French President Sarkozy has good intentions [Sarkozy's Right About Islamic Debasement: The Burkha Is an Offense Against Women, usnews.com]. I think historically the burkha was designed to control women and make them feel inferior. However, I have to agree that if France were to ban it, essentially an item of clothing, it would be discriminatory and counterproductive from a rights perspective. I definitely see the national security argument as a better reason for its banning.
Comment by Joshua F. of AZ
The burkha is a symbol of oppression. There is no place for it in a free society such as France. Islamic countries have their laws (associated with religion) and France is more than allowed to make its own laws in support of women's rights. As long as the majority of the citizens agree, I'm not sure I see the big deal here.
Comment by Maria of FL
One of the justifications of people who agree with Sarkozy's attempts to ban the burkha is that when we go to an Islamic country we are required to wear their garments. However, this is tantamount to saying that we should copy them. We are an open, free, democratic society and some Islamic countries are not. Just because they impose restrictions of dress upon their citizens should not give us the right to dictate the same unless we do so for legitimate rational reasons. The Constitution of the United States protects religious freedom. Infringing upon the religious rights of a citizen can only be done if the state can articulate a compelling reason to do so. In the case of Sarkozy's attempt to ban the burkha, the state articulates protection of women, but it is a disguise for something else. If Islamic women who wear burkhas articulated that they felt oppressed, then and only then can this justification be considered. The individual right to practice his/her religion is weighed against the state's interest. In this case the test would not favor the banning of burkhas.
Comment by Gabe of TX
Let's reverse this scenario. Imagine if Egypt made it law that you could "not" wear western clothing, because it went against Egyptian values. I'm a strong supporter of freedom of expression, so I'm offended when someone tries to restrict that. Women in western countries technically wear the burkha out of choice. Banning it will not free women from repression; it will take away their expression. And no, I'm not a Muslim.
Comment by Joe of DE
A number of Muslim countries require that men wear beards, even if they are only visiting and are not Muslims. There's not much difference. It's not a big deal; most of us would probably be happy to have an excuse not to shave. But the principle is the same: I don't feel I should have to grow a beard. Just the same, Muslim women should not have to give up their burkhas any more than they should be forced to wear them. Just how "free" are we in America, anyway? Test your freedom and you'll find it is actually quite limited. That said, there are plenty more pressing concerns greater than what women do or do not wear.
Comment by Rich of CO