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French Equality Veils Liberty

April 30, 2010

Adam Fowler for Adam Fowler’s Opinion Blog:

The recent refocus on the immigration issue here in the United States displays how segments in our society view newcomers and their place in our society. France, likewise, has been dealing with issues of immigration. Whereas the influx of Mexican immigrants has concerned Americans, the French have been dealing with the influx of various Muslim groups for quite a while now. Lately, the French have been concerned with the public religious practices of the Muslim subculture, which seem to threaten the country’s persistent emphasis on secularism and egalitarianism.

At issue is competing values of liberty and equality. The Muslims wearing the religious symbols banned in public schools in the country several years ago and those wearing the veils that may be soon be banned if French President Sarkozy has his way see such religious garb as an expression of their individual religious liberty. Those French opposed to that expression view the garb as symbolic of a Muslim counter-culture hostile to equality for women. [More]

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