Why France's burqa-ban proposal is wrong

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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Regarding the May 20 news story "France moves to ban Islamic veils":

The latest legislation put forth by the French government to ban the full-face veil for Muslim women reflects xenophobia about a practice that continues to be misunderstood by the majority of the population. Modesty is a cornerstone of Islam for both men and women. Wearing the full-face veil is a practice, though followed by a minority, to realize that attribute, and it is ultimately the woman's right and choice.

I find it laughable that French President Nicolas Sarkozy says that the legislation stems from a "moral responsibility" to uphold European values even though banning the veil does nothing but demonize devout Muslims as potential threats and ironically marginalizes a predominantly immigrant population that continues to battle racism, unemployment and a crippled economy.

Instead of recognizing the importance of religion to non-Christians, other Western European governments have chosen to destroy symbolic elements of the "other" -- such as banning minarets in Switzerland.

I am not sure which is more repulsive: the French government's sacrificing the individual's right for the sake of purity (homogeneity) in the Republic or the unspoken assumption that veiled Muslim women don't know they are being repressed.

Kaukab Kay, Clarksville

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French President Nicolas Sarkozy claims that banning burqas would uphold traditional European values. Unless he is referring to the values of a few infamous European dictators, he could not be more mistaken.

The bedrock of European cultural and political traditions is liberalism. A true liberal understands that the use of force, by which all government edicts are ultimately backed, is neither an effective nor moral means of promoting values. Banning an expression of religious conviction in the name of protecting a liberal culture is the stuff of satire.

Force is the tool of those who lack the competence or courage to peacefully persuade.

Isaac M. Morehouse, Falls Church


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