Proposed burqa ban in France ripples into Italy

After six months, the French parliamentary committee has released a 200-page report proposing an act banning the burqa and the niqab in public services and offices. However, the ban wouldn’t extend to all public spaces and it wouldn’t necessarily be a criminal offense.

The French government considers the burqa an offense to French national values. The strong French position expressed by President Sarkozy and the content of the parliamentary committee report, have ignited a political debate in Italy.

Mara Carfagna, the ministry for equal opportunities claims that the burqa is not welcome in our country and suggests a law banning this form of veiling in public spaces. In her opinion, indeed, the burqa is not a religious symbol but an abuse of power by men against women. The ban would be a crucial way to help young immigrant women to escape from ghettos where they are supposedly confined.

Franco Frattini, the Italian foreign minister doesn’t agree with a legal ban of the burqa, preferring to direct the argument towards a wider commitment to integration. The Lega Nord, instead, subscribes to the French position considering personal freedom to be balanced with the protection of security.

Differing opinions on the proposed ban exist from group to group. Four political initiatives link the burqa and the niqab to security: the Lega Nord, Souad Sbai (PDL), UDC and the PD (Demcratic Party), who proposes to allow religious, ethnic or cultural freedom in garment choice on the condition that faces remain uncovered. Of Muslim groups, Ahmad Giampier, president of Muslim Italian Intellectuals supports a ban, while Yunus Distefano, COREIS’ spokeman, wants to ensure Islam isn’t seen as a fundamentalist ideology. He believes the veil is a spiritual symbol but unfortunately, some misuse it. However., he feels this is an anomaly, and isn’t Islamic.