President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Monday that burqas had no place in France as they were a sign of the subjugation of women.
During a solemn speech to parliament on a range of issues, Sarkozy backed an initiative launched by legislators last week who expressed concern over an increase in the use of burqas in France. "The issue of the burqa is not a religious issue, it is a question of freedom and of women's dignity," Sarkozy said.
"The burqa is not a religious sign, it is a sign of the subjugation, of the submission of women. I want to say solemnly that it will not be welcome on our territory," he said to strongapplause.
Referring to a cross-party initiative by close to 60 legislators last week, who proposed a parliamentary commission to look into the spread of the burqa and find ways to combat the trend, Sarkozy said it was the right way to proceed. "A debate has to take place and all views must be expressed. I tell you, we must not be ashamed of our values, we must not be afraid of defending them," he said.
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