Share this story
Close X
Switch to Desktop Site

Ban the burqa? Or ban such bans?

Neither France nor Iran should dictate religious garb.

About these ads

It may be hard for an American to fathom – this idea that government would dictate a religious dress code.

That goes too far in so many ways. It violates the separation of church and state. It suppresses religious freedom. And in a broader sense, it squelches identity – for isn't fashion (religious or not) a means of self-expression?

The American view has its sympathizers in other countries, but also its strenuous opponents. In France, for example, President Nicolas Sarkozy this week endorsed the idea of a ban on the burqa. This is the conservative Islamic head-to-toe covering with mesh or a slit at the face that is worn by some Muslim women in public. (In the Persian Gulf states it's known as a niqab.)

Mr. Sarkozy called the burqa "subservience," not religious garb. "In our country, we cannot accept that women be prisoners behind a screen, cut off from all social life, deprived of all identity." A parliamentary panel will study whether a ban is warranted.

In Iran, the Islamic government takes just the opposite view. Women must be mostly covered – hair, neck, and loose-fitting clothes on the body – as a sign of religious morality. A "spring thaw" from 1997 to 2005 under a reformist president allowed a liberal interpretation of the dress code, but the current president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, revved up the morality police to once again enforce it.


Page:   1   |   2   |   3

Follow Stories Like This
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.