/portland
    January 26, 2010 at 16:46

    Keep the outfit and ban the awful religion!

  40. January 26, 2010 at 16:46

    The Burka controversy in France:

    Unfortunately, all of the above fail to specifically address the American constitutional principle of “separation between Religion and Government,” and I suspect none of you who read this are even aware of from whom that quote comes–James Madison, Father of the Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land, for the USA.

    When we talk about an issue, like the Burka, we should not miss the opportunity to teach the American principle in respect to “Religion and Government.” Which is, in the USA: “religion” is not above the law and will not be established. In America we all obey the laws of the land, but “religion” (First Amendment) will not be established and its free (voluntary) exercise is not above the law. Everyone in America and the world needs that understanding, whether Muslims or polygamists or “world have your say,” for the sake of peace on earth.

    This basic American understanding of separation between religion and government, as well as about what America is and has meant to history, needs to be shared around the world. In the USA, everyone is free to adopt any religion he or she chooses, but we all obey the laws of civil society, that is, our national government. Otherwise, chaos exists. Did the rest of the world learn nothing from the Dark Ages?

    Gene Garman, M.Div., author of The Religion Commandments in the Constitution: A Primer

  41. 60 Fahad
    January 26, 2010 at 16:47

    I do not understand the motive behind this ban. I do not understand why it is anybody’s buisness if a women decides to cover here face. Afterall they have the right to expose most of thier body and it is accepted and normal. They have clearly crossed the line into personel rights and freedom.

  42. 61 Rob Netherlands
    January 26, 2010 at 16:54

    The French pfff .. really is it possible to ban the french instead!! pls ..

    No really I find topics and decision made on this based on a subconsious fears. I agree on what Erin said

    “However, it should not be the Islamic veil but anything that can hide your identity whatever its origin is. That should include any religious (islamic, christian, or whatever faith) piece of cloth as well as wearing bike helmet and so on”

    As we Europeans like to think that we are such an open society are scared of what we can’t see. Well let me tell you, the uncovered face itself can hide just as many as when you wearing a vail or whatever. And the idea of supressing woman or thinking in rights and equality … tsss … I would like to see the numbers on how many woman are having high positions in business in France.

    I find those decisions hypocrite as I how I see the French and Europeans in daily live.


  43. January 26, 2010 at 16:58

    Yes,there should be a law requiring people to show their faces in public buildings,such as airports,post offices,passport applications,wedding ceremonies or anywhwere were a masked face cannot be identified.But exusing those requirements,wear what ever you would wish,when ever you would wish.

    Question for Lubna! Does the Koran hold the ten commandments? Owing to the fact that Moses is supposedly the most mentioned prophet in the Koran.

  44. 63 TomK in Mpls
    January 26, 2010 at 17:00

    Any time a government takes away freedoms, it is doing *nobody* a favor. France is actually getting worse than the US as far as eliminating freedoms and building big government. That is hard to do.

  45. 65 Guido, Vienna
    January 26, 2010 at 17:00

    I think there is a major difference between the reason stated for the ban and the real reasons. The real reason is that many human can not stand that someone dress or behave different, if the speak to each other in a foreign language it is even worse.

    The stated reason, the rights of women, is a problem with many immigrants, but a ban do not work.

  46. 66 gary indiana
    January 26, 2010 at 17:01

    People wear uniforms to be, well, uniform. Outlawing cultural uniformity is as illogical (by fashion rather than need) as was adopting it in the first place. Considering current tensions between the relevant cultures, the numbers taking offense from seeing the burka and niqab worn in public are likely about the same as those wishing to give offense by wearing it. Come on ladies, it isn’t required and it isn’t high fashion; it is merely another statement of status.

  47. 67 Donnamarie in Switzerland
    January 26, 2010 at 17:13

    A person covered head-to-toe, or a person with a full-face covering, is a security risk and such covering should not be permitted for security reasons.

    I think the cultural element is more important, and is much harder to address. I recently voted for the minaret ban here in Switzerland. I also voted against the construction of a football stadium and a commercial/industrial complex. I voted against the latter two because they were expensive, ugly modernstrocities. I voted against the minarets because of the Swiss obsession with traditional architecture. There are many thousands of protected historical buildings. New buildings are often denied permits (by the locals) if they do not fit in with the existing buildings, right down to the kind of roofing tiles used.

    Locals often vote down flights of fancy that do not conform, and they do not do so out of racism or for religious reasons. They do it because they–we–value our cultural heritage. I believe that countries have a right to their cultural heritage, and things, be they burkas or minarets, that are not in harmony with the tradition of the culture should not be permitted.

  48. January 26, 2010 at 17:14

    I see the French limited ban of the burka as the right of a nation to legislate the parameters of its culture. Saudi Arabia certainly does this. From what I understand from BBC interviews: 1) the burka is worn in France primarily by women who have converted to Islam, hence it is not Muslim women by birth who value the custom of enshrouding one’s face and body, and 2) the number of women wearing the burka has grown exponentially in recent years; if this trajectory were to continue, what appears to be an inconsequential issue today could lead to a serious cultural clash in future. The customs one elects to follow are personal CHOICE. The French government is merely stating the burka is not a choice when participating at official venues. If a burka-wearing woman feels discrimination in a culture that does not take comfort with her choice then she must move to a place which appreciates that choice. Citizens of nations who value equality like to be able to look into the eyes of their neighbors.

    • January 26, 2010 at 20:36

      I have to say that I hope my country doesn’t aspire to emulate Saudi Arabia.

      So many people use this as a justification for this proposed ban, but really, if your neighbor beats his dog, is that behavior OK in your house? We can’t justify one restriction with another.

  49. 71 steve
    January 26, 2010 at 17:16

    I don’t get it, if women are allowed to dress like prostitutes, why can’t they overdress?

  50. 72 Nick in Atlanta
    January 26, 2010 at 17:18

    I still do not get this European obsession with telling people what they can and cannot wear.

    But then again, the European experience with religion is somewhat different than the U.S. experience. The one thing the U.S. has been spared is a spate of religious wars. Both the U.K. and the continent have experienced many. So I suppose the efforts to enforce the secular an suppress the religious can be understood in this light.

  51. January 26, 2010 at 17:19

    I think it was about 1994 or 1995 at a major fashion show that Karl Largerfield of Chanel exhibited a collection of weird head wraps that also had the effect of concealing the identity of the model. I’m quite sure that if these had been widely accepted nobody would have criticised. It’s fashion, dahling! Funny how Western women willingly submit to the fashion mafia but we criticise people for doing it for less shallow reasons such as religion.

  52. 74 Alan in Arizona
    January 26, 2010 at 17:27

    I’m being pulled in different directions on this issue.

    I find it offensive that women could be forced to wear something detrimental to an individuals place in a countries society. And I applaud the French attempt at establishing equality for these women over religious subjugation.

    But I also find it offensive that a government would try and dictate a religions acceptable beliefs. I know that I would be very mad at my government if they attempted to dictate acceptable religious garments to me.

    I’d also be just as disturbed with any religious leader or family member who tried to get me to cover up what God has given me. Especially if I was a beautiful woman. Hiding Gods creations to me would seem a very disrespectful act. It would be like slapping God in the face and saying his art is trash in front of the whole world right after he gave you his favorite creation to keep and cherish for all time.

    I could never do that to my wife or someone I loved.

  53. 75 Linda from Italy
    January 26, 2010 at 17:31

    I think doing women a favour may be going a bit far, however, I do think the French have a point about banning this monstrosity in situations where establishing your identity and being able to communicate normally (including being able to read body language and facial expression) are important, and this goes for anything that obscures the face.
    By the way, I don’t think the implication that these women are “immigrants” helps the argument as many are French citizens, born and bred there, who seem to have got themselves involved with a regressive Middle Eastern culture (please note I didn’t say religion) that is utterly foreign to 21st century Europe.
    Neither can I see how anyone can possibly scream racism as even if this is down to a Wahabi-culture inspired interpretation of Islam, race doesn’t come into it, religion is (or should be) a CHOICE!
    I do however agree, that people who want to live in such a society should consider emigrating to a culture that better fits their own world-view.
    Finally, pray what is “modest” about refusing to show your face? Sounds more like an ego-trip to me.

  54. 76 Steve/Oregon
    January 26, 2010 at 17:33

    this law is simply designed to discriminate against muslims and is wrong. how can any “free” government tell people what to wear

  55. 77 Crispo, Uganda
    January 26, 2010 at 17:37

    That isn’t a show of religious tolerance. Or may be it is. Head veil or no head veil, it won’t change anything.
    Great the French didn’t make a fool of themselves by being very rational. Only in public places (hope its defined) sounds good to me.
    Phew, some things are real difficult to come up with a balanced view.

  56. 78 John48209
    January 26, 2010 at 17:41

    Here in America there are laws that prohibit concealing personal weapons at specific public places. Even states that allow a visible weapon in a visible holster, still prohibit weapons in specific public places. So there is a distinction in American law and society between right, privilege, and public security.

    The same distinction is made with dress. Banks post signs at the entrance for removal of hats, hoods on clothes, sunglasses, or anything that conceals identity. Yet it is not enforced because Americans worry more about personal privacy than public security.

    Likewise, there are laws prohibiting excessive windshield tinting in your personal car, but again it is not enforced where I live. This prohibition has more important daily implication to me than covering one’s face (burka) or eyes (sunglasses). Criminals in cars with dark windshields operate with more impunity because identification by witness or police is profoundly restricted. Limousines are allowed dark windshields presumably because one must document their identity before leasing this private conveyance.

    There are concealed, invisible people with open minds and good intentions. There are also noticeable, visible people with closed minds and bad intentions. Our brains are awash with primeval fear of the invisible quiet predator that will not be allayed by clever landscaping or alarmist rhetoric.

    Armed neutrality can easily lead to cautious pessimism.

  57. 79 Russ , San Leandro, USA
    January 26, 2010 at 17:43

    No, but I think Sarko has done the French a favor buy keeping his country French and by protecting and preserving what is “French”! There is nothing wrong with that’
    Viva la Swiss too!

  58. 80 Josiah Soap
    January 26, 2010 at 17:54

    A lot of posters here say its wrong for the government to tell people what they can wear and that they have to remove the said item in public places. It has already happened, if you go into a bank, post office or most shops in a full face ballaclava, a hoodie with a scarf covering your face or a motorcycle helmet with the visa down, you will be asked to remove it or refused service.

    Why do muslims then get special treatment and don’t have to show their faces? This is all about discrimination and racism, but not towards muslims! Just another example of our stuid politically correct establishment.

  59. 81 Shannon in Ohio
    January 26, 2010 at 17:55

    I attended college with and befriended a number of Muslim women from extremely conservative countries ( including Iran and Saudi Arabia) who voluntarily adopted western dress when they began their studies in the U.S. A few wore a fairly liberal version of Hijab–that was about it. They often said that the only criticism they ever received came from male Muslim students– who felt quite free to call them very offensive names I will not repeat here.

    I see little difference between France banning the Burqa while countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran make covering oneself the law of the land. In both cases governments (run largely by men) are imposing their will on women’s everyday lives. Neither side seems to be aware of its own intolerance, since both are convinced it is their right to decide how others should dress.

  60. 82 Linda from Italy
    January 26, 2010 at 17:56

    Sorry, maybe I misunderstood the question, is the favour allowing them to wear this garment in public in certain situations, or is the favour the partial ban itself?
    If the former, then I can’t see where the favour lies, since, if these women persist in their delusion that this is what God (or more likely some bloke in their family) wants, it will only limit their freedom of independent action and give them even more excuses for resisting any attempt at integration.
    If the latter, a blow struck against a truly horrible cultural influence, it sounds great, but of course it will do nothing to empower these women until they realise that it is they who are conniving with their men to build the cage in which they are imprisoned.
    So, no favour on either score, but a necessary step to counteract a practice a particular society considers abhorrent and therefore has every right to legislate against.

  61. 83 Tom in the U.S.A.
    January 26, 2010 at 17:58

    As an American, the idea of banning clothing of any kind is repugnant. Especially if the clothing pertains to a religion. If you don’t like a particular religion, then don’t join it.

  62. 84 Andrew in Australia
    January 26, 2010 at 17:59

    It is no more an affront than non-muslim women who are forced to cover up in Islamic states.

    Let’s face it, it IS a symbol of religion, maybe not strictly required by Islam as has been stated, but none the less something that is unique to certain muslim cultures and no non-muslim women wear such items of clothing.

    I don’t say this lightly, but were I to walk about with a helmet on to disguise my features I would be talking to police very quickly. I personally would have a problem if someone, anyone, who had their faced covered were to interract with me, socially or officially. It does cause anxiety to many people in this day and age it would unsettle just about anybody.

    But more importantly, secular states, or any state for that matter unless it directly oppresses people should have the right to stand up for their beliefs and be able to speak what they want for their societies.

  63. 85 Methusalem
    January 26, 2010 at 18:00

    It’s their country, land of the French — they could do whatever they find appropriate!

  64. 86 rob z.
    January 26, 2010 at 18:00

    I have never seen a burka worn myself.Muslim women I have met or seen sometimes do cover their head,Hindu also;but not their face,even though I might dislike the idea of covering ones face.I would not force a person by law to violate their religious practice.
    I think this is extremism led by Christian fascists.
    Rob in Florida.

  65. 87 Ian in Seattle
    January 26, 2010 at 18:07

    I just want to say a BIG THANK YOU to France and Switzerland.
    It’s wonderful to know that there are still some people out there willing to stand up to the whiners to preserve there culture and heritage!

  66. 88 Maxwell
    January 26, 2010 at 18:12

    Men can wear balaclavas, masks, children Halloween pumpkins. Women can veil themselves or unveil subtly with clothes, but do not drag religion into clothing.
    Let all who insist on wearing the vei hide their beauty or ugliness, guard their modesty while peering through and taking in the world.
    When a veil can hide more than a face, it is time to remove it.
    In Rome do as the Romans do, else go back to where you once belonged. The theocratic countries can not demand what they deny to other citizens.One set of rules for others in islamic states. Let the Islamists enjoy the freedom and rights in western democracies and exploit them to their advantage and practise their religionn because there is no religion in any of the western countries. They have lost their christian roots, most of them are only nominal secular christians.

  67. 89 Andrew in Australia
    January 26, 2010 at 18:19

    What the nay sayers are telling us that if you have your own land, your own culture, your own likes and dislikes, the way you have developed your country, whenever someone new arrives, you have absolutely no right what so ever to say, hey.. I don’t like this, and I don’t want this here. I am not telling you to get out, but I just want to preserve what I have worked for and my ancestors have worked for. What you want me to do now is to put up with everything that is now imposed upon me in my own home by outsiders who have the choice not to come and live here. And I am meant to feel ashamed to have my own beliefs. Why cant the French be left alone to be French, or anyone else for that matter.

  68. 90 Camille Campbell
    January 26, 2010 at 18:23

    If you take away the religious connotations what you have left is a fashion statement.
    Why are sky high mini skirts and barely there see through tops perfectly fine, but when a woman decides to cover up because of her personal beliefs it becomes offensive?

    While they’re at it the French should look into banning Habits for Nuns as well.

  69. 91 Elias
    January 26, 2010 at 18:38

    Everyone should and must understand when they move to a country they should at the very least conform to the basic standards of the country. If a muslim or non muslim comes from a country where it is acceptable to keep a gun or a knife on their person, it may well be that it is not acceptable to the country they hope to live in. Accordingly a muslim woman moving to a country where she covers herself in a way would hide her identity is not acceptable in most countries, so she should consider that it would be better for her to stay in her home country where it is their religious custom to do so.

  70. 92 wales
    January 26, 2010 at 18:42

    The Burka should be banned from all non muslim countries, we must abide by the laws of a muslim country if we go to one so the muslims who live in a non muslim must obey the laws of a non muslim country.

    • 93 Rich
      January 26, 2010 at 19:21

      This is not a logical argument. France, like many Western countries, is a democracy. This means that fundamentally, it is assumed that individuals have basic human rights. Simply imposing a ban on the burka as a means of retaliation for having to follow the rules of a primarily Muslim country when visiting is doing an injustice to the principles we hold true in democracies – mainly, personal freedom.

  71. 94 Smoky in PNG
    January 26, 2010 at 18:43

    If burqa is allowed in the name of freedom of expression, then the reverse is also true. You can chose not to wear burqa, or not to wear anything at all.

    Tribesmen from Papua New Guinea should also be allowed to walk down Champs Elysees wear nothing but penis sheaths. (a hollow-out bamboo to tuck in penis)

  72. 95 Abo (Washington DC)
    January 26, 2010 at 18:46

    It is another blow to “Muslim-West” positive dialog, we should be engaging if we want to defeat Islamic extremism. Banning burka and niqab, puts West as an oppressor of Liberalize and Democracy thus giving ideological empowerment people like Talibans and Al Qaida.
    If we band full covering Muslim dresses than we must band skin-tight or even sexually exposed Western style clothing.

  73. 96 bjay
    January 26, 2010 at 18:46

    Has the French done Muslim women a favour?

    YE !


    They cannot directly will to be different from what they are, however,they can choose what they shall be.

  74. January 26, 2010 at 18:48

    There needs to a balanced, sensible law that does not stigmatise Muslim women. But at the same time and in the same breath, Muslim women in France should not take the extreme step of covering their faces completely in public places as this could and would create unnecessary hostility. The sentiments of their hosts(the French) should be respected and taken into account.

  75. 98 Bob in Florida
    January 26, 2010 at 18:53

    Fashion and over-the-top dress and appearance like goth, gang attire, unnatural hair colors, etc. are, in my view, a foolish waste of time and money unless you are part of a circus. Nothing is more foolish than funny dress for religious or psudeo religious purposes. It is difficult to believe that folks have been lead to dress on purpose to satisfy some religious or cultural dogma in the misguided belief that doing so will get them special favor or admittance in some life either hear and now or in some life hereafter.

    • January 26, 2010 at 19:26

      Whether you feel it is silly or not really is not the point. Mormons wear special underwear, conservative Muslim women wear the niqab, the waiter at my local coffee shop had a tongue stud and all-over tattoos. I might think any of these is silly and don’t choose to do it myself, but I believe these folks should be allowed to do as they choose as long as they don’t impose it on me.

  76. January 26, 2010 at 18:55

    This is racism, pure and simple, that cannot be rationalized away, and an affront to the venerable French tradition of liberté.

    • 101 Rich
      January 26, 2010 at 19:27

      Agreed! If facial coverings akin to the Islam faith are being addressed, then why not all types of religious clothing? Are to expect that a burn victim who covers his/her face for personal reasons will not be allowed to do so after the ban? Or, are they exempt because they don’t wear a full burka in conjunction? How can they possibly believe they can draw a line anywhere that will respect all people and all faiths?

  77. 102 John in Salem
    January 26, 2010 at 18:56

    So I’m assuming the French will also ban fundamentalist Mormon and Amish women from wearing their traditional plain dresses and bonnets? Do they really think they can achieve social equality for women by playing fashion police?
    And when you consider their “fashion shows” – where the women are dressed like runaways from a B-grade science fiction movie – I can’t imagine anybody less qualified to pass judgement.

  78. 103 Melissa
    January 26, 2010 at 19:04

    This is a tricky topic with no “right” answer. On the one hand, yes, it does oppress woman, it is an archaic thing to still be making women to do, but on the other hand, these women live in modern day society and do have a choice to either obey their husbands/families and wear the veil or not. So it is a matter of choice and isn’t choice the main thing about a democracy?

    I am not for the burka, not only is it oppressing and make it blatantly obvious that the women are less than the men, but it really isn’t stated in the Qur’an that it’s necessary.

  79. 104 orna
    January 26, 2010 at 19:08

    Absolutely shocking and dangerous. THey are entering into controlling how people dress. This is going to cause unforeseen outrage and reaction.

    Personally I am TOTALLY against wearing the burka and see it as disrespectful to the society they are in but I also find may ways women dress in the west extremely disturbing and disgraceful to have to witness.

    What about Nuns wearing a habit? is this now also banned? what is the difference?

    • 105 Josiah Soap
      January 26, 2010 at 20:40

      Sorry guys, this is not a tricky situation, its not complex, its not racist or discriminatory. In France and Europe we don’t cover our faces, so people cannot see us. If you don’t like that, don’t come to Europe, go back to the oppressive hell-hole you came from. Lets have more respect for our own European heritage and make sure those that come here respect it also. People talk about banning nuns from wearing a habit – why? this is part of our christian heritage. We should stop accomodating other cultures, if they wish to come to Europe for a better life that’s fine, but leave your culture behind at the door and adopt the “norm” for that country.

  80. 106 Linda from Italy
    January 26, 2010 at 19:09

    I don’t know why so many people are taking against nuns suddenly. I went to a convent primary school in the ‘50s and our nuns did wear an adaptation of the mediaeval wimple, but their faces were fully open so they could communicate with everyone quite normally, and very good teachers they were too. 60 years on, an awful lot of nuns wear something akin to a nurse’s uniform and don’t even cover their hair.
    This is not about one lot can do this and another not cannot, but about a natural anxiety about people making a political statement that is basically diametrically opposed to prevailing cultural norms, and the fact that this statement seeks to impose an alien culture on the indigenous one.
    The argument about women “dressing as prostitutes” is equally specious, micro-minis and skimpy tops are acceptable in European cultures, however aesthetically distressing it may be when a fat wobbly body is crammed into something 3 sizes too small for it and a pair of tree trunks emerge from that pelmet, but no one is every compelled to wear a minis-skirt or skimpy top

  81. 107 steve
    January 26, 2010 at 19:11

    Let me guess, in France, a woman can walk around topless, but cannot weak a burqa if she chooses to?

  82. 108 Paz
    January 26, 2010 at 19:11

    A Toronto, Canada judge has recently ruled that a complainant in a sexual assault trial – who happens to wear the niqab, a face-covering worn by a small percentage of Muslim women – will have to uncover her face in order to testify. According to this article in the Toronto Star (http://www.thestar.com/News/GTA/article/581985),

    “The judge, Ontario Court Justice Norris Weisman, determined he had the jurisdictional authority to make that ruling under the Canada Evidence Act, because it involves the manner in which the woman is to give testimony, the fundamental right of a defendant to make “full answer and defence” and the “traditional right” of an accused to face the accuser.”

    Should the man be allowed to “face” his accuser? Another point of this case is the fact that the woman who wishes to be covered does have a valid Canada driver’s license with her photo on it without face covering.

  83. 109 Ibrahim in UK
    January 26, 2010 at 19:13

    It is their country, they can pass whateve ridiculous law they want.
    Tomorrow the UK can pass a ridiculous law that forbids being French in public since it is not British, has a hostile history associated to it, has different customs and culture, has a different in language which impedes communication, and is indicative of being repressed (they were obviously forced to learn French language and French ways), and of having a 7th century mentality of dictating what a woman can’t wear.

  84. 110 Rich
    January 26, 2010 at 19:14

    I think an important question to ask ourselves is, if it weren’t for the upsurge in terrorist attacks by radical Islamists in recent years, would the proposition for the ban have even come about? Even holding a public vote on the subject would not necessarily be fair because in countries were Islam is not the primary religion, it could be expected that most people would vote for the ban.

  85. 111 Tom D Ford
    January 26, 2010 at 19:16

    Wow! Your first guest is a classic case of a victim arguing for her victim-hood, to continue being a victim.

    It’s like an abused woman arguing that her husband beats her only because he loves her and she deserves it.

  86. January 26, 2010 at 19:16

    First, not all Muslim women wear religion garb or face coverings.

    Last, law must apply to all equally or chaos exists.

    In the USA, the religion problem was solved from its beginning: “religion” shall not be established by law, and all actions are subject to the laws of the land, regardless of religion. The word “free” in the free exercise commandment relates to voluntary exercise, not to chaos or disobedience of established law.

  87. 113 Kate M.
    January 26, 2010 at 19:17

    I don’t think anyone should have their face covered when they are in a government building. However, it would be crossing a line to fine women walking down the street with a veil on.

  88. January 26, 2010 at 19:19

    Well I am all for ending the enforcement of these headgear on women in the muslim countries where failure to wear them is punishable. I kind of find it funny that the the same thing can be a symbol of human rights in opposite ways. Making women wear them in Muslim countries is a violation of their rights there while banning them in France is again the same. I believe that any sort of enforcement, be it making them wear it or stopping them from doing the same are wrong. Is France is doing this because they fear it symbolises the rise of extremism of a religion in their country? Is the banning something like the Minaret ban in Switzerland? Does France not have freedom to follow religion and culture? Also this is a violation people’s right to expression and wear what they want.

    Now if this is because the headgear threatens Frances secularism, then they should also ban the display of other religious symbols like wearing the cross. Then there is also the veils worn by Christian women during their weddings and the net veils during funerals. And what about the headgear of nuns? The burkha and the nun’s gear look very similar don’t they? Whether to wear it or not should be only up to the individual woman and cannot be directed by any government or leader, whether in France or in any other place of the world.

  89. 115 Mr. Kawakubo {PORTLAND}
    January 26, 2010 at 19:19

    The burqa is the swastika of our generation!

    The burqa is a sign of repression. Of course ‘dumb objectivity’ has tried to spin this the other way recently, by suggesting the fantastical virtues it provides to women. I suppose if it were such a bonus, then men would be wise to wear it too.

    The burqa is an ideological symbol. We apparently can’t separate correctly the problematic issue of racism from that of religion. The burqa is not a symbol of a race, it is a symbol of a chosen belief system—it is a choice. It will and should be up to scrutiny. It represents the lowest form of men trying to dominate over women. It can be seen in no other logical way, unless women had an equal role in its creation—surely, they did not.

  90. 116 steve
    January 26, 2010 at 19:19

    I have to dissagree with the caller, how can the actions of France encourage terrorism?

    Are you suggesting someone would react violently to the banning of a certain type of clothing???

    If someone banned tanktops here in the US, I really doubt there would be even any thought of violence in response, i think a meteor strike at the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow would be more likely.. Soooo… Why would terrorism be more likely?

    • 117 Rich
      January 26, 2010 at 19:25

      Are you forgetting that a Danish newspaper that published a political cartoon depicting Mohammed drew threats and protests? Individuals are very passionate about their personal beliefs. This is true of all religions, including Islam. What do you think the term “jihad” means? – “Holy war.”

    • 118 Kate M.
      January 26, 2010 at 19:34

      There are some who will interpret this as a personal attack on their religion.

  91. January 26, 2010 at 19:20

    If the French government would like to promote “co-existence side-by-side, without which our republic is nothing,” they should allow Muslims to co-exist side-by-side with their non-Muslim countrymen and women. As it is, they propose repressing the free choice of women.

    This proposed ban shows a profound ignorance of the purpose of the niqab or birca. These garments are a physical representation of modesty that is worn, particularly, outside the home.

    Men who force women to wear these garments will gain more power over their wives, who will now be restricted, in practical terms, to the home as they will not be able to move “modestly” in the greater society. This further isolates the women most at risk.

    The French government seems to be abdicating their responsibility for addressing the root causes of repression of some women. Instead they are choosing to address an article of clothing.

    And equating wearing the niqab with promoting terrorism? Seriously? I am disgusted.

    “It is the symbol of the repression of women, and… of extremist fundamentalism.

    “This divisive approach is a denial of the equality between men and women and a rejection of co-existence side-by-side, without which our republic is nothing.”

  92. 120 Mike in Seattle
    January 26, 2010 at 19:21

    I’m all in favor of religious freedom and think that if folks want to wear this, they should be allowed to.

    Yet, what do we do in security situations? When I go to the bank or fly or attend nightclubs and concerts, and wearing these garments would obviously get in the way.

    What is the acceptable compromise here?

  93. 121 Paul
    January 26, 2010 at 19:21

    Fine, outlaw the burka and niqab in public places, and then the women who wear them will not go out in public and loose even more freedoms. Whether you agree or disagree, a person’s religious expression should not be legislated in a free state.

    • January 26, 2010 at 19:40

      Nonsense is the reply of an honest historian to religion actions. Religion has led crusades of death and disaster and ignorance throughout the world. In its wisdom, the USA prohibited the establishment of religion by law, and instead allows the exercise of religion in terms of abiding by the laws of the land, not by every or any existing religion opinion or some clerics opinion. It is opinion only which is above the law, not actions. A peaceful society depends upon law, not religion, because we do not all agree about religion.

  94. January 26, 2010 at 19:26

    Muslim women in France must be thankful to the France government. Now they have full freedom to face the society without any barriers where once Muslim women were discriminated by asking them to wear burqa.

    Thank you.

  95. 124 Alexandra
    January 26, 2010 at 19:26

    Good evening,

    the statement saying that wearing a Burka is supposed to be a sign of piety or spirituality doesn’t make any sense to me at all, because it is being limited to women. Why men do not need to wear Burka? What does it say about their spirituality? Are they spiritual as they are, by nature, showing their face in public, meaning, in reverse, that women’s spirituality is / women are inherently inferior and therefore their face has to be covered?

    Best regards & thank you for the interesting discussions,

  96. 125 Lapog
    January 26, 2010 at 19:26

    What next? French-kiss for greeting?

  97. 126 Bob
    January 26, 2010 at 19:26

    Why don’t Muslim men conceal their face? If a women wears it to express some religious values, then the men don’t practice those values?

    • 127 Khan sahab
      January 26, 2010 at 19:42

      Reason of veil is to protect identity of women, who are treated vastly differently based upon their looks, age, or dress. Burqa is not unique to muslim community; many hindoo families and christian nuns practice it as well.

      As for men, their eyes are the veil. When a woman’s face is covered; the potential of social evil of discrimination of women is already addressed.

      Hope you are not lost of “equal” treatment of men like women!

  98. January 26, 2010 at 19:28

    Here is a suggestion, women can wear a burka but also a badge delivered by the police showing their pictures or an electronic bracelet indicating their whereabouts. It sounds as strange as 750 Euro fine, but at least it is less financially obliging!

  99. 129 BenU
    January 26, 2010 at 19:32

    So the debate is about limiting some women’s right TO wear a burqa in order to help other women’s rights NOT to wear a burqa. Isn’t that an ironic way to enhance women’s rights?

    Wouldn’t everyone agree that the suppression of women is wrong? This burqa issue won’t help in the fight against supression of women. Burqa or not, these women will take the bus home and be supressed by their husbands in more ways that just what they wear.

  100. 130 Francisco in Spain
    January 26, 2010 at 19:32

    As far as I’m concerned I would not talk with a woman with a burka on her face. nor the mayority of people I know here in Spain.. is this the way the muslim people wants to integrate and get involve within society? that’s wrong

  101. January 26, 2010 at 19:32

    Muslim women in France must be thankful to the France government for giving them freedom with a ban on wearing Burqa. Once there was a discrimination towards Muslim women asking them to wear burqa, now it’s been banned in France – Muslim women at least in France could face the society without any barriers.

    Thank you.

  102. 132 Joe
    January 26, 2010 at 19:32

    Why can’t I (or anyone else) go in public nude in France? If this is about freedom, then why don’t nudists jump on the bandwagon and protest their rights are being violated?

  103. 133 Joseph A. Migliore
    January 26, 2010 at 19:32

    Sarkozy’s decision contradicts the basic fundamental principles of Islam, the very intent of Quranic teachings is to have women dress in public places, once outside their homes, whether choosing the burka or the hijab in public!

    This is the wrong decision on the part of the French and it sends the wrong message to the Muslim community. This choice of women wearing the burka, although it is interpreted as assuming a conservative form of dress by the Europeans, it should be up to the individual Muslim woman to decide on her own. The Prophet Mohammad and Islamic teachings, suggest that women dress appropriately, by covering themselves in public places.

    Since France belongs to the EU, this should be taken up by the EU Council and Commission and they should make a ruling that should be applied EU wide, including the 27 member states, not each country individually!

  104. 134 Tom D Ford
    January 26, 2010 at 19:33

    @ Gene Garman, M.Div.
    January 26, 2010 at 16:46

    “…This basic American understanding of separation between religion and government, as well as about what America is and has meant to history, needs to be shared around the world. In the USA, everyone is free to adopt any religion he or she chooses, but we all obey the laws of civil society, that is, our national government. Otherwise, chaos exists. Did the rest of the world learn nothing from the Dark Ages?”

    “Gene Garman, M.Div., author of The Religion Commandments in the Constitution: A Primer””

    It is not often that I agree with a religionist but sure I agree with you about this. The laws of our civil society make possible the other Freedoms that we enjoy, including Religion.

  105. 135 Vikram
    January 26, 2010 at 19:33

    Clothing is a personal choice, as some wear more and some less. But burqa reminds me of a picture I witnessed all summer long at my local beach; there is a new muslim couple who moved in my neighborhood. All last summer we witnessed the man dressed in shorts and t-shirts sipping soda enjoying the cool breeze of the ocean while his wife clad in black burqa with even the face covered walked a good 10 feet behind him carrying a child and pushing a stroller in 35c temp. Whenever they walked by we all felt very SORRY for the lady and use to wonder how hot she must have been. That too me was not by choice but by force.

  106. 136 posnie
    January 26, 2010 at 19:37

    From David in Berkeley:

    When you ban a culture, it’ll come back to bite you.

    France: if you want to ban all face masks, do that, but not just Muslim veils.

    Switzerland: if you want to ban religious towers, including church steeples and minarets, fine. Not just minarets.

  107. 137 Sanjevan
    January 26, 2010 at 19:38

    I don’t see a problem with the law itself if it is not only limited to one social group.

    They should balance the law and make it illegal to wear the Christian cross, jewish head gear, Hindu bindi and any other adornment that would show someone’s religious belief.

    Sanjevan – pronounced (San-jee-Van)

  108. 138 Khan sahab
    January 26, 2010 at 19:38

    Whenever a western state like France, or, switerzland comes down with Nazi law targeting muslims; comparison is always with Saudi Arabia…

    The conveniently forgotten truth is that Saudi Arabia is an islamic state, and not a secular state.

    I believe if France and Switzerland should first declare themselves as explicit Christian, or, whatever religion they radically follow, then compare with saudi arabia’s laws.

    As for Burqa, i am wondering what’s next? Muslims should wear marks in France?

    • 139 Linda from Italy
      January 26, 2010 at 22:38

      Saudi Arabia is a Muslim state, fine, get on with it.
      Western Europe is secular and therefore we are entitled to legislate against imported oppression from the sort of cultures we thought we had grown out of several centuries ago.
      Islamic fundamentalists (NOT Muslims) bear their own marks with arrogance, they seek to isolate themselves and mark themselves out as “not part of your culture” so this is voluntary and they are actually discriminating against themselves.
      What on earth are you trying to do to us?

  109. 140 Sally
    January 26, 2010 at 19:41

    Face coverings pose a safety threat. Women do not have peripheral vision. Crossing streets and roads are more hazardous, keeping track of children is very difficult. Awareness of being followed is impossible. Embarking on transportation and avoiding being bumped is hard, driving is impossible. Vision is not clear, but fuzzy. The face coverings are there to control to allowed sexual impulses of men who prefer them for muta marriages. Get down under the cultural reasons and you will understand the hypocracy of the face covering.

  110. 142 PJ
    January 26, 2010 at 19:41

    Covering the face completely is a physical barrier to communication. I can understand for this reason why a ban on this is fair enough – for practical purposes. There are guidelines for living in any society and we should respect them. France is a secular society so therefore has the right to make that call.

  111. 143 Manny In Washington D.C.
    January 26, 2010 at 19:43

    I cannot agree more with the lady who eloquently highlighted the importance of muslim ladies doing a lot more to bring their point of view to the limelight.

    May I also suggest that these viewpoints not only has to be championed by muslim women, but by also muslim men. To present this as a united common front would be an indication of agreement between muslim men and women, which will in essence carry more weight.

  112. 144 Tomas
    January 26, 2010 at 19:43

    Who said that you have freedom in US to wear (or not to wear) anything you want in the public realm? Burkas can be compared to a ski masks which have been banned in many places in the US. One can not walk into a bank to do business wearing a ski mask. There are cultural standards we all set upon ourselves.

  113. 145 kate
    January 26, 2010 at 19:45

    I don’t believe a government or religion has the right to tell people what to wear. I think the French government need to see it as a right to freedom of speech.

    At the same time, I highly disagree with forcing women to wear Burka’s etc. I am not a Muslim and therefore do not know much about what the Koran says. But from an outsider looking in it seems to me that women are made to cover their bodies because men may be tempted by them if too much is exposed. Why should women have to “pay” (in my mind) for another person not having self control?

    I know there are Muslim women who feel more comfortable covering up. And that’s fine. But it makes me wonder if they are hiding from something or if they are just conditioned to believe they are safer if they are covered up?

  114. 146 Faridon
    January 26, 2010 at 19:47

    Would a Nun get fined as well?

  115. 147 Mark Victor
    January 26, 2010 at 19:49

    “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.”

    It seems the motivation for banning religiously-motivated face coverings in various countries, including France, is anti-religion and not motivated by practical, secular, objective arguments.

    In New York City, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has regulations on the type of head covering that may be worn by women who operate or conduct trains and buses, face customers as a clerk, and hold other jobs in transportation. The motivation for allowing only a certain amount of head/face cover is safety, communication, and worker identification. The MTA even has a uniform head covering!

    I can understand governments regulating head coverings for both men and women in public based on public safety issues, including the ability to identify people in the investigation of crime and terrorism. I do not countenance government regulations and restrictions based on “cultural” arguments. France is wrong; the MTA in NYC is right.

  116. 148 Ayla
    January 26, 2010 at 19:50

    I think the ban on the burka is not only good for muslim women in france it is good for all women in france.

    I am not a muslim woman but I have been discriminated and treated poorly in public by muslim men in france. It is a long time coming for the muslims to be called out on their unwillingness to treat women according to the laws that provide all women in france the rights to liberty and equality.

  117. 149 Carole in OR
    January 26, 2010 at 19:50

    I am a Christian, and I can relate to the desire to be more modist; while we don’t have an obvious “uniform” dress. In other words, we are creating an envionment of isolationism for each group that moves away from the norm but we don’t recognize that the norm has moved away from modisty hugely. This is not diversity, and I can’t help but think that the more we push for forced homognization the more that we should expect push back.

  118. January 26, 2010 at 19:51

    In the USA, many women wear hats or head coverings. That is not the issue. The issue is about covering the face in public. About that, what is difficult to understand?

  119. 151 SJ
    January 26, 2010 at 19:53

    Muslims are accountable to ALLAH NOT Sarkozy! The Holy Quran states that wearing ‘burka’ is INCUMBENT upon Muslims! (women) No further comments!

  120. 152 Jasmine
    January 26, 2010 at 19:53

    Personally, I dislike Muslim women wearing a burka or niqab, but as much as I am against it, I believe banning these practices is a bit much. If they choose to wear it, let them do so. Who would have thought that covering every inch of your body was just as offensive as appearing in public stark naked. As the article states:

    I believe the real issue here aren’t Muslims pushing a separate identity, but instead European nationals refusing to accept anyone who does not fit into their ethnically European stereotype.

  121. 153 Jane Steele
    January 26, 2010 at 19:55

    Your caller was looking for another piece of clothing banned from wearing in public – Ballyclavas are banned on the streets in many places because they obscure the face.

  122. 154 David
    January 26, 2010 at 19:56

    Forgive me if I repeat what others have said. Here in the US the idea of banning any style of dress outright would lead to lawsuits and ultimately would be overturned. Banning such dress because it wasn’t part of “our culture” would never hold water. Witness the extended battle over whether immigrants ‘must be required’ to learn English etc. Nazi admonitions to culture sameness in Germany or the Rwandan mass murder not too long ago are the extreme result of enabling “rules” about what people may wear or not wear, be or not be. The issue cannot be weighed on whether other people are comfortable with the burka and niqab as cultural statements. The idea that they are more dangerous to ‘public safety’ than a burly man heavily dressed in coats and sweaters on a bus is not very defensible if the issue is hiding weapons or bombs. Arguing the idea that the women or anyone who wishes to wear them should agree not to do so because the wearing is not required is not very defensible, since the government could then use the same principle to ban any other clothing item. The underlying principle must be upheld which is that governments should never interfere with individuals’ behavior or actions except in very proscribed circumstances such as public safety or where such actions violate the rights of others. Another instance might be when the individual is in a workplace situation such as teaching, where the public has an interest in the character of the interactions. What if men were suddenly forbidden to wear long overcoats or traditional Catholic nuns forbidden to wear their habits? (medieval and outlandish looking). Liberte! Egalite! Fraternite! For everyone.

  123. 155 Peter in jamaica
    January 26, 2010 at 19:57

    Other societies do have dress codes that require that the body be covered but only the Burka and Niqab provide a complete isolation of the individual from the rest of society as well provide a large amount of anonymity which is unacceptable in today’s highly volatile terrorist environment. It will also help the women because at present it is associated with terrorism. A ban to me would be acceptable and correct in light of the current global standings with respect to providing protection for the citizen.

  124. 156 Tom D Ford
    January 26, 2010 at 20:00

    These articles of covering up type clothing were originally ordered to protect Muslim men from the temptations of women-ly charms. In other words, Muslim men could not control their sexual urges and so they made women cover up.

    Muslim women are perpetuating their victim-hood!

    Yay France! Free the Muslim women from their hundreds of years of sexual and fashion oppression!

  125. 157 Fred in Portland Oregon
    January 26, 2010 at 20:05

    I’m conflicted on this idea. On one hand I think that everyone has the right to practice their religion in their way as long as it harms no one else.

    However, when visiting Islamic countries during Ramadan, I was cautioned to not break the day long fast so that i didn’t offend any moslems that might see me, snacking on a tour bus.

    So, to me it seems that Islamic countries are free to arresst westerners for not repecting the ways of Islam, why shouldn’t western countries arresst and or fine moslems for not respecting and adhearing to cultural norms in western countries.

    I find it increasingly hard to respect Islam when it seems that everything offends them, regardless if it’s in Persia, Provonce or Pennsilvania. The west needs to stop cateriing to lthe lunatic right wing fundementalist Islamic and Christiain fringes and let everyone practice their religon and practice a little tolerance for everybody.

    • January 27, 2010 at 01:10

      Everyone in the USA has the right to practice their religion, within the laws of the land. In the USA no one has a right to violate the laws made by the citizen elected political assemblies, whose responsibility it is to make the rules by which the society is governed. In the USA clerics do not rule, and religion laws are not legal law. There are no religion laws in the USA.

      In the USA, the Constitution is the supreme law of the land period. Religion is a personal matter, not the business of government at any level. So called religion laws are not legal laws in the USA, and no one is forced to believe in any religion. Religion is a matter of opinion. God is a matter of opinion.

      Nonetheless, no one is above the civil laws of American society.

      As for dress codes, the law prevails in the USA, regardless of anyone’s religion opinion. The USA rejects the Dark Ages mentality. So, if the law bans masks, it is legal. As I mentioned above, no woman is banned from wearing garb or hats or scarfs; it is only face coverings which are objectionable. At least be honest about the issue, as well as learn the facts of American history before making comments which are simply not true.

  126. 159 Narsi Cherukupalli
    January 26, 2010 at 20:18

    Basically who is anyone to ban anything. Let’s say a muslim woman decides to do away with Burqa – French govt. is happy and the woman herself is happy.
    Now, if her husband/father or any other male in her house is a jerk who forces her to wear it or harasses her every time she does not wear it – then what?

    A major assumption here is that the woman has the freedom to choose what is best for her without any religious or other kinds of pressures. Is the govt. going to make sure that these pressures are eliminated?

    There will be equally compelling arguements to wear it or not whether it really empowers muslim woman or not.

    My point is that the person in question should have the freedom to choose whatever is best for herself – the only thing a govt. or society can do is to make sure that this freedom is truely available to that person.

    Personally, I don’t want anyone to cover their face when interacting with others – it is plain disrespect to the other person. A person to person relationship cannot be established easily. If you dig a little deeper it means you don’t trust anyone but your own male folk. But again who am I to force anyone to do anything – every relationship is mutual; you get what you give.

    It appears that the french govt. is anxious about what is behind a Burqa so they want to ban it. At the same time there is a real threat too. So how will one solve this problem? Again the only way is to encourage them to cooperate atleast when it is affecting others – like getting a drivers license or at security check points etc.

  127. January 26, 2010 at 20:23

    The burqa is not a garment that is equivalent to the back-to-front cap, the low slung bum showing jeans or indeed the turban, the Jewish Yarmulka or indeed the Muslim Kufi.

    Firstly the burqa is a Saudi ethnic outfit most suited to keeping the sand out of your clothes, eyes, hair, it is not required by Islam.

    There are roughly three broad categories of Western women glad in this garment. There are those still under the oppression of patriarchy with its misogynist laws who are unable to throw this garment off without it having serious consequences for them. Our condoning of this garment here in the West leaves these women at the mercy of their men and perpetuates the patriarchal culture they have to live under.

    There are those wearing this garment out of an acquired affectation, out of a desire to experiment, without any proper understanding of its meaning past and present and its consequences for other females.

    Finally, those wearing this outfit by choice who are making a religio/political statement to the West which maintains the oppression of those who have no choice and jeopardises the rest of female society by suggesting that those who are not thus clad are less than pure and consequently fair game for rape. This group in my opinion is contemptible, individualistic, and attention seeking. They think themselves pious but are in fact ludicrous. They strain to demand a respect above all other women, their arrogance in assuming that they might cause men to become sexually incontinent at the seeing them is risible. Possibly the best way to deal with this ridiculous trend is to make fun of it, but most certainly not to simply ignore or condone.

  128. 161 TomK in Mpls
    January 26, 2010 at 20:37

    I can not believe the number of people here that think it is right for their government to control their lives to such a minute extent. Are you people considering the cost in money? Or in freedoms? What if they go for sunglasses next because everyone knows criminals wear them. Or maybe the head wear of another religion, because it’s that other religion? Where does it stop? People keep trying to legislate ‘Politically Correct’ and absolute safety. It ain’t gonna happen. It can’t be done.

    I wish people would embrace life and its diversity. Never ask the government to take more money. Take a chance, and let idiots suffer.

  129. 162 Bob in Florida
    January 26, 2010 at 20:57

    SJ – can you cite the verse in the Quran that “states that wearing ‘burka’ is INCUMBENT upon Muslims! (women)?”

  130. 163 Amanda (USA)
    January 26, 2010 at 21:00

    This legislation would not benefit Muslim women. The only ones who would benefit from this would be non-Muslims who feel uncomfortable when confronted with these practices. After listening, it seems the underlying disagreement is about what the burka symbolizes. To most of the Muslim participants it symbolized their dedication to their religious lifestyle and relationship with their lord. To the others (non-muslims), it symbolized terrorism and oppression. As such, the best way to liberate these negative connotations is through cultural acceptance and education. In regards to women’s rights, the best way to protect them is through outreach and availability of assistance. As for the argument of cultural assimilation, to feel that one should have to assimilate into the national culture in which they live is an ethnocentric ideal. The most humanistic approach would be to encourage the peaceful interaction of multiple religions and cultural communities through acceptance and enlightenment. Only in this way can all members feel their human rights are protected.

  131. 164 Josiah Soap
    January 26, 2010 at 21:06

    The blatant fact is that we are being discriminatory against a certain sex and a certain religious practice. In western societies we have become obsessed with equality, human rights and ensuring everything we do does not discriminate against anyone in anyway. It has become so ingrained into our thinking it effects almost all aspects of our lives.

    I am able to stand back from this and admit it’s discriminatory, thats fine by me. These people are not part of the culture I was brought up with. I am not interested in accepting their culture, and not interested in living in a multi-cultural politically fairy tale land. So I hope other European countries follow France and Switzerlands lead.

  132. 165 Ahalam USA
    January 26, 2010 at 21:20

    Hello all! I am a 23 year old woman in the US and I have been practicing Islam for 5 years now, ilhumdulilah! I can realate to the fact that some people may be a bit intimidated by women in Burqa, this was once me. I can not, however, understand how the Burqu could be something that offends people. Be it a Burqua or Niquab, there is a human under there. Why dont we respect the belifes of every human? If someone came in to my place of work wearing a skii mask I would be scared… Its a skii mask!! If a woman came in with Her face covered in a way that is recognized to all as a Niquab or Burqua, that is a compleatly differant story. I only cover my hair with a Hijab, I hope one day to wear Niquab when I am ready to make that decision to become more pios and show more devotion to Allah(swah).
    As I listend to the conversation a coller had called in and said that women should be equal and free, does this mean being able to make your own decisions of what you were and how you choose to feel comfortable? Or does this mean to conform to what other people see fit or “feel comfortable with. ”
    I am jsut thankful that I live somewhere that does not impose a dress code.

    Respectfuly~ Ahalam

  133. 166 Joseph A. Migliore
    January 26, 2010 at 21:38

    The short answer is no! They are sending the wrong message to the Islamic community in Europe and elsewhere! In fact, this ruling by the French touches upon the very conflict that I hope to address in my thesis, a conflict in interpretations of religious identity. The Sarkozy decision, is in line with the Swiss parliament and vote, which recently called for a banning of the Minarets. I see a worrisome trend for Europe!

  134. 167 jens
    January 26, 2010 at 21:53

    would i employ somebody wearing a burka, probably not. would they apply for a job, most likely not. should they be allowed to wear it, probably.

    i personally find the burka discriminatory against women and forced upon them. should they have the right to decide to wear burkas outside of work and official engadgements, absolutly.

  135. 168 Werner Schneider
    January 26, 2010 at 22:11

    Hi, this is not about religion. And when somebody says “fraternité” should rule in France I can only say that women who cover their faces are not interested in exactly that “fraternité”, but want to distance themselves from the rest. I don’t like anybody walking on the street with his/her face covered. Inside a bank my first thought would be he/she (who knows actually?) is going to rob the bank. Such women totally covered in black I usually address as “ghosts” on the street. The French state is right to make them life as miserable as possible, because the Quran doesn’t say anything about total covering, only about “decent dressing”. And this is rubber, because who decides what is decent? There is a Muslim tribe in the south of the Niger where the women even go topless. Some sort of head-scarf is acceptable, because many women in Africa wear such for fashion-reasons, but I (and a huge majority of Europeans) don’t want “ghosts”. If they want to dress up like this they should go to countries where this is acceptable. The Tunisian shown in a CNN-report about this matter won’t like to go back home, because the Tunisian government is harassing people in extreme Islamic robes and such dresses or generally not accepted in this comparably liberal Islamic country since a long time. I fully support the French plans, but I also say that they don’t go far enough.

  136. 169 Linda from Italy
    January 26, 2010 at 22:21

    Having listened to the programme I have two things to say to the young lady defending the tent:
    1) if your dignity comes from within, why are your clothes so important? How superficial can you get? If you can’t feel close to your God without donning some weird garb, may I suggest your “faith” is on extremely shaky ground.
    2) re the specious argument about seeing someone’s face being so unimportant for communication: people who are all in the same position, i.e. communicating by telephone or a discussion taking place on the radio, do not put certain people at a disadvantage. However, in a face to face conversation both/all should be able to see the other people’s faces, but if one person is “open” and another other shrouded by a layer of material, that is not tolerable.
    Communication depends on the channel and, just as written discourse is different from the spoken form, but effective communication also depends on people observing the conventions of that channel, not the case here

  137. 170 Werner Schneider
    January 26, 2010 at 22:31

    Hi, Bob,
    there are Muslim men who cover their face: The Tuareg in Mali, Algeria and Niger (at least the traditional ones). But on the other hand their women never cover their faces and the whole tribe is generally very liberal in religious matters. Women also have very strong positions in the family and can even divorce their husbands out of their own.
    By the way, nuns are not in question here, because I don’t know any Christian order where nuns cover their faces, only their heads. But that’s the uniform of their job and therefore acceptable just like the uniform of let’s say a FedEx-driver. Face-covering muslim women don’t belong to a certain profession and therefore it’s a very different matter.
    Bye the way: ban any sort of face-covering (including balaclavas or crash-helmets – the latter except where the law asks for it of course or safety-reasons require it, like on skiing-slopes), then the question of religion is off the table and the state could easily prosecute all offenders, regardless if Muslim, Christian or whatever.

  138. 171 T(not to be confused w/Tom in N.Z. or the other Tom in the States)
    January 26, 2010 at 22:42

    If these are banned, then will other fashions be banned as well? How will the French fashion industry deal with this potential loss of profits?

  139. 173 Linda from Italy
    January 26, 2010 at 22:44

    Listening to some of those unfortunate young women defending the tent. I would suggest they need the services of a good psychologist.
    If their interpretation of their religion causes so much angst about their bodies ( a gift from God?), the sort of neurosis that they have to wear baggier and baggier clothes because they are so frightened about I know not what, suggests mental illness rather than religion.

    • January 27, 2010 at 15:14

      Listening to you spout words like “weird,” “unfortunate,” “neurosis,” “mental illness,” and “tent” highlights your closed-mindedness. Women make “weird” decisions about their clothing all the time, from micro-minis to stiletto heels, to, frankly, uncomfortable brassieres simply because they seek to live up to society’s expectations. So why shouldn’t a woman be allowed to decide not to allow herself to be judged or objectified in this way?

  140. 175 Robyn
    January 26, 2010 at 23:38

    The holy text addresses “the faithful women” who are told to shield their private parts and not to display their adornment “except what is apparent of it”. …… I would interpret this as cover your sexual organs (boobs and bottoms – like we do in the west) and don’t put your beauty on display by drawing attention to it with makeup, etc. Except what is apparent of it – your natural beauty should be left alone, neither covered or highlighted.

  141. 176 Guillermo
    January 26, 2010 at 23:56

    The problem is that the women who are obliged to use the burka must be asked. If they are comfortable,if the 7 kg. of dress is practical, if their children can see them, or the limitation on a country that defends the women rights is correct. The Taliban are happy, because they can brag that their law is good even on the countries that oppose them. If the people that say that burka is a way of dressing, are the same that say that nuns and catholic priests are in the mood of medieval age. It has been proven that they are unhealthy. Men should not have an opinion in what they do not dress. Imagine the humiliation of the women that use burka. They are not equal to their fellow women. The ones that shout that burka is ok. should go to the talibans and congratulate them for their “gentle” law to women.

  142. January 27, 2010 at 00:16

    comment on burqa ban in France.
    If Muslim women cover their faces they are safe from “predators”. But the NON MUSLIM girls and women who go about freely are the first target of MUSLIM MEN who can chat them up so easily and freely and safely.
    But the SAME MEN will KILL a Muslim FEMALE seen walking with a NON Muslim guy. It is called HONOUR KILLING. Do the NON Muslims have NO honour?

  143. 178 Alex in Corvallis
    January 27, 2010 at 00:41

    A little geek perspective here from the US for anyone still reading this:

    Although they are a minority, we in this country have people who identify more with animals than humans and like to dress up accordingly (furries). There’s thousands of people like this and I’m sure there’ll be more as generations go by. I bring this up because I know those who want to wear their “fursuits” in public get harrassed by police and establishment owners because their costumes generally involve headgear that makes it impossible to see their real faces. Unless they are perfomers being hired by the store, management gets uncomfortable (and rightfully so) because if these people steal something or assault someone, how will they be identified? “It was a guy or girl in a panda suit, Offiicer.” I know many will write this off as a ridiculous example, but these people are serious in their beliefs and how they want to be viewed by the world. I don’t see any difference to the secular eye how they differ from women wearing the burqa. Yes, these folk are highly unlikely to do anything wrong but obscuring your identification in a secular country invites suspicion and mistrust; I agree that it is within an establishment’s right (or government in the case of public places) to require certain attire for service (“no shirts no shoes no service” as the saying goes). Otherwise, it should be a human’s choice to dress how they see fit. I hope the country and the women in question can come to a compromise where they can be identified when necessary and left to their own devices otherwise.

  144. 179 Ayla
    January 27, 2010 at 01:08

    The writer David is incorrect about the US and clothing bans. Wide leg pants and gang clothing such as hoodies are banned for men in many schools and workplaces. Bans on tank tops for girls, wide leg pants gang banger pants for boys, hats, hoodies, among others are banned in schools. This has been true for at least 40 years so clearly David is not american or hasn’t lived in that country for 40 or mor years so shouldn’t be spouting off about what americans believe.

  145. 180 Bert
    January 27, 2010 at 02:03

    It is a bit ironic, isn’t it? One good argument for banning the burka is the threat of terrorism, and even more, the threat of suicide bombers.

    I personally dislike overly in-your-face demonstrations of religiosity from any and all faiths, so at least esthetically, this ban is okay with me. However the security angle is no longer something that can be ignored.

    How many westerners would feel comfortable if people wore ski masks into banks, airports, restaurants, stores, or other public places? Even if you live in cold country, those masks come off when you’re not out in the weather. If you DO NOT live in very cold climates, then anyone wearing a ski mask can be assumed to be a criminal. Maybe not a suicide bomber, but a criminal.

    Are we compelled to make an exception here? For what reason?

    • 181 TomK in Mpls
      January 27, 2010 at 23:23

      You miss the point you ( unintentionally?) make. Under normal circumstances, ski mask fronts are raised to become a normal knit cap when not needed, such as in banks. Knit caps are legal in banks, and I am sure many ski masks are worn in banks, but pushed up. Burquas are only opened or removed under what they consider to be secure conditions. Even knowingly to the point of self endangerment under unusual circumstances. It is not a casual thing to them.

      As a reasonable alternative, laws could be written that under certain circumstances where the safety of *others* is a concern, they would not be allowed. This would give the person the choice to avoid these situations and not compromise their beliefs.

  146. 182 Ali
    January 27, 2010 at 02:18

    I am a muslim and feel it should be a woman’s choice. I thought the West supposed to be free and liberal. But the events of last few years namenly the illgal wars and current fashon in media and by government to attack muslim cultures, the rules are different if you are not white. one law for white one law for non-white. The freedom and values they talk about is only for them.

  147. 183 Abram
    January 27, 2010 at 04:32

    Men in Yemen carry around swords tied to their waste. Imagine some of these men wandering around London with unarmed British Bobbies.

    • 184 TomK in Mpls
      January 27, 2010 at 23:33

      In the US, anyone that has never been convicted of a felony can legally and openly carry guns or knives. Concealed weapons require a permit. Lock blade knives were common in smaller towns and blue collar urban areas only a few years ago. In general , it was not a problem. It is only in those rare cases that people want to use them for violent purposes that most get worried. In those cases, anything found laying around will usually do just as well.

  148. 185 James
    January 27, 2010 at 04:53

    Brilliant, I truly applaud it. Let’s hope Britain is next.

  149. 186 SCMehta
    January 27, 2010 at 06:06

    The favour recommended is absolutely O.K. and justified.

  150. 187 Togo Kasoro
    January 27, 2010 at 06:53

    Most human clothing relates to the climatic conditions..The BURKA and NIJAB is not Islamic wear.It is due to the desert like conditions that necessitates covering body parts. However since Islam developed in the desert region most new entrants to the religion copied what they saw in the major centres of Islam.If we are not careful Arabic culture(food,clothing,shelter,custom etc) will soon be forced on every Moslem in the name of Islam.
    Secondly ,we must make sure every human being is identified by the face and not otherwise.

  151. 188 Albert Judah
    January 27, 2010 at 09:51

    It is totally against western democratic values to implement such a law. I mean how else are we going to have a mass wave of suicide bombers dressed up as veiled muslim women?

  152. January 27, 2010 at 12:18

    Covering up women is not an ancient custom nor is there any reference to women having to hide themselves in the Quoran. Photograps of Iranian women taken at the beginning of the 20th century show that they are not even wearing a headscarf let alone a Burka. Hiding women under the Burka’s etc is simply an ugly manifestation of misogynist power to which some women meekly surrender and even collude with, claiming religious or spiritual belief is their principal motivation. Women who have the courage to take control of their own lives do not feel a pressure to make themselves invisable.

  153. 190 Ibrahim in UK
    January 27, 2010 at 13:02

    This has nothing to do with secularism or security or ski-mask comparisons. The Burqa was not an issue for decades before the war against the Taleban. Since then, France (and most of the West) has become conditioned to associate the Burqa with repression, so they are banning it. In their own minds, they are liberating people. In reality, they are also removing the freedom of choice from women who choose to wear the Burqa and are happy to do so.
    Seeing as only 2,000 out of the 60 million population of France actually wear the Burqa, it becomes apparent that this ban is more about populist posturing than defending French values.

    • 191 Bert
      January 27, 2010 at 17:39

      If the burka was not an issue in France in the past, Ibrahim, consider that perhaps this was because they were rare. Also, that the terrorism threat in the West had not been at the level it is today.

      You need to consider BOTH of those changes as reasons why opposition has been increasing so much. No culture wants to see itsaelf becoming undermined by new immigrants, and clearly wide acceptance of the burka is considered just such a detrimenal evolution.

      WHYS, can yopu please REMOVE this blue background in the compsition screen? Please? All it does is to make the text low resolution,. hard to read, and overall a huge annoyance. Many thanks.

  154. January 27, 2010 at 13:52


    The French have doen what they think is good for the Islamic Women in their country.

    as Long as the Muslims want to stay in a country that is not Islamic then they must abide by the rules that that country feels safe with.

    Look at Australia, that is one country that does not hesitate to say and do what is right for them.


  155. 193 Ronald Almeida
    January 27, 2010 at 14:57

    Women have suffered discremination subjugation and repression long enough let them at least finally chose what to wear on their own. This is a comment not only for the french authorities but also the Moslims who insist on it.

  156. 194 Colin Sundaram
    January 27, 2010 at 15:59

    27. 01. 2010


    Ineed it is a kind of emancipation for the French Muslim women. Can you comprehend why this veil thing was imposed on the Muslim women in the first instance? It must have been for one reason alone; protection of young women from rape. That’s when men were roaming around abducting young women one and half millennia ago for intercourse. When every one covers all over the kidnapper find it difficult to identify the good looking young one to choose from many. I do not know whether you know that Arab women usually move around in many numbers and their visit to shops or other houses take place during night. The reason again must have been the scorching sun. During night a black veil protects them from their would be tormentors’ attention etc. Even two hundred years ago kidnapping has been happening on a daily basis even in the civilized societies i.e. India. So one can imagine what kind of situation must have existed a millennium ago. There were no effective civil or criminal law and not enough policemen to maintain law and order and various clans were fighting with each other on a daily basis to dominate the other to usurp land, cattle and other valuables. Whenever armies like that of Alexander etc invaded other lands what was the priorities for the victor first and foremost women/young ladies.

    Under the cover of veil prostitution is easy to be done. Any woman can walk past her husband to have sex with another man without being noticed. The same veil can be used for smuggling anything. You may know that women were not supposed to be searched in many countries until recently. Beliefs of various kinds are injected into the minds of the people under different reasons to make them observe certain dress codes otherwise people will not obey the interdicts.

    What the French have done will make the world think why the veil was introduced first and whether it needs be continued etc.

  157. 195 bevx
    January 27, 2010 at 16:04

    It is well known that women in arab states are looked down upon by the menfolk.
    They hide them in public. But! at home when the yashmaks come off there are to be seen very beautiful ladies/girls and women.
    If their culture in their own countries OK. In our world they should be banned. It is an insult and an afront to the people in non muslim countries. I am well aware that a lot of muslims are peaceful minded people. The muslim radicals are the despicable people who wreck their savagery on our western cultures. THEY HAVE TO BE STOPPED AND IT IS TIME TO STOP TALKING AND TAKE REAL ACTION BEFORE IT IS REALLY TOO LATE

  158. 196 helen
    January 27, 2010 at 17:21

    Banning anything tends to have the effect of making the supporters of the target of the ban more determined to have their own way. As such , legislation is probably not the most effective way to deal with this issue.
    The impetus for reform in how Muslim women are treated must in the long term come from within the Muslim community. If I were a Muslim man I would be fighting against the imposition of such dress becuase I would be very offended that any should think that I was so unable to control myself that all women needed to be protected from me.
    However, since this form of dress has been used by fanatics to avoid detection, I do not think that any reasonable person could fail to understand that there are many situations in public life where the concealment of the face is inappropriate. Thus it must be reasonable for, banks, schools, hospitals, transport centres etc. to have alegal right to insist on the removal of any face covering, in the interests of security for all.

  159. 197 Uneza
    January 27, 2010 at 17:56

    @David Cadogan, Saudi Arabia is a KINGDOM, it doesnt necessarily represent Islam, but France claims to be a free country and that it does provide its citizens the rights of freedom, therefore it is bad on France’s part. As for Islam, it respects ppl’s religious views and identites, u cant provide me with one example when in the history of Islam, when there was Muslim rule, that ppl of other religious were treated in this way.

    • 198 Portuguese
      January 28, 2010 at 15:55

      I can provide you with two examples: the jewish in Iran and the orthodox in Turkey. Islam don`t respect other people`s identities and views as the other big religions don`t either. All of them try to impose their conservative ways of life on others.

  160. 199 Harry Webb
    January 27, 2010 at 18:59

    “worn by an estimated 2,000 Muslim women in the country.”

    Which just goes to show that this has nothing whatsoever to do with “Islam” per se.
    IMHO, Health and Safety considerations should always predominate over cultural sensitivities. The rot really set in during the 1970’s. When Sikh’s were excused from the requirement to wear a crash helmet whilst motorcycling!

  161. 200 robin rattansingh
    January 27, 2010 at 19:09

    disgusting!!!!!!!but us westerners can go into their islamic states and where jackets and ties hand bags and heels but they cannot excerise freedom in certain parts of europe?who are the extremists now?what a shame!!.iran and saudi states should export products to clients pending dress code approval.Shame on france always fronting but never winning.

  162. 201 Gary
    January 27, 2010 at 21:59

    I would confiscate the offending article of clothing in addition to the fine. Lots probably will refuse to pay the fines, in which case the ID card or carte de sejour of the individual should be cancelled or limited.

    The tent veil can just as easily hide a man as a woman with a bomb-belt or machine gun on either sex. If we don´t allow men in balaclavas to enter a bank or public office or allow kids wearing hoodies from shops then why are Muslims getting special treatment…

  163. 202 Ayla
    January 28, 2010 at 01:26

    France is a laic country the muslims knew that when they moved here. The can leave if they don’t like living in a secular country. The only reason they are here is to spread their islam everywhere in the world. They can gtfo of this country they don’t like it. Go back to their backwards ways where they perform genital mutilation on women, murder wormen, (stoning, burning), etc. They are in this country they need to respect our laws!!! Not their own. Or they can leave. I wish they would.

  164. 203 James Ian
    January 28, 2010 at 07:42

    I don’t know about doing muslim women a favor but that have improved safty.

  165. 204 Ronald Almeida
    January 28, 2010 at 08:22

    I do believe it is a primitive practice. But not every person or every culture or country progresses at the same rate in every aspect. There are aspects of life among all peoples including the west that may seem primitive to others too.
    In any case all prohibition only helps to make it more desirable. Like ‘The Forbidden Fruit’ of the bible.

  166. 205 Nico R.
    January 28, 2010 at 11:31

    While I’m personally opposed to government regulation of clothing apparel, religious or not, I’m not surprised that France is dealing with this issue so clumsily.

    Remember, the US contemplated and occasionally passed similar laws regulating the dress and comportment of immigrants like the Irish, the Italians and the Chinese.

    In the democratic process, these laws were eventually overturned and rejected for what they were, simple xenophobic responses to alien cultures.

    France has issues about it’s Frenchness just as the US, once a homogenous, white Protestant country had issues about Americanness with the influx of immigrant groups. The US is still dealing (at least on a political-cultural level) with the question of who is truly American and who isn’t.

    Given time, the majority of French people will recognize that if you speak French and live in France and were born in France or have citizenship, you are, in fact, French.

    I loved the show, and am sorry I’ve never heard it before.

  167. 206 K.Balakumaran
    January 28, 2010 at 19:41

    Yes,certainly they did the Muslim women a favour.When I spoke to one woman who told me that if she does not wear that her husband told her to divorce her.The women suffocate by covering their faces.They will get headaches if they cover their heads.But If it is in a Muslim country,that is essential and be respected. But in the west young girls did not like it and listen to western music which is against the Religion.The boys who should be growing long beards are not growing to identify as Muslims.They should be wearing a Turban like the sikhs wearing to separately identifying themselves.All in all the men are not following the tradition and force the women to follow the tradition and it is not welcomed in the west.so that the french did a favour to women from suppression.If you come to live in the west ,try to follow the west and free yourself from the backward cultures.Look at Mr Sarwar M.P,Lord Ahmed,Muslim ministers,they are clean shaven and not act as pure Muslims and set a role model to others not to be rigid in following the mullahs.

  168. 207 aero
    January 29, 2010 at 02:59

    I don’t think the French did any favors for Muslim women. Muslim women who ware the Niqab and burka by intelligent choice or through obligation are not ‘free’ or ‘liberated’ just by not wearing the particular items of clothing. Their social relation and are customs of dress are dictated by a religious belief, for those who subscribe to such a belief in ‘modest dress’ through the waring of the Niqab and burka. Why didn’t France dictate the conduct of the husband of a Muslim woman to ensure he treats her with respect and gives allows her rights of secular liberty in public places? To arrive at the sought of secular liberation the French law dictates is discriminatory in this religious context because it legislates against the values of free choice as secularism upholds. Can anyone legislate against freedom of choice, and expression that is enshrined in many secular nations as France claims to be? Why was legislation not leveled at other religious groups who prescribe a particular mode of dress that idealizes modesty? Why not remove the screen in the confessional box? It too is a barrier to accepted face to face communication. This new law has nothing to do with women’s rights, rather it tries to address Islamic extremism through a political resolve.

  169. January 29, 2010 at 04:14

    I am a little confused how telling women what they can and can not wear, and where they can wear it, is progress for women’s rights.

    I see secularism as the separation of church and state. I feel that the church should not intrude in the affairs of the state and that the state should equally not impose it’s own religious views on its people.

    The idea that a secular state would reduce the rights of people to practice their religion the way they seem fit, seems no different to me from a religious state imposing it’s religion on all it’s people. It is two sides of the same coin, and it is wrong in both cases.

    How is France telling muslim women they can’t get government services if they don’t dress they way the French government sees as appropriate any different from a muslim country telling women that they can’t get government services if they don’t dress they way that government sees fit?

    I don’t see what all the fuss is about. If these women are wearing this because they have to and don’t really want to, then they need a whole lot more help than just imposing a ban that will serve to isolate them further. If they are wearing this by choice and they like the way they feel wearing it they why on earth should they not be allowed to do so.

    Fear and prejudice make people do odd things that make no sense.

  170. January 29, 2010 at 18:19

    Obviously, many of the above writers still have no understanding as to about what the United States of America is in respect to “religion” or personal freedom. The USA has a Constitution, that is, a supreme law of the land which applies to every person within its borders. We the people, the citizens, of the USA adopted that supreme law of the nation in order to provide PEACE within its borders. In the USA, no person is above the law. In the USA, anarchy, that is, every person lives by his or her own laws, is not allowed. In the USA every person lives by the laws of the state or nation. “Religion” is left to every person to BELIEVE whatever he or she chooses, but “religion” is not established by law, that is, is not above the law, and no man or woman in the USA is allowed to violate the laws of the land because of “religion” opinions. It does not make any difference if a person is a Jew, a Muslim, a Christian, a Hindu, a Buddhist, or an atheist, in the USA its laws relating to actions apply to every person, regardless of religion opinion.

    Further, no man or woman in the USA is allowed to violate the laws of the nation because of personal opinions of any kind, whether political, racial, or whatever. The opposite kind of social order is anarchy, that is, the absence of government or law. The USA exists under a written Constitution, voted into existence by the people of the United States. In other words, no one within the borders of the USA is a law unto himself or herself. Further, the law applies to everyone. One of the fundamental constitutional understandings in the USA is that “religion” will not be established by law, that is, religion is merely a personal matter of belief and will not be made legal by law or government at any level: “no religious test for public office,” Art. 6., and “no law” even respecting an establishment of “religion,” First Amendment.

    In the USA, everyone has freedom to believe whatever, but no one has freedom to actions which violate the laws of the land. That understanding maintains peace and order and applies equally to everyone. In that “freedom” the USA exists and prospers as a nation in harmony within the adopted laws of a “republic” and a society, under law, in which every citizen practices democracy though a voting process in which every vote counts.

    Additional understanding about the USA and religion is a part of the website cited above and in the book The Religion Commandments in the Constitution: A Primer, available from Amazon.com.

  171. January 30, 2010 at 01:17

    @gene Garman…. I think we are discussing France in this blog? I am not clear how the US constitution applies here. I don’t think it is a requirement for everyone around the world to be familiar with our Constitution when they are discussing events in another country.

    It is true that people should abide by laws, however it is also true that those laws should be sensible, logical and made to protect the citizen, not oppress them. They should also not be determined by prejudice, ignorance or misinformation.

    Those same sentiments gave rise to laws in the states that years ago would have required me to sit in the back of the bus, not enter certain places, or sit at certain counters only because of the color of my skin.

  172. 211 Alan Afriat
    January 30, 2010 at 11:49

    French legislation to “ban the burka” may not be wise and will quite possibly result in an angry backlash from the muslim population.

    Possibly they are approaching the problem from the wrong end – It might be wiser to make it legal for any person or enterprise to refuse to admit, serve or communicate with any person whose face is concealed.

    This would of course include persons of any sex, colour or creed including bank robbers, burglers, muggers and rapists!

  173. 212 Gene Garman, M.Div.
    February 1, 2010 at 04:27

    In the USA personal freedoms are determined by the laws of the land, regardless of religion or personal opinion of any kind. In the USA everyone obeys all laws and all laws apply equally to everyone within it borders. The USA is a nation of written laws, not personal opinions. the issue is that simple to understand. If the law says you cannot cover your face, then you cannot cover your face. Any contrary opinion is irrelevant and any action to contrary is illegal. No one has a choice in matters of civil law. If anyone is interested in reading a book on the subject, The Religion Commandments in the Constitution is available from Amazon.com. It is a serious explanation about the place and legal role of religion in the USA.

  174. 213 Bonduh Jerome
    February 2, 2010 at 20:16

    What I can say is that many criminals both men and women hide behind the Burka, because it helps to hide the person so well such that they cross police controls unnoticed. Muslims hide behind religion to perpetrate dangerous acts, the burka was a good weapon to transport female Alqaida and Taliban fighters to the west.
    The burka is a bad religious misinterpretation that is causing so much ham to both the Muslim and non Muslim people, the burka is a hide out for criminals.

  175. February 10, 2010 at 13:09

    Im a women and like to open my small business but i didn’t found any support for me! but suddenly someone surprise me and give me a help it was a small loan but for me im so happy coz it was the start and the begining of my success , so coz of that im here now posting just to say so rarely to found these days person who care.

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