Will France ban the veil?

“Secularism is the religion of contemporary France. And the enforcers of that faith have a new target. ‘Today… we are confronted by certain Muslim women wearing the burqa, which covers and fully envelops the body and the head like a moving prison,’ said Andre Gérin, a Communist Party legislator who joined 57 others Wednesday in signing a motion for a parliamentary committee to study possible legislation to ban the wearing of the traditional costume in public….

“But what about the rights of Muslim women who honestly feel faith-bound to voluntarily don a burka? Or those prohibited by law from attending public school with the headscarfs they wear everywhere else? Why is no one ranting about nuns’ habits being ‘degrading’ (as Gerin called the burqa), just as no one lashed out at creeping extremism when then-First Lady Bernadette Chirac covered her head during Vatican visits?

“Probably because Catholicism has deep roots in French history and culture, and is not viewed as a foreign faith the way Islam is ….”

Bruce Crumley in Time, 19 June 2009

See also “Muslim council slams call for burqa inquiry”, AFP, 18 June 2009