Description: Topic One – Ban the burqa? Or ban such bans?
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has endorsed the idea of a ban on the burqa. This is the conservative Islamic head-to-toe covering with mesh or a slit at the face that is worn by some Muslim women in public. Mr. Sarkozy called the burqa "subservience," not religious garb. Now the UK is taking up the issue as well. In Iran, the Islamic government takes just the opposite view. Women must be mostly covered – hair, neck, and loose-fitting clothes on the body – as a sign of religious morality. A "spring thaw" from 1997 to 2005 under a reformist president allowed a liberal interpretation of the dress code, but the current president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, revved up the morality police to once again enforce it. It may be hard for an American to fathom – this idea that government would dictate a religious dress code. Why? Because it violates the separation of church and state. It suppresses religious freedom. And in a broader sense, it squelches identity – for isn't fashion (religious or not) a means of self-expression? We revisit the issue of the burqa. Ban the burqa? Or ban such bans? We want to hear from you.