Italy to follow France in Burqa Ban?
France is on the road to banning full facial veils, a move set to be followed
France is on the road to banning full facial veils in state-run hospitals, government departments and public transport, a move which will include denying medical, transport or other public services to women who refuse to uncover their faces. President Nicolas Sarkozy has made it clear he favours a complete ban. He called the burqa a sign of female enslavement and subservience. and insisted the garments had no place in France. The move it seems is catching . Italy reportedly is also contemplating a burqa ban. Mara Carfagna, Italy’s Minister for Equal Opportunities said the Italian government will follow in France·s footsteps, and drive forward four parliamentary draft bills now under discussion. ·I completely agree with the French initiative, which I think will push other European countries towards similar legislation,· she said. She called it ·a sacrosanct battle” to defend the dignity and rights of immigrant women
French Prime Minister Francois Fillon is currently awaiting views from the Council of State, on the feasibility of the proposed law in France. Mr. Fillon wrote asking the council, by end March, to review the legal options for such a ban without trampling on the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution. The recommendations also propose that anyone visibly showing signs of ·radical religious practice· be refused citizenship. The drafting of a bill and a parliamentary debate will follow once the Council of State has given its views.
France’s five million Muslims are the largest such community in Europe, and after Roman Catholicism, Islam is the second most practised religion in France. Some reports claim fewer than 2,000 women wear the burqa or the niqab and there is widespread concern in some quarters that Muslims are in danger of being stigmatised by the calls for the ban.
However in explaining the decision, Bernard Accoyer, Speaker of the French Assembly said: ·The wearing of the full veil is a challenge to our Republic. We must condemn this excess. The veil represents everything France rejects. It is the symbol of enslavement of women and as the report says the flag of extremist fundamentalism· .
Meanwhile a trial has just started in Holland with what the UK’s Daily Telegraph calls “unparalleled significance for the future of Europe”. The trial of Geert Wilders leader of the most voted for political party in the Netherlands has garnered hardly any attention in the mainstream press . But the blogosphere (blogs.telegraph.co.uk) is making up for it. The Wilders trial, related as it is to assertive Islam, highlights a curious dichotomy in the attitudes of EU governments towards fundamental issues of Western values and the right to free speech.
Story: Ken Pottinger