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June 24th, 2009
04:46 PM ET

In battle of the burqa, Obama and Sarkozy differ

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Program Note: Sarkozy's statement comes as debate rages in France about Muslim women wearing the covering, with some French lawmakers calling for a ban on them. Watch the full report Tonight AC360° at 10 p.m. ET 

Howard LaFranchi
The Christian Science Monitor

In the battle of the burqa, the two Western presidents from two international defenders of freedom, France and America, are finding no common ground.

On Monday, French President Nicolas Sarkozy forcefully condemned the burqa, the traditional female dress for some segments of Islam that covers a woman from head to toe, as a form of enslavement. And he vowed to ban it from the French republic.

Mr. Sarkozy's position, offered in a speech to Parliament, followed by less than a month American President Obama's opposite take on the subject of covering by Muslim women.

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soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. Lionheart

    This is sad. Islam should liberate their females and give them equal place as men. How long will Islam remain in the past? Why can't they understand the liberal hearts of the French and see things through their perspectives?

    June 25, 2009 at 3:01 am |
  2. Shahd

    Is the French president acting? he left all the troubles that are happening in the world and out of the sudden he wants to supposrt the muslim woman by opperessing her and force her to do what he wants. is that contradictory to what he actually wants to do. I think he wants attention and he got it.

    June 25, 2009 at 2:21 am |
  3. Itai

    and what is sarkozy saying about a catholic nun?
    free the poor catholic women who have to wear a penguin uniform?
    what a religious cruelity in rom berlin paris london.. the whole western or christian world.. since years these poor nuns have to wear this penguin uniform, to hide theyr hairs and theyr (maybe) beautyfull body because the christian religious extremists dictate it

    sarkozy should beginn to clean the dirt in his own house so he will get maybe a great example for the muslims... but pointing at muslims whyle the own nuns look the same as the muslim women... sarkozy cant find a better problem whyle the own french workers are protesting all the time because his desaster which he calls politic

    sarkozy is mow mutating from a miserable politic comedian into a fashion dictator

    what is his masterplan?
    is he trying now to do a commedy battle with his italian mate berlusconi?

    this two guys should get a show at prime time... and let the politics to some serious guys

    June 25, 2009 at 1:28 am |
  4. j l mcfadden

    the people of any country want only what we want, a roof above, food for the family, a job and educational opportunity.
    the religious leadership in iran do not have any interest in any of the above. the objective is to continue to repress the people for their own desires.
    the problem is the extreme religious leadership wants only what they think is right for the whole. it appears the people are saying the religious leaders are wrong. the official government voice is full of lies which does not surprise anyone. we need to be very supportive of the protesters in hopes this wrong can and will be corrected.

    June 24, 2009 at 10:52 pm |
  5. Cheeco

    The french president is doing everyone a favour

    June 24, 2009 at 9:12 pm |
  6. Mike, Syracuse, NY

    @John, you nailed that one. Funny how Obama opposes school prayer, but supports Islamic religious expression. Maybe he should run for President of Iran. He'd fit right in.

    June 24, 2009 at 8:14 pm |
  7. Annie Kate

    A woman should have freedom of choice on what to wear – those who want to continue wearing the burqa because of their religious beliefs should be able to; those who don't want to wear it for whatever reason should be able to make that decision also. Wearing the burqa is just one of the limitations that the Muslim religion dictates to women – while obtaining the freedom to wear or not wear the burqa is a good first step, we should not lose sight of the other traditions that are oppressive to the women and work on getting rid of those customs.

    June 24, 2009 at 8:12 pm |
  8. DavidPun

    I think Sarkozy is dead right. with one exception, I think if a woman chooses to wear a burqa, just like a nun wearing a habit, then that should be her choice. But it should be completely banned in any Western country that women are required to wear it against their will. Western countries represent freedom of choice and the mandatory wearing of the burqa is completely antithetical to this principle. If someone doesn't accept the basic principles behind the country in which they live, they should go somewhere else... like Iran.

    June 24, 2009 at 7:31 pm |
  9. Clark

    it is not really the burqa that is the problem.... it is the violence associated with the culture that demands women wear the burqa.

    if the burqa was simply a voluntary fashion and the radical muslims allowed Allah to wage "his" own wars on a spiritual level rather than using physical violence and forced "faked conversions" .... the burqa would probably be a non-issue.

    June 24, 2009 at 7:04 pm |
  10. John

    Wait a minute!! Wasn't Obama herding burqa bearing women
    away from his backdrop whilst on the campaign trail? Obama
    was so busy preserving his non-Arab image when running for
    president. However, when visiting Egypt, all of a suddent
    "members" of his family are Muslim. What's up with that???

    June 24, 2009 at 6:54 pm |
  11. JIM S

    I agree with Sarkozy. It is a form of humiliation for Muslim Women. Muslim women in general are being slaves in my opinion. I am not sure how many wear the burqas volutarily. I doubt that many do. I always believed that Barack Hussein Obama is a Muslim and that is why he takes the position of the Muslims governments.

    June 24, 2009 at 5:59 pm |
  12. DutchBoy

    All hail Sarkozy!

    -An American Soul

    June 24, 2009 at 5:47 pm |
  13. Joe G. (Illinois)

    When the women of Iran are in turmoil, chaos and a worldwide televised big frenzy.. And when their arms are weaving up in the air even though there is no party in sight anywhere.. Leave it up to Obama.. He knows what the Iranian women want to wear.. It’s all part of his beliefs and the speeches somebody else “or himself” wrote. How dare Sarkozy express his opinions without approval? How come Berlusconi and the others don’t refrain him and stop him from bothering Obama. Obama has vast experience with politics. He helped women with their abortion rights before becoming president.. What did Sarkozy do?

    June 24, 2009 at 5:24 pm |
  14. Roz

    Being able to look into someones eyes, being able to see someones facial expressions, is a very important part of human communication that is removed by the full head covering of a burqa. I could understand the will of a nation to ban such head covering in public, but to go any further and ban the gown itself seems to me as radical and unjust as being forced to wear a burqa against your will. I mean where do you draw the line in such legislation anyway? Will all modest long sleeve black gowns qualify, or only those worn by women of Persian decent?

    June 24, 2009 at 5:19 pm |
  15. JC- Los Angeles

    Last time I checked, France was the size of Texas; hopefully, President Obama will soon realize his sights should be set a bit higher.

    June 24, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  16. shazaaam

    Sarkozy Says woman wearing the burka is a sign of suppression and is not tolerable and they should stay home or they should be forced not to wear it. How about nude beaches all over the Europe or the demand of the equal civil rights for the gay couples; is that a sign of freedom?
    These are the extreme ends of the cultures.
    When world is becoming a melting pot we will come across this kind of cultural confrontations where we will always have a reason to defend our way of life and doubt other’s way of life. Then we would prove our magnanimity by saying we practice cultural tolerance. But my friends to live in a hate free world we don’t need to tolerate each others culture but we need to understand and respect it.

    June 24, 2009 at 4:56 pm |