The New York Times heavily criticized the proposed French ban on the full veil in public services in an editorial yesterday. Today, an op-ed is equally critical, demonstrating a clash between the American and French models for integrating minorities.
The New York Times’ editorial yesterday slammed France for considering a ban on the burqa in hospitals, public transport and other public service. “People must be free to make these decisions for themselves, not have them imposed by governments or imposed by police,” the paper says.
Because there are so few women who wear the full veil, they are a “temptingly cheap electoral target,” the editorial says.
The paper points out that “Muslim-bashing” has been a potent vote getter for French far-right politicians such as Jean-Marie le Pen and accuses the French President of “trying to peel some of those votes away” with a “foolish sometimes menacing ‘national debate’on French identity” over the past few months.
“No political gain can justify hate mongering,” it concludes.
Sandeep Gopalan writing in today’s New York Times says banning the burqa is not really about the veil itself – only 1,900 women wear the full veil in France.
“French citizens and politicians feel that they need to restore Frenchness to their streets.”
Referring to a commission report presented to the French parliament this week which said wearing the full veil “is a challenge to our Republic” Gopalan notes that “with fewer than 2000 women wearing it, France must be built on weak foundations.”
“The irony of fighting repression with a ban seems to have escaped notice.”
“What is proposed is a serious invasion of personal liberty witout reasonable justification.”
She concludes: “France should instead invest in persuading the Muslim community to discard the veil voluntarily… Bans only breed resentment and discord.”
Other stories in today’s international papers:
Barack Obama’s State of the Union address
The New York Times: “Obama to Party: Don’t ‘Run for the Hills’”
Huffington Post: “Obama freeze forfeits America’s future”
The Washington Post: “First thoughts on President Obama's state of the union address”
The Independent: “To rehabilitate these criminals without justice is a betrayal” (Guissou Jahangiri)