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France gets closer to banning the veil

by Brad A. Greenberg

July 13, 2010 | 9:18 am

 

The train has been coming down the tracks for some time now. From the BBC:

France’s lower house of parliament has approved a ban on wearing the Islamic full veil in public.

It must now be ratified by the Senate in September to become law.

Opinion polls suggest the ban has overwhelming public support but critics point out that only a tiny minority of French Muslims wear the full veil.

President Nicolas Sarkozy supports the bill as part of a debate on French identity but critics say the government is pandering to far-right voters.

Something frightening is afoot in France. And it has little to do with the veil. In fact, some Muslims, like Mona Eltahawy, support a burqa ban. (I don’t think Burqa Barbie does.) But the French measures seems to be coming from a very xenophobic place.

Europe’s largest Muslim population lives in France—this is largely due to immigration but also a remnant of colonialism—and they have been both a source of fear and a victim of it.

But France is not alone. Spain and Belgium are debating similar measures, and two years ago Holland banned the burqa on college campuses.

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