Think the French Burqa Ban is a Women’s Rights Measure? “Bull,” Says O’Reilly


In 2009, French president Nicolas Sarkozy addressed the French parliament on the incompatibility of the burqa and women’s rights:

In our country, we cannot accept that women be prisoners behind a screen, cut off from all social life, deprived of all identity … The burqa is not a religious sign, it’s a sign of subservience, a sign of debasement — I want to say it solemnly, it will not be welcome on the territory of the French Republic.

And just a few months ago, he described the full veil as “contrary to the dignity of women.”

But that’s not what he really thinks, not according to Bill O’Reilly and left-leaning commentator Imogen Lloyd Webber.  They say Sarkozy is full of you-know-what:

O’REILLY: France is a — it’s a catholic country but a very secular government. But you know, a veil is a cultural thing. Not all Muslim women wear veils. You have to choose to wear one. So you can make an argument that look, this isn’t a religious expression. This is cultural. I want to be modest. And I don’t want to show my face because I’m a Muslim woman. And you Sarkozy have no right to tell me what I can wear and what I can’t wear. But there’s a reason why Sarkozy is doing this. Do you know what the reason is?

WEBBER: Well, he is claiming that it is helping women’s rights there.

O’REILLY: No, that’s bull.

WEBBER: Which I think — I agree with you.

Oh, well I guess it’s settled then. No need for pesky justifications of their attack on Sarkozy’s honesty.  Many thanks to Mr. O’Reilly and Ms. Webber for their meaningful contributions to the public debate.

Webber, perhaps best known for occupying the “leg chair” on “Red Eye,” has never been forced to suffer behind a fabric prison, walled off from sunlight, fresh air, and unrestricted interaction with others.  She proclaimed Sarkozy’s proposed ban “counterproductive” and an “act of discrimination” that will only serve to radicalize the Muslim population in France.  “We need to be building bridges,” she said.

Funny, I didn’t realize bridges were built from shallow analysis and empty platitudes.

Many Westerners bristle at the mere mention of a burqa ban.  It’s seen as an assault on women’s freedom of expression.  But we’re not talking about Imogen Lloyd Webber’s right to bare her gams in the “Red Eye” leg chair. We’re debating a measure designed to do away with a dehumanizing instrument of subjugation that broadcasts a Muslim woman’s second-class status to the world.

And yet, Webber and O’Reilly failed to address the many ways in which the burqa and niqab marginalize, oppress, and debase women.  Who’s really being dishonest here?