France vs. the burqa
In a State of the Union-like address today to a joint session of the French parliament, President Sa
rkozy threw his weight behind a proposal to set up a commission to consider banning the wearing of burqas outside of the home. France is a country that takes liberalism, freedom of religion and the separation of church and state very seriously. So it is an substantial, but not necessarily surprising, development. France, you may remember, passed a law in 2004 prohibiting the wearing of religious symbols and clothing in public schools.
What is interesting from a philosophical point of view is that liberalism underlies both the case for and the case against banning the burqa. The case against, of course, rests on freedom of religion; the case for, on preventing the oppression of women. On Wednesday, I will consider this conflict in more detail – for now enjoy some recent press on the speech here, here, here and here.
Photo by Flickr user tinou bao used under a Creative Commons Attribution license.