What’s threatening about European attacks on Muslim veils

“The anti-burqa cause is sweeping Europe. In addition to Belgium and France, Italy and the Netherlands are considering bans. Yet the targets of these measures are virtually nonexistent. Mr. Bacquelaine estimates that a couple of hundred women in Belgium wear a full veil. In France, one study estimated that there are 1,900 burqa wearers in a Muslim population of 5 million.

“The idea that this poses a criminal or cultural threat is ludicrous. Those who say they are defending women’s rights have it exactly backward: They are violating fundamental rights to free expression and religious freedom…. Muslims, including the devoutly religious, are in Europe to stay. Banning their customs, their clothing or their places of worship will not make them more European. It will only make Europe less free.”

Editorial in the Washington Post, 1 May 2010