President Nicolas Sarkozy addressed Parliament on Monday, laying out a vision of France that included a withering critique of burqas as an unacceptable symbol of
Speaking at the Palace of Versailles, Mr. Sarkozy confronted one of the most hotly debated social issues in France, saying there was no room in the republic for burqas, the garments that some Muslim women wear to cloak their bodies and faces.
“The issue of the burqa is not a religious issue. It is a question of freedom and of women’s dignity,” Mr. Sarkozy said. “The burqa is not a religious sign. It is a sign of the subjugation, of the submission, of women.”
That, you might say, is a bold statement. Dude must want a fatwa or something.
One of the more important differences between the United States and France is the the French have no trouble being categorical in their views, and this is an example of that. While you'll often hear jokes about the French being "cheese eating surrender monkeys" or somesuch, the idea of France and what it means to be French is something they take very seriously.
Europe generally, and France in particular, have much to worry about concerning the spread of fundamentalist Islam. Mark Steyn has written quite a lot on this subject. Much of the reason is that the French colonial empire extended well into the Muslim world and now former French subjects from the Maghreb are coming to France. The burqa is indeed symbolic of a type of Islam that is as certain of its worldview as the French are of theirs. Those who have battled the French in the sometimes horrifying banlieue areas around Paris and other large French cities are quite often the same people who would, if given the opportunity, impose the burqa.
We don't have the issue here, at least yet. The issue is larger than the burqa, though. And Sarkozy knows this.