The French Senate this week passed a bill banning the burqa-style Islamic veil on public streets and other places. The measure -- supported by President Nicolas Sarkozy's conservative party -- was passed by France's lower house of parliament in July.
This new law in France is considered a symbolic defense of French values. Its passage can also be viewed as a safety measure, since some of these veils cover a woman's entire face -- except for her eyes -- thus increasing the chances of a vehicular accident for women who drive while wearing them.
The new law is designed to ensure gender equality, women's dignity, and security, as well as upholding France's secular values.
Many Muslims feel that the law will stigmatize the French Muslim population. With an estimated 5 million Muslims, France has the largest Muslim population in western Europe.
The fact is that 98 percent of France's population is Christian. As immigrants in France, Muslims need to realize that they must live by the values and laws of French society.
Muslim women who want to wear their veils are free to wear them by returning to predominantly Islamic nations, but as long as they reside in France, they must live according to French values, customs, and laws.