Sarkozy wrong over the burka

Sarkozy wrong over the burka – Halifax Today

Published Date: 01 July 2009
Prescott Street
I write further to the recent comments made by the French president Nicolas Sarkozy, regarding the wearing of a veil and burka by Muslim women.
It is ironic that on the one hand the West raises allegations against Islam that it compels and is harsh, whereas on the other hand we have here a so-called democratic state meddling and interfering in personal matters of others.
Rather than promoting unity and understanding, President Sarkozy used his address on June 22, 2009, to perpetuate pre-existing false stereotypes.
His comments are extremely unhelpful and indeed regrettable, particularly coming from the head of state of acountry in which there are around five million Muslims. President Sarkozy’s comments also directly contradict comments made by President Barack Obama recently in a speech in Cairo on June 4 where he said:
“It is important for Western countries to avoid impeding Muslim citizens from practising religion as they see fit – for instance, by dictating what clothes a Muslim woman should wear. We can’t disguise hostility towards any religion behind the pretence of liberalism.”
It appears that this is exactly what President Sarkozy is doing – he is hiding behind the veil of liberalism to disguise the hostility towards Islam.
Moreover, his views on the burka are both factually wrong and ill-informed. The burka is an item of religious dress which many Muslim women choose to wear. However no Muslim woman should be forced to wear it because a fundamental teaching of Islam is that “there shall be no compulsion in religion.” France should adopt the policy of Britain which is not to interfere in an individual’s personal matter which is exactly what a secular and democratic state should do.
Muslims in Britain are extremely fortunate that they can practice their religion freely – a right which is not even enjoyed in some so-called Muslim states.
There is no punishment in Islam for not wearing the veil yet here a so-called enlightened State is attempting to punish its citizens for the clothing they wear. What a tragedy.
Is the French Government now going to follow and show Taliban-like tendencies by dictating what people can and can’t do? I certainly hope not.
I do hope that France does not pursue this legislation which would contravene both Article 18 of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights and France’s Declaration of Rights of Man and of the Citizen on which the French Constitution is based. These ensure freedom to practise religion and hold religious beliefs.
For freedom to reign, freedom must be preserved.
Farooq Aftab

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