Several European leaders are apparently looking to fight oppression with oppression.
Last week, French President Nicolas Sarkozy condemned the wearing of burkhas — headgear worn (sometimes voluntarily, sometimes not) by Muslim women. He said burkhas “will not be welcome on the territory of the French Republic” and members of France’s parliament are considering whether or not a ban would be appropriate.
In Great Britain, a member of parliament echoed Sarkozy’s sentiment saying of burkha wearing, “it does not belong in 21st century Britain.” but seemed to stop short of calling for a ban.
It’s obvious that thousands of women the world over are forced to wear head coverings in the name of Islam and, yes, the practice is seen as ridiculous for those of us who don’t believe there is a sky god running a heavenly version of “What Not to Wear.” But secular prohibitions are no better than religious dogma in this case and this seems like a clear attack on the freedom of those women who wish to wear burkhas as a religious expression. Our focus as a society ought to be on ostracizing those governments that force religious practice into the secular arena like Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and, yes, sometimes the United States. How about putting Le Fashion Gendarmes on the back-burner and go after the source of the problem — religious zealots who violate their fellow humans’ rights.