Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Veil Ban Moves Forward in France

CNN reports that France's lower legislative house passed legislation today (by a 335-1 vote) that would criminalize the act of wearing a face-covering veil in public. The bill is clearly aimed as Muslim women, especially those who wear the full-body burqa. Women convicted under the statute would face a monetary fine or enrollment in "citizenship" courses. The bill still has to receive approval in the Senate, which will take up the issue in September.

I've never understood the French tendency to turn secularism into a tool of oppression--this is about the clearest case of infringing religious liberty I can imagine, as there is no pressing government need here that would outweigh the sincere religious belief of Muslim women who choose to wear burqas. The "feminist" argument that Muslim women are not freely choosing to wear the burqa may or may not be true in certain cases, but a complete ban strikes me as paternalism at its worst.

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