(French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner on Europe 1 radio, 2 May 2010/Dailymotion)
France hasn’t even presented its draft bill to outlaw Muslim face veils yet — in contrast to Belgium, which has started voting on its ban — but Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner is already preparing for the wave of criticism from abroad it will provoke. He told Europe 1 radio on Sunday that he’d already warned the government at a cabinet meeting about what to expect.
“The United States are very attached to religious liberty and there will be lots of NGOs and American foundations that will want to point out our mistake,” he said (in the video above in French). “I think they’ll also be convinced that we are for religious liberty but there is no religious recommendation to veil one’s face.
“There will certainly also be European countries that will protest, like Denmark, the Netherlands, etc. that will say what about religious liberty, we’ve already tackled this problem.
“There will be some Muslim countries, and in some Muslim countries — for example in Pakistan and Turkey — we’ll be criticised. There are also countries that condemn to death apostates, people who leave their religion — they’ll protest. And then there’s a last country, Saudi Arabia, that will say ‘in your country, you have the right to do what you like, but in my country I also have the right to do what I want, for example not let women drive.”