It would be great to live in a world where women could wear exactly what they want to wear, without the slightest pressure. But this is not the world we live in. —Luis Granados, “Saving Aqsa Parvez”, The Humanist, September-October 2010, p. 21

Put aside, for a moment, the idea of religion. Forget, for just a second, that the word ‘religion’ means anything. And now ask, is it OK for a man to force a woman to spend her whole life in a black cloth bag?

How could that ever be OK?

The burqa question is not about a woman’s right to wear the burqa, but about her right not to wear it. No one in their right mind would don such a “garment” more than once. You wear the burqa because if you don’t, your husband will beat you. It’s as simple as that. The purpose of legislation “banning the burqa” is to protect women from this kind of abuse.

The French legislators who seek to repudiate the wearing of the veil or the burqa … are often described as seeking to impose a “ban.” To the contrary, they are attempting to lift a ban: a ban on the right of women to choose their own dress, a ban on the right of women to disagree with male and clerical authority, and a ban on the right of all citizens to look one another in the face. The proposed law is in the best traditions of the French republic, which declares all citizens equal before the law and—no less important—equal in the face of one another. —Christopher Hitchens