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Human Rights Watch blasts Sarkozy's comments on the Burqa/Niqab

Human Rights Watch blasts Sarkozy's comments on the Burqa/Niqab

Categories: Latest News

Friday July 03 2009

Human Rights Watch comments on President Sarkozy’s remarks on the burqa saying that ‘a legal ban in Europe on the wearing of the burqa in public life would be just as much a violation of the rights of those women who wish to wear it as is the forcing of the veil on those women who do not wish to wear it in, for example, Iran or Saudi Arabia.’

Muslim women should have the right to move around dressed as they choose, to make decisions about their lives and religion, whether we understand or support those choices or not.

‘The argument that “the burqa oppresses all women” and therefore should be banned by the state implies that it is up to the state to regulate and limit a woman’s choices about how she expresses her religious belief through her outward appearance. This is an outrageous interference that so far from protecting Muslim women, which is presumably the intention, actually further undermines their ability and their right to choose how to lead their lives and how to present themselves in public.

‘There is no doubt that many Muslim women are forced to wear the burqa or other forms of veil and are unable to make decisions about the most fundamental aspects of their lives. But there is equally little doubt that many other Muslim women have made a free and informed decision to wear such coverings, and value the space to practice their religion in public.

‘Banning the burqa fundamentally undermines their rights and perhaps most importantly does not provide any meaningful assistance to those women who are coerced and forced to cover their bodies and faces. Politicians like Sarkozy who claim to stand up for women’s rights must look beyond what women wear. Banning the burqa will not make go it away; it will only force the women who wear it, whether by choice or under coercion, to drop out of sight.’

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