And the support comes from across the political spectrum. “Ban on burqas receives strong public support in France,” by John Follain in The Sunday Times, January 24:
A report drawn up by French MPs will this week call for a ban on Afghan-style burqas and other garments that cover a woman’s face.
The proposal has strong public support. According to an opinion poll by Ipsos for the magazine Le Point, 57% of voters favour a ban while 37% are opposed.
The recommendations of a parliamentary commission, to be published on Tuesday, are expected to include a bar on wearing full veils on public transport and in schools, hospitals and public-sector offices including post offices. The commission is thought likely to call for a total ban after further consultation.
President Nicolas Sarkozy launched a debate on veils last June, telling a special sitting of both houses of parliament that they were “not welcome” in France. He said last week the full veil was “contrary to our values and to the ideals we have of women’s dignity”.
He is reportedly reluctant to impose a total ban, saying he would prefer a national consensus on the issue. His centre-right party, the UMP, is divided….
AndrÃ© Gerin, the Communist MP who heads the commission, predicted the ban would be “absolute”. He has denounced what he called “French-style Talibans”. “The veil is only the visible part of the iceberg,” he said.
Hassen Chalghoumi, a Tunisian-born imam in northern Paris, backed the proposed ban last week, saying full-face veils had no basis in Islam and “belong to a tiny minority tradition reflecting an ideology that scuttles the Muslim religion”.
“The burqa is a prison for women, a tool of sexist domination,” he said.
Opponents of a ban argue it would stigmatise Muslims. “France would be the only country in the world that sends its policemen … to stop in the street young women who are victims more than they are guilty,” wrote Laurent Joffrin, editor of the left-wing newspaper LibÃ©ration.
Police officers in some areas with large Muslim communities have warned that stopping women wearing veils would provoke riots.
No kidding, really?