Thursday, June 3, 2010

France's effort to ban full-face veils by Pierre Vimont, Ambassador of France to the US

On May 24, 2010 the Los Angeles Times published an editorial entitled "France's veil threat". The Ambassador of France to the United States, Mr. Pierre Vimont issued shortly after a response to this article, published on May 31, 2010. I would like to share it with you:

" Your editorial notes accurately that only full-face veils would be banned under a law being considered by France's Parliament, in contrast with headscarves or Islamic veils, which are admitted everywhere in France, apart from public schools and for government officials.

Burkas are worn in France by very few women but are promoted by religious extremists as a challenge to our values of openness and equality. It is a pre-Islamic tradition used as a rallying symbol for radicalism. That is one of the reasons why the comparison with bans on minarets is unfair.

One can argue that religious freedom implies the ability to cover completely one's body in public, but in many countries, including Muslim countries, this is open for debate.

France just held an earnest debate that raised specific concerns that you recall in part: human dignity and women's rights, integration, security.

Saying that such a law is incompatible with the "freedom of thought, conscience and religion" is simply wrong. France guarantees these rights, as provided by the 1789 Declaration of Human Rights. It tries to strike a balance in defending these values in the face of growing pressure from extremists. This is an issue for any democracy. "

Pierre Vimont, Ambassador of France to the United States

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