Sarkozy: Burqas "Not Welcome" In France - U2 Feedback

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Old 06-22-2009, 06:47 PM   #1
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Sarkozy: Burqas "Not Welcome" In France

(AP) June 22

PARIS — President Nicolas Sarkozy declared Monday that the Islamic burqa is not welcome in France, branding the face-covering, body-length gown as a symbol of subservience that suppresses women's identities and turns them into "prisoners behind a screen."

But there was a mixed message in the tough words: an admission that the country's long-held principle of ethnic assimilation, which insists that newcomers shed their traditions and adapt to French culture, is failing because it doesn't give immigrants and their French-born children a fair chance.

In a high-profile speech to lawmakers in the historic chateau at Versailles, Sarkozy said the head-to-toe Muslim body coverings were in disaccord with French values-some of the strongest language against burqas from a European leader at a time when some Western officials have been seeking to ease tensions with the Muslim world.

"In our country, we cannot accept that women be prisoners behind a screen, cut off from all social life, deprived of all identity," Sarkozy said to extended applause of the lawmakers gathered where French kings once held court.

"The burqa is not a religious sign, it's a sign of subservience, a sign of debasement. I want to say it solemnly," he said. "It will not be welcome on the territory of the French Republic."

Some Muslim leaders interpret the Quran to require that women wear a headscarf, niqab or burqa in the presence of a man who is not their husband or close relative.

France is home to Western Europe's largest population of Muslims, estimated at about 5 million. A small but growing group of French women wear burqas and niqabs, which either cloak the entire body or cover everything but the eyes.

Critics fear the issue of full-body coverings, which only involves a tiny minority of French Muslims, could increase discrimination against all Muslims who display their faith in any way.

Dalil Boubakeur, director of the largest Paris mosque, said Sarkozy's push to keep out the burqa is typical of French culture, but worried that he might inflame tensions with Muslims.

The president wanted to show that "the rules of life in France and that you can just bring in unjustified traditions," Boubakeur said.

"But you have to hope inshallah (God willing) that there won't be any ill-feeling, controversies or incidents in this confrontation between an Eastern idea and Western life," Boubakeur told the AP in a telephone interview. "Or then eastern Muslims will have to return to the Orient ... completely unable to assimilate and uncomfortable in a Western system."

But Sarkozy also said immigrants face economic challenges in France, and the government needs to do more to help them.

"Who doesn't see that our integration model isn't working any more?" Sarkozy said. "Instead of producing equality, it produces inequality. Instead of producing cohesion, it creates resentment."

The unemployment rate for immigrants and their French-born children is higher than the national average. Many children of immigrants complain of discrimination, saying they get passed over for jobs because they have "foreign-sounding" names. Frustration of many children of north African and black immigrants boiled over in France's three-week wave of riots in 2005.

The burqa comments made up only a few lines of Sarkozy's speech, which focused on the global economic crisis and a Cabinet shake-up expected to be announced Wednesday. The address was the first by a French president to parliament in 136 years; the last was in 1873, before lawmakers banned the practice to protect the separation of powers and keep the president in check. That ban was scrapped last year.

In France, the terms "burqa" and "niqab" often are used interchangeably. A burqa is a full-body covering worn largely in Afghanistan with only a mesh screen over the eyes. A niqab is a full-body veil, often black, with slits for the eyes.

Muslim groups and government officials say it's hard to know how many women wear burqas and niqabs in France- though estimated to be at least in the hundreds. They are far less prevalent than simpler Muslim head scarves.

A 2004 law banned wearing the Muslim head scarf at public schools, along with Jewish skullcaps and large Christian crosses. That law sparked fierce debate both at home and abroad.

In a visit to Normandy earlier this month, President Barack Obama addressed France's headscarf ban, saying countries handle such issues with their national sensitivities and histories in mind, before adding: "I will tell you that in the United States our basic attitude is, is that we're not going to tell people what to wear."

The French government has been divided on a burqa ban. Immigration Minister Eric Besson said a ban would only "create tensions," while junior minister for human rights Rama Yade said she was open to a ban if it was aimed at protecting women forced to wear the burqa.

The burqa has come under criticism in some parts of Europe. In 2003, Sweden's National Agency for Education gave schools the right to ban pupils from wearing burqas if it interferes with the teaching or safety regulations.

The Dutch government last year described the burqa and other clothing that covers the face, as "undesirable," but the ruling coalition stopped short of attempting a ban amid concerns of possible religious discrimination. But the government did say it would work toward banning burqas in schools and among public servants, saying that they stand in the way of good communication.

Later Monday, Sarkozy hosted a state dinner with Sheik Hamad Bin Jassem Al Thani of Qatar _ a Persian Gulf state where women often wear niqabs. The emir was joined by one of his wives, Sheika Mozah, whose head was covered in an elegant turban.
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Old 06-22-2009, 06:49 PM   #2
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Can someone fix my typo (burqas) in the title? You can't edit titles anymore, I guess. Thanks.
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Old 06-22-2009, 07:00 PM   #3
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Dont care about France but i find them very antisocial.
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Old 06-22-2009, 07:01 PM   #4
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How can you tell if a girl is fit or not if her face is covered?
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Old 06-22-2009, 07:11 PM   #5
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Can someone fix my typo (burqas) in the title? You can't edit titles anymore, I guess. Thanks.
I thought you were saying that someone with the unusual name of 'Sarkozy-Burquas' was not welcome in France.
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Old 06-22-2009, 07:14 PM   #6
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I'm still not used to typing with longer nails
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Old 06-22-2009, 07:29 PM   #7
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I thought you were saying that someone with the unusual name of 'Sarkozy-Burquas' was not welcome in France.
This cracks me up so hard, because I thought the same.
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Old 06-22-2009, 07:30 PM   #8
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whats with the Madhuri Dixit avatar?
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Old 06-22-2009, 07:32 PM   #9
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Madhuri Dixit is the queen of the universe, that's what.
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Old 06-22-2009, 07:32 PM   #10
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"The burqa is not a religious sign, it's a sign of subservience, a sign of debasement. I want to say it solemnly," he said.
It's really not for him to put words in his own citizens' mouths in this way. Debates about the acceptability of veiling one's face in certain specific situations are one thing, but this is simply not his place to dictate.

Props to him for openly acknowledging the reality of France's problems with economically assimilating its large immigrant populations, though.
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Old 06-22-2009, 07:35 PM   #11
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Madhuri Dixit is the queen of the universe, that's what.
Fair enough!
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Old 06-22-2009, 08:10 PM   #12
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Sarkozy has an interesting view on assimilation or integration here. For years, the French government had built whole areas around the greater French cities, in order to provide housing for the large groups of North African immigrants who were coming to France after the decolonization of Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria. That was the biggest mistake the French government made. The problem was that, in this way, these immigrants didn't become part of the daily French life and culture, this lead, unintendedly, to segregation, which can lead to xenophobia and racism on both sides.

It is very naive to say that a burqua ban will help to assimilate these immigrants in the French society. There is always a freedom of religion and opinion, wether you like it or not. Instead of helping muslim women who are being oppressed, they will feel like being pushed away again, so they will turn to their own culture instead. This was the case in Holland after member of parliament Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a feminist ex muslim woman born in Somalia, made it her task to liberate oppressed muslim women in the Netherlands. Her intentions were good, I think, but she was too radical and eventually the muslim women turned away and she became unreliable. Not all these women are oppressed and if they are, their emancipation should be one step at the time. That is better than bashing the Qur'an right in their face!

The best thing a government can do is bannig burqas on the work floor, because it obstructs communication between people and it is rude (in the western world) when you can't see the facial expression of the other person. I agree that wearing a burqa or a niqab should be discouraged. When a woman wants to express her religion she can always wear a hijab (headscarf) which shows the face.

More factors Sarkozy should consider is the deep rooted discrimination and the spreading of immigrants, in order to stop 'ghetto formation'.
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Old 06-22-2009, 08:14 PM   #13
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I'm still not used to typing with longer nails
I bite mine, but I'm still suffering from typing typhus sometimes
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Old 06-23-2009, 04:07 AM   #14
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It's really not for him to put words in his own citizens' mouths in this way. Debates about the acceptability of veiling one's face in certain specific situations are one thing, but this is simply not his place to dictate.
He looks like Napoleon (little bit), he is as short as Napoleon, how could he not dictate his nation.

After Sarkozy almost single-handedly destroyed all prospects and efforts of integrating the great number of French immigrants he now looks for straws to lay the blame on.
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Old 06-24-2009, 09:15 AM   #15
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Sarkozy has an interesting view on assimilation or integration here. For years, the French government had built whole areas around the greater French cities, in order to provide housing for the large groups of North African immigrants who were coming to France after the decolonization of Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria. That was the biggest mistake the French government made. The problem was that, in this way, these immigrants didn't become part of the daily French life and culture, this lead, unintendedly, to segregation, which can lead to xenophobia and racism on both sides.

It is very naive to say that a burqua ban will help to assimilate these immigrants in the French society. There is always a freedom of religion and opinion, wether you like it or not. Instead of helping muslim women who are being oppressed, they will feel like being pushed away again, so they will turn to their own culture instead. This was the case in Holland after member of parliament Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a feminist ex muslim woman born in Somalia, made it her task to liberate oppressed muslim women in the Netherlands. Her intentions were good, I think, but she was too radical and eventually the muslim women turned away and she became unreliable. Not all these women are oppressed and if they are, their emancipation should be one step at the time. That is better than bashing the Qur'an right in their face!

More factors Sarkozy should consider is the deep rooted discrimination and the spreading of immigrants, in order to stop 'ghetto formation'.
Great post

But i do disagree with banning of the burqas altogether. For a lot of women it is totally ingrained in their society and their sense of self. If suddenly we were told that wearing a bra, or covering our breasts was wrong and debasing and we were denied cloth to cover them, we would feel untterly exposed and uncomfortable. Just like those women who believe that it is a sin and an unbelieviable humiliation for another man to see their face or their body. We come from this issue from a society where the body is not as "reverend" as the islamic society. So we have a different opinion. Not every woman who wears it burqa is forced into it and unhappy, but in fact find it comforting and familiar. Sarqoksy needs to realise when an opinion is an opinion and not FACT.
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