France has long upheld the importance of separation of church and state in many aspects of society such as education. Five years ago, a law was passed which forbid children from wearing the Muslim headscarf or any other “conspicuous” religious symbol while in school. Luc Chatel, a government spokesperson, respond to requests from some MPs who wanted an inquiry into the “degrading” use of the burka and niqab in public, by saying, “If it were determined that wearing the burka is a submissive act, and that it is contrary to republican principles, naturally parliament would have to drawn the necessary conclusions.” There are no official figures as to how many Muslim women wear the full veil in France, but it probably is in the low thousands, at best.
The issue is not how many wear the full burka or why they wear it, but the rights of women to wear what they damn well please. Why is the government of France– or any government — getting into issues of what women wear? Men and women go around with ugly tattoos, but no one seems to care, boys and girls have rings in their noses or ears, but no one seems to care. A Muslim woman has the right to wear what she desires as do women who wear black at funerals. It is bad enough France interferes with the rights of young girls in school attire, but this is ridiculous.
I have taught Muslim women who wear the full veil and the class proceeded as usual.