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France's ban on Islamic veils is misguided

Posted: April 16, 2011 - 9:26pm

The following editorial first appeared in the Kansas City Star:

Decades of low native birth rates in France have transformed the face of the nation, and many fear what that means for the future.

But the temptation to ban Islamic veils there must be fought. The face of France has already been altered. Lashing out at the very few women who wear veils merely deepens a divide between native and immigrant populations.

The ban, after all, isn’t really about veils. Only about 2,000 French women are thought to wear them. And, despite popular perception, there is little evidence that those women do so under duress. Instead, the niqab is a religious statement.

What the ban really reflects is anger at Muslims, and, in a broader sense, immigrants.

The French ban that went into effect this week, in that sense, is similar to Kansas’ new voter identification program and a bill in Missouri to ban Sharia law. All three are overzealous attempts to solve what were never actually problems. None has any practical value. All, clearly, are primarily statements.

But they are the wrong statements to make as we head into a globalized future.

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