Sarkozy Leads France Into Battle

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

New York Times Paris bureau chief Steve Erlanger, and Nicole Bacharan, political analyst and associate researcher at Sciences Po., Paris, discuss the full-face veil ban's reception in France and reaction to President Sarkozy's push toward intervention in the Middle East.


Nicole Bacharan and Steven Erlanger

Comments [22]

Eric from Manhattan

90% of all human communication is through body language and facial expression... not words (sorry Brian.) How can one communicate effectively with a woman who lives in a walking tent! How do we know that covered person is really who he/she claims she is?

In the U.S. it is illegal to wear nothing... as in being naked in public. Is the U.S. government limiting my freedom of expression?

Apr. 14 2011 10:42 AM
Stefan from NJ

what if we would let people in US to wear long winter coats and face masks in public (like Halloween ones) all year round? Can you imagine these people entering the banks, federal buildings or boarding the planes or subway trains? How many pounds of explosives can one hide under the burka? How you can tell it is male or female under such an outfit? So I believe it is a real threat to public security...

Apr. 13 2011 05:37 PM
Don B. from Redding

RE: religion, clothing, and women.

As a former catholic I remember that nuns dressed totally in black and wore head veils at all times and no one objected. In France the outrageous habits of the Sister's of Charity and their wing-like head pieces were not a topic of concern. It strikes me as hypocritical that France now objects to a women wearing all black and head veils.

Religious rules for dressing women of religion everywhere have always been made by MEN.

When a western woman is subject to sexual assault in a Muslim country, my reaction is that the woman was not covered in black. Men have ruled that all women must be covered all over because "MEN CANNOT CONTROL THEMSELVES."

Apr. 13 2011 10:03 AM
Mike from Tribeca

What's wrong with a person choosing their own fashion statement? How is that anyone's, particularly the state's, business? If she could have, Margaret Thatcher would probably have banned the punk rock look.

Apr. 12 2011 11:27 AM
Alexis de Mockeville from NJ

French-American here.

This is a law against mental slavery, against oppression through brainwashing (particularly religious brainwashing). This law, in a small way, *protects* individual freedoms from oppression by religious and anti-egalitarian and anti-democratic forces.

Several European nations have laws that, to an American, would appear to limit freedom of expression and freedom of religion. But these laws are designed to protect individual liberties, not from restrictions from the government, but from other forces religious, corporate, and political.

European democracies were toppled a number of times in the past by fascist, communist, religious, and corporate forces (and sometimes all of the above combined). They want to make sure this doesn't happen again.

Americans thing that liberties can only be threatened by the government. Europeans know for a fact that liberties are more threatened by religious and corporate entities. The government is there to protect individual freedoms and equality from these intrinsically anti-democratic entities.

In fact, Americans might want to learn a few tricks from their European friends. Their freedom and privacy are routinely trampled by private organizations that are intrinsically anti-democratic: religious organizations brainwashing them from birth and taking their money, corporate entities tracking their private lives, rich people buying politicians to work against the best interests of their constituents, the list goes on.

Apr. 12 2011 11:11 AM
gidget from Manhattan

I completely agree with France. At some point it seems silly to keep saying its about religious freedom. There needs to be a line drawn and hiding your face as you go around in a modern society should be that line. I fully believe that if there were burkas all over Texas you would see the US public freaking out. If you want to live in such an oppressive state, then people should move out of France and to a state that likes Burkas. Why is the world being forced to follow militant Muslim ideology, we are not Muslim.

Apr. 12 2011 10:55 AM
CL from NY

Claiming that allowing the veil is tantamount to promoting religious freedom is disingenuous, at best. This practice is plainly part of an institutionalized repression of women and a vile anti-modernist dogma. The fact that some women in France might choose to cover themselves and the suggestion that yarmulke-wearing is somehow relevant to this argument are both mere rhetorical ploys to shift the focus away from what is really at stake.

Another program that managed to take an important topic and dilute it with weak thinking and fatuous "moderation.". So "balanced" and so WRONG.

Apr. 12 2011 10:51 AM
klapin from Brooklyn, NY

The French law about wearing religious symbols in schools prohibits wearing ostenstible and visible religous symbols in public schools.

Apr. 12 2011 10:49 AM
bernie from bklyn

jeez brian...don't you see the difference between a yamulke and a full-veil burqua? there's no comparison. and the commenter who brought up beards. are you serious? when did the collective IQ of the listeners plummet? do you all understand the level of oppression in the muslim community?
and btw, there's plenty of that in orthodox judaism also.

Apr. 12 2011 10:48 AM
Robert from NYC

So it's fashion?

Apr. 12 2011 10:46 AM
john from office

It comes down to womans rights. It is time for Islam to meet the 21st century. I see it in brooklyn all the time, the full veil and burka, it is not American, western or modern.

Apr. 12 2011 10:46 AM
Mike from Tribeca

I understand your guest is not American, and probably doesn't know our nation's religious history, but before the Revolution each state had its own established allowed religion, always Christian but of differing denominations. It wasn't all about "Anglicism," Brian.

Apr. 12 2011 10:45 AM
Dorothy from Manhattan

Presumably, Brian, you'd be fine with people wandering around NY in ski masks -- You sound so holier than thou...

Apr. 12 2011 10:43 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Once agaiin, LEFT WING SOPHISTRY is used by Brian to split hairs. Absolutely in a secular country people should have to show their face to their fellow citizens. Otherwise they are trying to hide their identity for possibly nefarious reasons.

Apr. 12 2011 10:43 AM
Lozach from NYC

Isnt there a law (unenforced) on the books right here in NY that you cannot wear a disguise in public?
Whats the difference.

Apr. 12 2011 10:42 AM
Pauline Park from Queens

I lived in France for 6 months as well as in Belgium for 5 months, Germany for 4 months, and the UK for 2 years. I'm ambivalent about the ban because it is true that the niqab is the embodiment of the subordination of women in Muslim communities, but the ban constitutes a breach of freedom of religion & religious expression on the part of Muslims and it is most definitely part of Sarkozy's attempt to pander to the racist far right; you cannot understand the ban without understanding the context of rising Islamophobia in France & throughout Europe.

Apr. 12 2011 10:42 AM
Cesar from Manhattan

Why not outlaw beards for the same reason? It's a silly law with serious consequences that erodes the freedom of citizens.

Apr. 12 2011 10:42 AM
bernie from bklyn

brian- are you kidding me? why should the state enforce this? don't you think the state should enforce laws that protect women from obvious oppression?
maybe france should let muslim men stone to death adulterous women also?

Apr. 12 2011 10:41 AM
carolita from nyc

As I recall, way before this veil ban, you could not enter a bank wearing a hat and sunglasses. You'd have to remove them so the camera in the vestibule could see you, and only then would they open the second set of doors and let you enter. It was a matter of security. Perhaps that's why I was not surprised by the veil ban on the grounds of security. You have to know who's under those veils/glasses&hat for security reasons.
I was also there during the time of frequent (or so it seemed while i was there) bombings in the city, before 9/11. There was a feeling of insecurity. You had gendarmes checking your handbag at the doors of department stores. You have to put yourself in the shoes of the French to understand.

Apr. 12 2011 10:39 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Good for Sarkozy! France is now 10% Muslim, and Sarkozy is BELATEDLY trying to save France from being ISlamized, IT may be too late, but I pray for France even if they did betray its Jews during WWII. I'd hate to see France fall as it did to the Germans in WWII. Oh well, it's up to the French people to decide. I wish them luck.

Apr. 12 2011 10:38 AM
bernie from bklyn

the requirement for muslim women to wear a burqua and especially the full-veil birqua is oppression in it's highest form. i'm sorry but there can be no other interpretation of this. yes, i know it's a "custom" at this point and many muslim women claim it's their choice to wear it, but that's only because they've been brainwashed for generations into believing this.
it comes down to one reason- insecurity of muslim men. the rest of the world can't see your wife's nose or forearm? why? because men will see the nose and jump on their wife or daughter and rape them immediately? classic male insecurity. classic male weakness.

Apr. 12 2011 10:34 AM
Walter Ellis

In his promo piece for the segment on Nicholas Sarkozy, Brian referred to the French President's "pandering to the anti-Muslim right" by banning the burqha.This is an outrageous characterization of the truth. France is a determinedly secular country (unlike the United States, which shows every sign of becoming an Evangelical theocracy). Sarkozy is protecting a principle that has been an important feature of French life since the Revolution. This is not to say that there isn't anti-Muslim sentiment in France. There is. But banning the veil is part of this only in the obvious sense that some Muslims (not all) are trying hard to cross the line and impose their religious culture on France as a whole. Liberals on public radio are in the spotlight these days. They should not make themselves easy targets.

Apr. 12 2011 10:24 AM

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