Appearance: Like a kaftan, but more controversial.
You mean a kaftan for your head? I could do with one of those when it gets blowy. You obviously need something to stop the wind whistling between your ears. That’s a hijab you’re describing. The burqa is the loose overgarment some Muslim women wear outside their homes. It covers everything but their hands, feet and sometimes eyes.
I now feel competent to report on Muslim fashion week. Is that why we’re talking about this? Pas du tout – we’re talking about this because France wants to ban it. From 11 April anyone who “conceals their face” in a public place can be fined €150 (more than £130) and sent on a citizenship course.
And the law actually singles out burqas? Mais non! That would suggest it was a despicable attempt to make life harder for an already stigmatised minority. You could theoretically be fined for sitting in a cinema with a paper bag on your head. But it follows parliament’s ruling that the burqa is inconsistent with republican values. To give the lawmakers their due . . .
Do we have to? Some of them oppose the burqa only because they see it as a symbol of sexual oppression.
Do they see a lot of burqas around their way then? I’ve never seen one in France. Nor have many French people. The official estimate is that there are only 2,000 wearers of them.
And what’s the situation this side of the channel? Simply intolerable, according to the Daily Mail’s Richard Littlejohn. As he said recently: “Most of us just think anyone who wears a burqa in Britain is barking mad and wonder why someone who so utterly rejects our society and our liberal values would want to live here.”
This is all rather depressing. Is there any silver lining? I refer you to my previous answer: Britain’s most xenophobic columnist is now obliged to think approvingly of the French. As he’d put it, you couldn’t make it up.
Don’t say: “French women should be free to wear whatever they like . . .”
Do say: “As long as it’s not a burqa.”
Is the burka ban only targetting Muslim women or will it also target traditional Jew women too. The French, Belgian, Swiss, Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, Dutch, German and American bigots conviniently forget that burka is a sign of piety and part of the traditional dress of the Jews, Christians and Muslims of Arabia and beyond. Note a few Yemeni Jewesses wearing burka and learn a thing or two about tolerance; see below:
Nicolas Sarkozy’s cabinet approves bill to ban full Islamic veil. Despite warnings move could be anti-constitutional, French president gives it his full backing
Kenza Drider, born in France to Moroccan immigrant parents, who defends the right to wear the veil.
Islamic veils face ban in Belgium. Belgium to outlaw burqas and niqabs in public but human rights campaigners say ban violates religious freedom