French President Nicolas Sarkozy regards himself as a defender of basic French values, among which is the need to ensure that all citizens are able to see the faces of others. OK, take off your clothes, fine, walk around without a bra, OK, wear a motorcycle helmet that hides the face, terrific, as long as the rider is not a Muslim woman. He told parliament that France, historically, has been based on values that foster the desire for all to live together in harmony. “A full veil which completely hides the face is an attack on those values, which for us are so fundamental.” He is introducing a bill that criminalizes the wearing of a burqa or the niqab by Muslim women. “Citizenship has to be lived with an uncovered face.” Funny, I studied the French Revolution, but do not recall any such goal of the revolutionaries.
Mr. Sarkozy apparently has not studied French history. The idea that France welcomed people of all backgrounds to become part of the national community is a joke. Nick, do you recall the furor over the Dreyfus case, the neo-Nazi groups during the 1930s, the Vichy government which readily delivered Jews to the Nazis? France has always demonstrated both bigotry and warmth to strangers. Surely, 2,000 Muslim women wearing veils will not threaten to destroy France.