Is France waking up to Muslim encroachment?

On June 22, 2009, France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy launched an attack on a small but growing number of fundamentalist women in a “state of the nation” speech that was the first by a French President to both houses of parliament since 1873. It it, Sarkozy called the practice of French Muslim women in France who wear the burka called their full-body dress a “debasement of women”.

“In our country we cannot accept that women be prisoners behind a screen, cut off from all social life, deprived of all identity. The burka is not a religious sign. It is a sign of subservience, a sign of debasement. It will not be welcome on the territory of the French Republic.” – French President Sarkozy, from speech given to French parliament, Versailles.

Mr Sarkozy’ statements reflect a a strong consensus that has emerged against women in France’s five million-strong Muslim community who wear the full or nearly-full cover of their bodies and faces. The latest French controversy over Muslim dress, which follows the 2004 ban on head-cover in state schools, began this month when 60 MPs from both sides of the house demanded action against the burka and the niqab.

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