Insights from the UK and beyond
Should the burkha be banned in Britain?
“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. “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 issue arose in Britain three years ago when Jack Straw asked Muslim women wearing veils to remove them when they visited his Blackburn constituency surgery. He called the veils a “visible statement of separation and difference.”
The Muslim Council of Britain has criticised Sarkozy. Individuals, it says, must have the freedom to choose their attire on the basis of deeply-held religious beliefs.
It adds: “The MCB echoes US President Barack Obama’s caution that ‘it is important for Western countries to avoid impeding Muslim citizens from practising religion as they see fit – for instance, by dictating what clothes a Muslim woman should wear. We cannot disguise hostility towards any religion behind the pretence of liberalism.’
What do you think — should the burkha disappear from Britain’s streets?