French Panel: Ban Burqas In Public Buildings

January 26, 2010

Author: El

Source: NPR

A commission in France recommended Tuesday that the full Islamic veil, or burqa, be outlawed in public buildings such as schools and hospitals.

For the past six months, a debate over the burqa has embroiled the country — and it's not over yet.

The debate erupted last summer when President Nicolas Sarkozy abruptly declared the all-encompassing, face-covering veil unwelcome in France.

"The burqa is not a religious problem," he told the French Parliament in a state-of-the-union-style address. "It's a problem of freedom and the dignity of women."

Sarkozy said the burqa, which allows the wearer to see through a cloth mesh, and its close cousin, the niqab, which leaves a slit for the eyes, subjugates women. A parliamentary commission began looking into the issue.