Sarkozy Backs Drive to Eliminate the Burqa

June 22, 2009

Author: Doreen Carvajal

Source: The New York Times

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 “enslavement.”

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.”

To enthusiastic applause, he said, “I want to say solemnly that it will not be welcome on our territory.”

Mr. Sarkozy gave his speech, a sober, wide-ranging address, in the first presidential appearance before Parliament since Charles Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte’s in the 19th century.