When we were in Egypt, I bought a niqab and black chador. I thought the niqab was about the coolest thing ever and I wore it a couple of times during sandstorms to keep sand out of my face. Inevitably, Erik would say, "Oh my God, it's a ninja!" or start humming the Imperial March signifying that Darth Vader was emerging to walk to Falfela across the street. That was his very polite way of saying that he didn't like it. Headscarf? No problem, he liked me better without hair. Abaya? Just enough curves to add to the mystery. One additional piece of fabric across my face and I became an epic villain. Thus, I come to the French...
See, the French don't like villains like ninjas* or Darth Vader because they know at any given moment that if one of these guys shows up in France that the whole country is going to fall to the Empire or a ninja crime syndicate because they will surrender. They always surrender. The US will show up and Chewbacca will become president of France because Americans love Chewbacca! Worse yet, if ninjas show up instead, Chuck Norris may become president and everyone knows that the chief export of Chuck Norris is pain! Thus, niqabs and burqas make the French nervous.
The fact that France is willing to limit freedom of its citizens in the name of security and preservation is a contradiction in terms. By banning clothing such as burqas, France has already began to lose the freedom that it so desperately wants to preserve. In a way, they're just doing the opposite of what the Taliban have done in Afghanistan, except forcing women to wear less clothing. If the French want assimilation of Muslim immigrant populations, this ban virtually guarantees that it will never happen.
So, should women be forced to take off their niqabs or burqas? Is this simply the cost of living in a non-Muslim country, or is it fair to expect freedom of religion in a country that considers itself free?
* I've had way too much caffeine today. I can't believe I incorporated Chuck Norris, ninjas, Darth Vader, and Chewbacca into a post about France banning niqab.