“The problem of the burka is not a religious problem. This is an issue of a woman’s freedom and dignity. This is not a religious symbol. It is a sign of subservience; it is a sign of lowering. I want to say solemnly, the burka is not welcome in France,” Sarkozy told lawmakers.
The French Parliament has appointed a panel to study banning the burka.
In 2004, the French parliament passed legislation banning Muslim girls from wearing headscarves in state schools, prompting widespread Muslim protests. The law also banned other conspicuous religious symbols including Sikh turbans, large Christian crucifixes and Jewish skull caps.
Last year, France’s top court denied a Moroccan woman’s naturalization request on the grounds that she wore a burka.
Some lawmakers have called for burkas to be banned completely, claiming they are degrading to women. They also include housing minister Fadela Amara, a Muslim-born women’s rights campaigner, who has called the garment “a kind of tomb for women.”
“We cannot accept in our country women trapped behind a fence, cut off from social life, deprived of any identity. This is not the idea that we have of a woman’s dignity,” Sarkozy said Monday.