The French are enjoying a debate about their cultural identity. Obviously the word "enjoying" is a euphemism, since the focus of the debate, whether or not to ban the burqa — full female coverage with an eye screen — in public, has riven the population of France, and by no means along the obvious fault line of Muslim vs. non-Muslim.
Algerian-born Fadela Amara, France's cities minister, reinforced her view in an interview with the Financial Times: "The vast majority of Muslims are against the burqa. It is obvious why. Those who have struggled for women's rights back home in their own countries — I'm thinking particularly of Algeria — we know what it represents and what the obscurantist political project is that lies behind it, to confiscate the most fundamental liberties."
President Nicolas Sarkozy had called for a ban on the public wearing of the burqa altogether. But as of this writing, apparently a compromise has been struck and the burqa will be banned in public buildings only.
A partial ban is better than nothing, though, and may hopefully serve to inject some steel into the spine of other European nations who feel threatened by the rise of anti-Western radicalization amongst their own growing Muslim populations.