WASHINGTON - In the battle of the burqa, the two Western presidents from two international defenders of freedom, France and America, are finding
no common ground.
On Monday, French President Nicolas Sarkozy forcefully condemned the burqa, the traditional female dress for some segments of Islam that covers a
woman from head to toe, as a form of enslavement. And he vowed to ban it from the French republic.
Mr. Sarkozy's position, offered in a speech to Parliament, followed by less than a month American President Obama's opposite take on the subject of
covering by Muslim women.
In his Cairo speech to the Muslim world earlier this month, Mr. Obama called on Western countries "to avoid dictating what clothes a Muslim women
should wear," saying such action constituted "hostility" towards religion clothed in "the pretense of liberalism."
To seal the Franco-American fashion debate, the issue subsequently divided the two leaders – both male, it should be noted – when they met in
Normandy to commemorate the 65th anniversary of D-Day on June 6. Please visit the link provided for the complete story.
This is probably a difficult issue for Obama, as whatever he says, some people will disagree with him.
I am sympathetic to both points of view. The libertarian in me favors Obama's position, and the feminist favors Sarkozy's.
If I absolutely had to make a choice, though, I'd probably choose Obama's stance. Women should be free to wear whatever they want to, within the
bounds of the law (e.g. New York City women can go topless without getting arrested, whereas they might be charged with indecent exposure in another
part of America). We have freedom of religion and within that women have the right to wear whatever religious garb they choose.
Sarkozy is right in that it should be clear that women also have the right to be free to not
wear religious garments if they choose.
It's a hard decision, but I think Obama is making the best one.
[edit on 26-6-2009 by Sestias]