Cheese. Wine. Baguettes. These are all seemingly welcomed signifiers of French identity. Burqas? Not so welcome.
France has been debating a ban on the head-to-toe garment for some time now. Most recently, the country's immigration minister Eric Besson said yesterday that burqas should not be worn on French streets because they are not part of the country's "national identity."
Besson wants the government to reaffirm national pride by having a "great debate" about what it means to be French. With more than five million Muslims living in France (the largest Muslim population in Western Europe), doesn't French identity include Muslim traditions? It sounds like Besson, who was born in Morocco, disagrees. Based on his previous statements, being French means speaking better French if you're an immigrant and having more opportunities to sing the national anthem if you're a kid in school.
Do you think the French government has a right to dictate dress codes under the guise of "maintaining tradition," or should it be more accepting of minority and immigrant group influences? Would you worry if US officials organized a meeting to decide what it means to be American?