Is it not a religious sign because a sign of the subjugation? If that is what Nicolas Sarkozy means then he is implicitly asserting that whatever subjugates women is not religion. But it is not the role of government to say what constitutes religion.
Nevertheless, both government and religious may try to occupy the same niche. When it does, let government boldly assert that its policies trump religious practices and then let's have a debate about the scope of the rights of religious freedom. Don't say it's not religion. It is. And religion ought to have to take responsibility for the repression it imposes. Don't let it off the hook!
Mr. Sarkozy noted that “in the republic, the Muslim religion must be respected like other religions.” But he declared that “the burqa is not welcome in France.”I can't tell what he's proposing. Is there to be a ban on burqas or is he just encouraging people to feel/express hostility to the women who adopt this form of dress? Why does denying women this choice enhance their dignity? Presumably, some/most/all of the women who wear a burqa do so because they are forced or pressured into it, and that's the indignity that the government wants to remedy. It may be that it's too hard to detect and regulate the coercion and therefore the thing that is so often coerced should be banned, even at the cost of depriving some women of their free choice.
“We cannot accept in our country women imprisoned behind bars, cut off from social life, deprived of identity,” he said. “That is not our idea of maintaining the dignity of women.”
It's paternalism attacking paternalism.