The French cabinet last month approved legislation to ban women in France from wearing full Islamic face-coverings, the burqa, and niqab, in public areas. France, which contains Europe’s largest Muslim population, has been headed in this direction for a while.
President Nicolas Sarkozy says that his government is defending France’s secular values and protecting women's rights. His critics see Islamophobia and political opportunism behind the move and believe it is a sign that official France still does not fully accept citizens of immigrant origin.
So, is the wearing of a burqa contrary to Western values? Do people have a right to see the face of the person they are speaking with in a public arena? By allowing burqas in public places are Western societies giving in to repressive, anti-female, religious traditions? Is it right that Muslim women must cover their entire faces while men have no such restriction?