Premier Pauline Marois' proposed charter of Quebec values, which forbids public officials including teachers, doctors and police from wearing most religious symbols and headgear, finds its echo across western Europe today.

In what Germans have dubbed the "burqini ruling," the country's highest administrative court ruled last week that notwithstanding their constitutional right to religious freedom, Muslim girls can be compelled to take part in mixed-sex swimming classes at school. To guard the modesty required of their faith, the court suggested that Muslim girls go to the swimming pool attired in a black full-body suit known as a "burqini." But the specific legal issue the court considered was an individual's constitutional rights versus the state's obligation to educate all children.

British media were full of reports over the weekend about a Liberal Democrat MP who called for a ban on women wearing veils in schools and public places. His call for a national debate on the issue followed by a few days a decision at a college in Birmingham to ban all students, staff and visitors from covering their faces. The college reversed the order in the face of heavy criticism from politicians and the public.

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