Say what you like about the French (go on, you know you want to), but they do take their secularism seriously. Good for them!\
Bless their little silk socks, a French parliamentary committee is underway to decide whether or not the burqa - fashionista garb of choice for devout Muslim women near and far -is a symbol of subjugation rather than faith, and, therefore, a mode of dress with no place in the French republic.
The inquiry, upon which 32 parliamentarians will turn their attentions, won't report for another six months, and when they do, they will announce whether wearing a burqa is incompatible with secularism, and if so, whether the solution to the dissonance is an outright ban on the head to toe covering.
Five years ago
In the small cacophony of opinion expressed prior to the announcement of the inquiry, the burqa was variously described, by the French PM and other pollies, as a degrading prison depriving women of identity, dignity and social life, a sign of submission, a garb that undermines women's rights and secular values.
If Aussies find Muslim women's choice of outdoor wear confronting - and for many it is, let's not pretend otherwise - the French, unlike us, eschew political correctness:
"The sight of these imprisoned women is already intolerable to us … It is totally unacceptable on French soil"
On the opposing side of the debate, Irfan Yusuf gets all sentimental about days of ye olde, waxing lyrical about Muslim women who used to lounge about in their burqas, waited on hand and foot by servants, with their primary undertaking in life being regular shopping outings to buy luxuries for themselves.
His little refrain about his maternal (Indian) grandfather's insistence that the women of his household practice a form of traditional aristocratic seclusion known as purdah is so grossly misplaced it's impossible to know what matter of substance he was hoping to contribute to current public discourse. As a defense of the burqa, the intellectual argument - if you can find one in the irrelevant history snippet offered by Yusuf - is, at best, opaque and dishonest.
If his is the best effort anyone can present in favor of contemporary burqa-wearing, then long live a ban on the burqa, not just in
French may outlaw burqa