Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Clash of west and east

One of today's news stories (yes, I'm a CNN addict) is about how French President Sarkozy made a statement that the burqa (head-to-toe Muslim covering for woman...worn primarily in Afghanistan but also used in other countries) is no longer welcome in France. He said that this is not an issue of religious freedom, but rather an issue of women's rights. He continued on to say that the burqa is a symbol of women's subservience. As someone who grew up in France, this is particularly interesting to me. France prides itself for its secularism, and for several years now a debate has raged over the issue of religious symbols in France. There was the big headscarf affair, which results in the banning of any overt religious symbols in French schools (the law was passed in 2004, and although it covers all religious symbols including crucifixes and other christian symbols, it is believed to primarily target the wearing of the hijab or headscarf). The French government is now considering a law that would actually outlaw the burqa. It's an interesting clash of West and East. I grew up in France and now live in the Middle East. Although I haven't yet seen a burqa here, many women wear the abaya, hijab, and nikab...which basically has the same effect minus the screen covering the face. The argument here is that this is a traditional dress, and protects the modesty of women; however, I would tend to agree more with President Sarkozy. Anyway, I'll keep this short and not get on my soapbox...but I thought this was interesting! Here's a link to the article:

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