France's leader Sarkozy made a public statement about not allowing the practice of wearing burqas in France.
Burquas are the full "robe and veil" like covering that women wear, usually in the Middle East with either a mesh screen for eyes or even slits for eyes.
Sarkozy spoke of the ban as a way to protect the "women who are forced to wear them".
I think the real issue is even deeper. When speaking of true rights and choice, my initial reaction is that if a woman is practicing her religion, than it is her choice, "her right" to wear the article of clothing that she believes is deemed appropriate for such practice. Nuns wear habits etc. In other groups women will only wear skirts or dress with homemade clothing - no buttons. And while these practices are foreign to me, I can respect their beliefs.
But, I must confess that my beliefs only go so far.
Firstly, who is to say that it is a woman in the burqa? The whole idea is that the person wearing the burqa has no face, no identifying characteristics, no identity.
This is part that I have difficulty accepting.
Do I think that Sarkozy has a right to ban burqas in France? Well, yes, for no other reason than public safety - not to deny someone religious practice. Think of the motorcycle groups that drive by with some members wearing full masks. I have only seen this once and it was disheartening. Clearly, this person did not want to be seen or recognized. Chances are he was "wanted by the law" or why would he go to such lengths to hide himself?
But, the practice of women wearing burqas are an even bigger issue. When it is acceptable to deny one half of our race the ability to have an identity, to breathe fresh air and to be dress in a way that doesn't demand you become a mannequin?
When I wear my mesh covered hat for working in the garden during black fly season, I am uncomfortable. I overheat, have a hard time seeing properly and am contained.
I hate that, almost to the point where I would rather be bothered by the flies.
To see people in modern day who wear this attire brings tears to my eyes.
Is it their choice and do they have a right to make this choice?
I might believe that they make this choice. But after consideration, they have been raised in a religion where you have no choices, they are doing what is expected, no demanded of them. This isn't a choice.
Is this a matter of public safety? Absolutely. Anyone could be underneath the robes carrying anything from a weapon, to a bomb etc.
But, aside from the ability to conceal weapons, it is frightening just knowing that a group of people in our world think that women should be treated with no identity, no face, no thoughts, nothing, just living mannequins.
This is not the world I want to live in.