Athe-ocracy: What's behind France's Burkha Ban? Security, or statist secularism? 

France's ban on the burkha and veil went into effect last week. Given that this sort of strict public dress code for women is usually found outside the liberal democracies of the West, the Burkha Ban is extraordinary. To what should we chalk up this lurch towards statism?

Maybe it's xenophobia or racism. Maybe it actually is about security (cops and surveillance cameras need to know who you are). I think a large part of it is the French idea of secularism. One columnist puts it this way:

Secularism 'à la francaise' is therefore not about being open and even-handed towards all religions but closed to the whole lot of them.

A major feminist group in France supported the ban, as far as I could tell. It seems "tolerance" and "liberation" sometimes mean making it illegal for some women to dress as they please.

I've written about it before, but I think the culture war in the West is not mostly about the religious right imposing its morality on secular people, but more about the secular Left using government to coerce religious people to act against their conscience.

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Timothy P. Carney

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