Burka Is 'Not Welcome' in France: Sarkozy

Prez says religious covering a sign of female 'subservience'
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 22, 2009 1:03 PM CDT
French President Nicolas Sarkozy welcomes Emir Of Qatar Sheik Hamed Bin Khalifa Al Thani prior to their meeting at The Elysee Palace in Paris today.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Nicolas Sarkozy today spoke out strongly against Islamic coverings for women, like the burka, the BBC reports. In a rare speech to parliament, which is considering a ban, the French president said, “we cannot accept to have in our country women who are prisoners behind netting. … The burka is not a sign of religion, it is a sign of subservience. It will not be welcome on the territory of the French republic.”

“That is not the idea that the French republic has of women’s dignity,” Sarkozy continued. The president stressed, however, that “the Muslim religion must be respected as much as other religions.” A leading French Muslim has called discussion of a ban “a way of stigmatizing Islam.” (Read more Nicolas Sarkozy stories.)