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Burqa Bans and National Identity in France

Mitchell, Lincoln A.

The controversy over French attempt to make it illegal for women to wear burqas in public places reflects the tension between in some sense religious freedoms and an open society, but it may be better understood as an issue that lies at the intersection of national identities, universal rights and power. The issue implied by Sarkozy's comments as well as arguments raised by other supporters of the ban is essentially that of how sovereign states and universal rights can coexist smoothly. While banning the burqas clearly strikes many as an abridgement of those rights, asserting that France cannot do this is equally clearly an limitation on French sovereignty.

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Academic Units
Harriman Institute
Published Here
October 20, 2011