Babylon & Beyond

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MUSLIM WORLD: Majorities in Europe support 'burka ban'

March 2, 2010 | 10:15 am


For many Muslim women, covering head-to-toe is a symbol of modesty and piety. But according to a new poll for the Financial Times, most Europeans would support a ban on burkas in public as the debate over Muslim minorities and national identity heats up.

According to the poll, 70% of French respondents favor banning the burka in public, followed by those in Spain and Italy, with 65% and 63%, respectively. About 57% of Britons and 50% of Germans support such a ban, as do 33% of Americans, according to the poll. A minority of respondents said they would support a similar ban on other religious symbols or clothing, such as crosses and yarmulkes.

The article that ran in the Financial Times used the term "burka" but did not specify if the poll was intended to gauge sentiment toward all face-covering veils.

The poll was released after a French parliamentary committee suggested banning "full veils" that cover the face in public on grounds that it is "a challenge to our Republic."

The new law would prohibit "full veils" in government buildings and on public transportation, and could be used to deny citizenship or residency based on "radical religious practice," according to the BBC.

-- Meris Lutz in Beirut

Photo: The French government is considering a partial ban on face veils like the niqab. Credit: Joel Robine / AFP/Getty Images