The New York Times reported today that the President of France Nicolas Sarkozy has “ordered legislation” that bans women from covering their faces in public, one step closer to outlawing the niqab and the burqa. He moves ahead, apparently ignoring his own constitutional experts who recently stated that a universal ban of this type could violate France’s constitution.
According to the New York Times, President Sarkozy has stated on numerous occasions that Islamic veils are oppressive and ”not welcome” in their country.
Just a few weeks ago on March 31, a Belgium parliamentary committee voted unanimously for a universal ban on niqabs and burqas, which could take effect as early as July. (click here for article on Belgium’s ban)
Bans of this type certainly serve a purpose—marginalizing, stigmatizing, alienating. But surely whatever issues that these government officials perceive concerning the veil could be addressed in a more constructive manner. That these officials choose the easy, but divisive, path sends a clear message, regardless of the reasons proffered.