Sarkozy backs demand for burkhas to be banned

He said they are ‘a sign of subservience’ for women

President Sarkozy has risked the wrath of Muslims by backing demands for the burkha to be banned.

He declared that the full-body religious gown is a sign of the ‘debasement‘ of women.
‘In our country, we cannot accept that women be prisoners behind a screen, cut off from all social life, deprived of all identity,’ he said to extended applause in Versailles, at a joint session of France‘s two houses of parliament.

‘The burkha is not a religious sign, it’s a sign of subservience, a sign of debasement. It will not be welcome on the territory of the French Republic.’

The president was supporting a weekend call by dozens of French politicians for a parliamentary commission to study whether the burkha, which is growing in popularity in France, should be banned.

France has Western Europe’s largest Muslim population, an estimated 5million. Despite this the French enacted a law in 2004 banning the Islamic headscarf and other conspicuous religious symbols from public schools.

Last year, the country’s highest court refused to grant French citizenship to a Moroccan woman who wears a burkha, on the grounds that her Muslim practices were incompatible with French gender equality and secularism laws.

Sarkozy’s comments put him at odds with President Barack Obama who, in a speech in Cairo this month, said that the U.S. prized freedom of religion and declared: ‘We are not going to tell people what to wear.’

If Sarkozy succeeds, France will become the first and only country to ban the wearing of the burkha.

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