In battle of the burqa, Obama and Sarkozy differ

During speech Monday, Sarkozy suggested that the traditional female Islamic dress was a form of enslavement. But Obama backed freedom of religious expression in his Cairo speech.

By , Staff writer

  • close
    A burqa-clad Afghan woman walks in an old bazaar in Kabul, in this March 2009 file photo.
    View Caption

In the battle of the burqa, the two Western presidents from two international defenders of freedom, France and America, are finding no common ground.

On Monday, French President Nicolas Sarkozy forcefully condemned the burqa, the traditional female dress for some segments of Islam that covers a woman from head to toe, as a form of enslavement. And he vowed to ban it from the French republic.

Mr. Sarkozy's position, offered in a speech to Parliament, followed by less than a month American President Obama's opposite take on the subject of covering by Muslim women.

Recommended: France presidential elections: the candidates challenging Sarkozy

In his Cairo speech to the Muslim world earlier this month, Mr. Obama called on Western countries "to avoid dictating what clothes a Muslim women should wear," saying such action constituted "hostility" towards religion clothed in "the pretense of liberalism."

To seal the Franco-American fashion debate, the issue subsequently divided the two leaders – both male, it should be noted – when they met in Normandy to commemorate the 65th anniversary of D-Day on June 6.

Having suffered the lightning wrath of some French women's groups for his Cairo comments, Obama reiterated: "Our basic attitude [in America] is that we're not going to tell people what to wear."

Sarkozy's response was also based on a defense of freedom, though from a different perspective. "A young woman can wear a head scarf," he said, "provided that's a decision she made freely and had not been forced on her by her family or entourage."

The difference broadly comes down to one of "freedom to" versus "freedom from." Obama is defending a woman's right to dress as she chooses, especially when it comes to expressing her religious belief. Sarkozy, too, is motivated by a vision of a woman's right, but in his case it's a freedom from coercion by those who would impose a symbol of second-class status.

Sarkozy's position is grounded in the vision of a fiercely secular French republic that respects the freedom of religion, but which discourages expressions of religious difference in public settings like schools and other public institutions.

Obama's, on the other hand, follows the traditional American respect for different cultural communities and religions under the broad umbrella of universal freedoms.

In the US, Obama faces criticism from some Muslim women, like Karima Bennoune, an Algerian-American teaching at University of Michigan Law School, who sees Obama's words as accommodating the "law of the Brothers" – family members and community fundamentalists who would impose a symbol of subservience on sisters and other women.

Sarkozy faces periodic public protests from French Muslim women who demand the right to wear the religious symbols they choose – and who deride what they see as their French sisters' attention to fashion (and skimpy dress) as its own form of enslavement.

For some US observers, Obama's stand on the scarf and the burqa has simply been too one-sided. In his Cairo speech, Obama "talked about the right of Muslim women to wear the veil, particularly in the West," says James Phillips, a Middle East expert at the Heritage Foundation in Washington. "What he didn't talk about was their right not to wear the veil."

Share this story:

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

eZ debug

Clear cache:

Quick settings:

Timing: Jul 09 2014 13:29:27
Script start
Timing: Jul 09 2014 13:29:27
Module start 'content'
Warning: eZDebug::accumulatorStop Jul 09 2014 13:29:27
Accumulator 'Search' does not exist, run eZDebug::accumulatorStart first
Warning: eZDebug::accumulatorStop Jul 09 2014 13:29:27
Accumulator 'Search' does not exist, run eZDebug::accumulatorStart first
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 13:29:27
Undefined index: path in /var/www/www.csmonitor.com/extension/ezwebin/autoloads/ezpagedata.php on line 158
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 13:29:27
Undefined index: path in /var/www/www.csmonitor.com/extension/ezwebin/autoloads/ezpagedata.php on line 175
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 13:29:27
Undefined index: path in /var/www/www.csmonitor.com/extension/ezwebin/autoloads/ezpagedata.php on line 158
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 13:29:27
Undefined index: path in /var/www/www.csmonitor.com/extension/ezwebin/autoloads/ezpagedata.php on line 175
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 13:29:27
Undefined index: meta_class_identifier_ms in /var/www/www.csmonitor.com/extension/ezfind/classes/ezfindresultnode.php on line 111
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 13:29:27
Undefined index: meta_class_identifier_ms in /var/www/www.csmonitor.com/extension/ezfind/classes/ezfindresultnode.php on line 111
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 13:29:27
Undefined index: meta_class_identifier_ms in /var/www/www.csmonitor.com/extension/ezfind/classes/ezfindresultnode.php on line 111
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 13:29:27
Undefined index: meta_class_identifier_ms in /var/www/www.csmonitor.com/extension/ezfind/classes/ezfindresultnode.php on line 111
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 13:29:27
Undefined index: meta_remote_id_ms in /var/www/www.csmonitor.com/extension/csm_base/classes/CSMFunctionCollection.php on line 1028
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 13:29:27
Undefined index: meta_class_identifier_ms in /var/www/www.csmonitor.com/extension/ezfind/classes/ezfindresultnode.php on line 111
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 13:29:27
Undefined index: meta_remote_id_ms in /var/www/www.csmonitor.com/extension/csm_base/classes/CSMFunctionCollection.php on line 1028
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 13:29:27
Undefined index: meta_class_identifier_ms in /var/www/www.csmonitor.com/extension/ezfind/classes/ezfindresultnode.php on line 111
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 13:29:27
Undefined index: meta_remote_id_ms in /var/www/www.csmonitor.com/extension/csm_base/classes/CSMFunctionCollection.php on line 1028
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 13:29:27
Undefined index: meta_class_identifier_ms in /var/www/www.csmonitor.com/extension/ezfind/classes/ezfindresultnode.php on line 111
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 13:29:27
Undefined index: meta_remote_id_ms in /var/www/www.csmonitor.com/extension/csm_base/classes/CSMFunctionCollection.php on line 1028
Timing: Jul 09 2014 13:29:27
Module end 'content'
Timing: Jul 09 2014 13:29:27
Before parse_includes
Strict: PHP: E_STRICT Jul 09 2014 13:29:27
Non-static method MugoViewExtras::get_view_extras() should not be called statically, assuming $this from incompatible context in /var/www/www.csmonitor.com/extension/mugo_view_extras/autoloads/template_operators.php on line 37
Warning: eZTemplate:def @ extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/override/templates/extra/archive.tpl:21[1] Jul 09 2014 13:29:27
Variable 'view_extra_node' is already defined.
Timing: Jul 09 2014 13:29:27
After parse_includes
Timing: Jul 09 2014 13:29:27
End

Timing points:

CheckpointElapsedRel. ElapsedMemoryRel. Memory
Script start 0.0000 sec0.0161 sec 1,285.6406 KB1,162.1016 KB
Module start 'content' 0.0161 sec1.0118 sec 2,447.7422 KB11,184.7109 KB
Module end 'content' 1.0279 sec0.0153 sec 13,632.4531 KB395.6172 KB
Before parse_includes 1.0432 sec0.0552 sec 14,028.0703 KB287.7500 KB
After parse_includes 1.0984 sec0.0009 sec 14,315.8203 KB-183.0703 KB
End 1.0993 sec  14,132.7500 KB 
Total runtime:1.1058 sec
Peak memory usage:16,549.2344 KB

Time accumulators:

 Accumulator Elapsed Percent Count Average
ini_load
Load cache0.0073 sec0.6629%360.0002 sec
Mysql Total
Mysqli_queries0.3063 sec27.6456%1630.0019 sec
Looping result0.0090 sec0.8090%1580.0001 sec
Template Total1.0510 sec 94.9% 8 0.1314 sec
Template load0.0068 sec0.6157%80.0009 sec
Template processing1.0439 sec94.2257%80.1305 sec
Template load and register function0.0003 sec0.0269%40.0001 sec
states
state_id_array0.0055 sec0.4976%80.0007 sec
state_identifier_array0.0066 sec0.5936%110.0006 sec
override
Cache load0.0061 sec0.5544%770.0001 sec
eZ Find
MoreLikeThis0.0000 sec0.0000%00.0000 sec
Query build0.0071 sec0.6369%10.0071 sec
Engine time0.0338 sec3.0489%10.0338 sec
Search0.2995 sec27.0364%20.1498 sec
Class attribute list0.0798 sec7.2003%10.0798 sec
Sytem overhead
Fetch class attribute can translate value0.0045 sec0.4073%50.0009 sec
Fetch class attribute name0.0002 sec0.0194%110.0000 sec
XML
Image XML parsing0.0098 sec0.8827%50.0020 sec
class_abstraction
Instantiating content class attribute0.0001 sec0.0088%120.0000 sec
General
String conversion0.0000 sec0.0016%30.0000 sec
dbfile0.0064 sec0.5807%450.0001 sec
View Extra building0.0125 sec1.1296%40.0031 sec
Total script time:1.1079 sec

CSS/JS files loaded with "ezjscPacker" during request:

CacheTypePacklevelSourceFiles
01a980f93dc967c6e39d52a11ae2108b_1404899611_all.cssCSS3extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/stylesheets/normalize.css
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/stylesheets/html5b.css
design/standard/stylesheets/debug.css
extension/ezwt/design/standard/stylesheets/websitetoolbar.css
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/stylesheets/jquery-ui-1.10.3.custom.min.css
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/stylesheets/desktop.css
ede0a88fd146f1a095d27fb22227d0e5_1398846822.jsJS2extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/modernizr.js
extension/csm_base/design/standard/javascript/jquery-1.10.2.min.js
1650da1ba852ac5f9af81af07e8fa105_1404899611.jsJS2extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/jquery-ui-1.10.4.min.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/json2.js
extension/csm_base/design/standard/javascript/jquery.cookie.min.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/jquery.mobile.custom.min.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/plugins/jquery.arthole.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/plugins/jquery.sticky.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/plugins/jquery.csmstory.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/plugins/jquery.right_column.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/plugins/jquery.csmstory_editorspickdialog.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/plugins/jquery.sailthru_signup.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/plugins/jquery.jcarousel.min.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/plugins/jquery.history.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/plugins/jquery.mainNav.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/plugins/jquery.gallery.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/plugins/jquery.staffdialog.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/jQuery.rollChildren.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/pubService_extended.js
extension/csm_base/design/standard/javascript/csm/csmNew.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/jquery.quiz.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/jquery.spectrumQuiz.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/global.js

Templates used to render the page:

UsageRequested templateTemplateTemplate loadedEditOverride
1node/view/full.tplfull/article.tplextension/csm_base/design/csm_design/override/templates/full/article.tplEdit templateOverride template
14content/datatype/view/ezxmltags/paragraph.tpl<No override>extension/ezwebin/design/ezwebin/templates/content/datatype/view/ezxmltags/paragraph.tplEdit templateOverride template
2content/datatype/view/ezimage.tpl<No override>extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/templates/content/datatype/view/ezimage.tplEdit templateOverride template
2content/datatype/view/ezstring.tpl<No override>design/standard/templates/content/datatype/view/ezstring.tplEdit templateOverride template
6content/datatype/view/ezxmltags/bodyemphasis.tpl<No override>extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/templates/content/datatype/view/ezxmltags/bodyemphasis.tplEdit templateOverride template
12content/datatype/view/ezxmltags/link.tpl<No override>extension/csm_base/design/standard/templates/content/datatype/view/ezxmltags/link.tplEdit templateOverride template
1content/datatype/view/ezxmltext.tpl<No override>design/standard/templates/content/datatype/view/ezxmltext.tplEdit templateOverride template
1content/datatype/view/ezbyline.tpl<No override>extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/templates/content/datatype/view/ezbyline.tplEdit templateOverride template
1content/datatype/view/ezobjectrelationlist.tplcontent/datatype/view/story_images.tplextension/csm_base/design/csm_design/override/templates/content/datatype/view/story_images.tplEdit templateOverride template
1content/datatype/view/eztext.tpl<No override>design/standard/templates/content/datatype/view/eztext.tplEdit templateOverride template
1content/datatype/view/ezstring.tplcontent/datatype/view/image_credit.tplextension/csm_base/design/csm_design/override/templates/content/datatype/view/image_credit.tplEdit templateOverride template
1content/datatype/view/ezxmltext.tplcontent/datatype/view/story_info_box.tplextension/csm_base/design/csm_design/override/templates/content/datatype/view/story_info_box.tplEdit templateOverride template
1content/datatype/view/ezmatrix.tplcontent/datatype/view/ezmatrix_article_related_external_links.tplextension/csm_base/design/csm_design/override/templates/content/datatype/view/ezmatrix_article_related_external_links.tplEdit templateOverride template
1pagelayout.tpl<No override>extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/templates/pagelayout.tplEdit templateOverride template
1modules/mugo_view_extras/extra_cached.tpl<No override>extension/mugo_view_extras/design/standard/templates/modules/mugo_view_extras/extra_cached.tplEdit templateOverride template
1setup/debug_toolbar.tpl<No override>design/standard/templates/setup/debug_toolbar.tplEdit templateOverride template
 Number of times templates used: 47
 Number of unique templates used: 16
 Time used to render template usage: 0.0004 secs