As you may have heard, Nicolas Sarkozy has been talking about banning the Burka in France.
As with any subject connected to religion there is bound to be a great deal of controversy and sensitivity involved here, but it's also an interesting area to discuss and consider (though I'm inclined to think Sarkozy has only raised it as an attempt to distract from France's other issues by buying into fear and concern over immigration).
Still, personally, I do have some sympathies with the people who speak out against burkas. From a strictly secular standpoint they can seem somewhat oppressive, a threat to the equality of women and tied to the idea of gender subservience. The idea of women so visibly separating and covering themselves as a cultural norm just doesn't sit well with me. However, I'm totally against the idea of a ban. I hear people saying that those who wear burkas are demonstrating a lack of willingness to integrate and it should not be allowed, but for me the mark of an enlightened society is the protection of the basic liberty of the individual, and we simply cannot and should not be saying to people 'this is what you can and can not wear'. Much as we may wish to protect or preserve what we see as the values of our societies we really cannot do that by undermining people's freedom of choice lest we become hypocrites. Essentially, attempting to enforce liberty by legislating against things that might be perceived as illiberal or unenlightened but are still personal choices isn't true liberation, and forcing the choices of minorities will only serve to hurt integration and community.
Anyhoo, your thoughts?