|Nicolas Sarkozy: burqa not welcome in France
Telegraph: President Nicolas Sarkozy has said that the Islamic burqa is ‘not welcome’ in France.
In a speech at the Palace of Versailles, Mr Sarkozy said that the head-to-toe Islamic garment for women was not a symbol of religion but a sign of subservience for women. “The burka is not a sign of religion, it is a sign of subservience,” he told members of both parliamentary houses gathered for his speech. He added: “It will not be welcome on the territory of the French republic.”
While I find the burqa distasteful if it is ‘required’ to be worn, the difficulty with this statement by the president of France is that it undermines the freedom of those who choose to wear it. By choice, of course, I mean free choice.
The French are concerned that the wearing of any religious symbols undermines the secular tradition. The irony with that position is that it places secularism in the same position as religions which feel threatened or undermined by non-believers. Perhaps no religions should be recognised by the state – or supported by the state? – for therein would lie equality before the law and removal of ‘discrimination’. For my own part if people choose to believe in something, they should be free to do so provided it does not cause harm to or impinge on the rights and freedoms of others. That, however, is another problem with religions – they just can’t help themselves. They have to convert, they have to interfere, they have to control. This is why I am an atheist.