The question is not if, but when and how France will banish full facial veiling from the streets of the République. Contrary to what has been reported in international media, the conclusions of the Parliamentary Commission are not the "government's" decision. President Nicolas Sarkozy is asking Parliament for a "solemn declaration" that veiled women do not belong in France, followed by an outright legal ban.
Paris is now concerned with crafting a law that will stand up to eventual challenges from the Conseil Constitutionnel and the European Court of Human Rights.
Polls show that a majority of French people support the maximalist ban. French Muslim intellectuals, activists, and community leaders who represent the promise of an enlightened European Islam are asking for an unambiguous ban on the niqab. Poet and scholar Abdelwahab Meddeb calls the niqab the "ideological sign of radical Islam." Psychoanalyst Fethi Benslama exposes the "masochism" of the self-imposed veil, "unacceptable even in the name of individual freedom." Fadela Amara, undersecretary for Urban Affairs and former president of Ni Putes Ni Soumises [Neither Whores Nor Doormats] calls the niqab "the visible, physical expression of fundamentalists." This week NPNS activists dressed in burqas gathered in front of the National Assembly and major party headquarters, calling on lawmakers to protect them from this violation of women's rights.