The French Parliament has approved a ban on face veilsin public, in what proponents say is an effort to keep the state secular and detractors say is a grievous affront to religious freedom. The measure still needs to pass the French Senate to become law, but with little open opposition in France, at least from politicians, it is likely to be ratified. The law would fine women for wearing a niqab or a burqa, which both conceal parts of the face, and could heavily fine or jail men who force female relatives to wear such coverings. Other European countries are considering similar bans.

According to the AP, the language of the bill tries to paint it in broad, non-religious strokes, claiming that it applies to everyone, while making exceptions for almost every other instance one can imagine for a woman to cover her face in public, like wearing a motorcycle helmet or costume. No one has to say that it's aimed at Muslims.

The debate over whether or not wearing a burqa is oppressive to woman will never end, and I tend to agree with the camp that places forced covering in a negative light. It always goes back to the tiresome reasoning propagated by chauvinistic men that women are responsible for keeping their hot bodies under wraps because men can't control themselves, and if you're sexually assaulted in the market, it's probably because your cheekbone was exposed and you have only yourself to blame. It's the "short skirt = asking for rape" argument that is so ugly and logically flawed I won't even bother going into it.

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