Sarkozy’s Anti-Burqa Policy

French President Nicolas Sarkozy his declared that burqas, a garment worn by some Muslim women that covers all but the eyes, are “not welcome in France”. His reasons seem pretty good, as he said that burqas are a symbol of women’s subservience, not a religious symbol. Which is all very nice, but who gave him the right to decide?

I really don’t know that much about the culture of burqas I guess, but from what I’ve gathered I really don’t think that choosing to wear a body-covering garment should be forbidden by the government. A law that says all women must be covered in the company of men would be discriminatory, but so is forbidding women from wearing a certain kind of clothing. Thoughts?


3 thoughts on “Sarkozy’s Anti-Burqa Policy

  1. Two weeks ago, after reading a big piece on Sarkozy ( and his wrestling with this issue again, I made a post on FB, thinking I was so with it. ~
    This is a fascinating essay on France and the US arguing over the symbolism of liberating Muslim Women. Why is it so revolutionary to suggest that it should be an international panel of women discussing the use and meaning of clothes? That is my idea of liberation. “Mr Obama, Mr Sarkozy, The phone is for you, Paulo Freire calling.”

    A friend of mine, who is both forgiving and Egyptian, wrote back to me

    “Zoe thanks for that, but wearing a Burka (which covers he face) is not moslem ruling in the Koran it is more cultural from the old arab tribes. Koran ruling prefer a woman to have her hair covered not her face , her hands and her feet. I see Burka as a bit over the board.”

    The reason I mention it is to make a big note to self ~ that this is a very complex issue and the people who live with it, live by it, understand it ~ are the ones who should be making decisions. Then, should they want governmental support, they can ask for it. Power from above is almost never good, never right.

    You may find it interesting that in the early days of NOW, there was a Religion Chair. They knew that so many, if not all, of the really big decisions are made from within the human conscience and, for the most part, they are informed by religion. Doesn’t matter if we agree or not – to understand society, we need to understand religion ~ not just slam the door because most of it is oppressive and, certainly, patriarchal.

    I wish NOW would expand diversity to include religion and age. With NOW turning 43 this year, age is a big divide too.


  2. If the burqa needs to be banned, then so do six-inch stilettos. Wearing them causes physical harm. I’d also support banning plastic surgery that mutilates women as they pursue unrealistic beauty standards. Chemical makeup needs to be illegal. Say, those beauty standards come from fashion magazines, so those need to be banned, too.

    Sounds silly when we’re talking about Western clothing, huh?

    This proposed burqa ban says a lot more about cultural intolerance than it does about any real concern for women’s rights.


  3. I think it depends on something I am woefully uninformed about – the opinion of the Muslim women in question.

    If Sarkozy is simply adding his support to a movement already taking place, then I think it’s the right thing to do, from a feminist perspective. However, if it’s a contested issue among Muslim women, them I think he ought to get out of it.

    Frankly, I don’t see what right he thinks he has to ban any sort of religious clothing, period. Yay for living in America.


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