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Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff


Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff is a Senior Director at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, a transatlantic public policy and grant-making foundation. He overseas the fund's policy programs. He was previously the Washington bureau chief of the German newsweekly, Die Zeit. Close.

Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff


Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff is a Senior Director at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, a transatlantic public policy and grant-making foundation. more »

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Democracy and a Piece of Clothing

When it comes to citizenship, what you believe is more important than what you wear.

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All Comments (97)


The old non-response of those without facts: claim you're above the fray and need not respond to specific statements of fact. Duly noted.

I provide facts and quotes about the case and about Sharia law, you avoid both and claim you know better. Got it.

I mention the UNHRC and you make a generic statement about the UN, w/o addressing the abuses in the UNHRC that even the UNSG has commented on. Very enlightening.

"Geneva Conventions" pops up out of nowhere. It wasn't part of the previous discussion, Citizen provides not context of a link from the discussion to it, just throws it in to obfuscate his lack of content. Understandable, given the lack of support for his position.

"the vast majority of world opinion". What opinion might that be, on what subject and by whom? More claims w/o fact.

However, let us discuss "word opinion". Go to Freedom House's report on nations. Tell me what percentage of nations and world populations are in the "Free" categories. Or is the factless pundit claiming that equivalence means that the opinions of tyrants, dictators and juntas is equal in morals and ethics to those in free nations? Or, perhaps, as I do, that voices of free nations should have more of an impact upon the policies of free nations.

From the lack of facts and strong support of Sharia, I'd predict he thinks just the opposite.

Citizen of the post-American world:


"As for the ECHR, it's as ridiculous as the UN Human Rights Council, a group run by people with an agenda that has nothing to do with rights..."

Yes, sure, and the UN has nothing to do with the community of nations; it should therefore, be "disbanded".

David, I am all too familiar with those statements, having heard them ad nauseam, coming invariably from the same quarters. As an individual, who do you think you are, in this world, to look down on the community of nations with such utter contempt? Nobody.

Let me be as clear as I can be. Such statements do not impress me anymore than those who make them. I myself have no respect for people who, on the international scene, feel so superior to the rest of us that they readily advocate just doing as one pleases, disregarding repeatedly international institutions such as the UN, the International Court of Justice, as well as international law, the Geneva Conventions, and all the rest of it, including the views expressed by the vast majority of world opinion.

You may of course think what you want. I simply see no point in discussing such matters with you any further. I promise not to recidivate.


Citizen of the post logical world (July 27, 2008 12:18 PM)

Sorry, but punctuation isn't sufficient.

"France’s “Conseil d’État” (FCE) is an administrative jurisdiction, the highest in the land. It does not rule on Islam and Sharia law." Wrong. It did just that. It said that strict Islamic fundamentalism is in direct contradiction to the French system and ruled out citizenship. Avoiding that's what they said doesn't make it disappear.

"arbitrary assumptions" are still your words and still not backed up by any evidence. They quoted her own statements of belief in rejecting her citizenship. If you think that's arbitrary, I refer you to

"nowhere do the “Conclusions” say how the questions were phrased". No, "nowhere in the article". You're making the arbitrary assumption that anything said against Islam must be invented. Sad.

"is the simple fact, for instance, that her children attend not to a Catholic school, not to a Jewish school, not to a Muslim school, but “l’école communale”" a statement w/o support, as are many. There's no mention of that in the article. Two responses. First, provide us a link. Second, what sex are the kids? It's obvious the husband is availing himself of French rights while denying his wife the same. I want to know if he's biased in his treatment of his children in the same manner.

"far more drive fighting for her rights". Fighting against her democratic rights. Fighting for her limitations under Sharia.

"FCE has shown that it was not only clearly prejudiced against..." That's not a de facto problem. I'm prejudiced against fascists. US and other citizenship requirements include promising not to advocate the overthrow of their governments. There are many reasons to have valid prejudices against people and for nations to decide that certain people shouldn't be granted citizenship.

"in fact anything that would make it easy for anyone to identify them, publicly, as Muslim women." If you knew anything real about Islam, you'd know there's nothing in the hadith about women needing to wear them. They are clear signs of fundamentalist Islam that speak to certain goal of that religion.

"It is to forget that history has repeatedly shown how, on religious matters, intimidation and persecution were very short-sighted strategies to adopt." More important, you shouldn't forget that clothing has been used to separate and identify those of other religions who weren't equal. Those who wear the burka tend to believe very strict things about Islam, infidels and the "appropriate" relations between them.

As for the ECHR, it's as ridiculous as the UN Human Rights Council, a group run by people with an agenda that has nothing to do with rights, but with a very warped view of political correctness. I strongly suggest a reading of "Eurabia" by Bat Yeor.

As it is, you've proven another of my points, made on other sources. The fewer facts a person has on the internet, the more he/she tends to right in order to obscure that lack. I pointed towards two specific quotes, about assimilation and equality. In all that text, you've assiduously avoided addressing those.


Note the author's comment:"Given this kaleidoscope of possible meanings it is a stretch to assume that a religious accessory points to nothing else but an anti-democratic mindset. Faiza M. is certainly within her rights to contend that her clothing is part of her religious freedom."

Since the 'believers' if Islam believe in a state imposed religion, any physical manifestation of the 'believers' would qualify as an intent to suppress the beliefs of others, a clear violation of constitutional government. Article 18, section 3, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: "Freedom to manifest one's religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health, or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others."
The intent of constitutional covenants, such as described in the American 1st Amendment, is to allow each individual to develop his own spiritual path because that path is not related to a mere physical existence on Earth. To express ones beliefs as an extention of the state denies all others a right to a path for themselves.
No person who has a genuine spiritually awareness would attempt to impose his beliefs on others, clothing being the most primitive form of imposition, individual or state.

Juan P.:

This case most certainly gives the French conservatives a gift. They can now claim that an immigrant wanting to become a citizen has to assimilate in the ways that are acceptable to them: clothes that somehow represent "you're one of us," understanding of political rights but also submission to them, secularity to the far right (can't believe there's such a thing...but apparently so), and a blind committment to the idea that all MUST be equal...or else. I found this article very interesting and insightful.

Ibrahim Mahfouz:

Gill says:
"But for Salafis, suicide bombing is meant to be used on civilians, who are fair game. Sunnis will never think this way, it's hard-coded into the religion not to."

Pew Research Center:
“About 1 in 4 young adult American Muslims says suicide bombings against civilian targets "to defend Islam" can be justified , according to a new Pew Research Center poll--a finding …”

Does this mean that 25% of Muslims in this country are Salafis?


And Euros are always saying that they are so much more tolerant than Americans. They seem to have forgotten the past and ignore much of their present.

From an article on the WSJ, May 23, 2007.

"The Pew Research Center has a new poll it touts as "the first-ever, nationwide, random sample survey of Muslim Americans," and it has drawn drastically different interpretations. The Pew press release says the survey finds Muslims "to be largely assimilated, happy with their lives, and moderate with respect to many of the issues that have divided Muslims and Westerners around the world." Many press reports echo this interpretation, including this one from USA Today, headlined "Poll: American Muslims Reject Extremes":

The USA's estimated 2.4 million Muslims hold more moderate political views than Muslims elsewhere in the world and are mostly middle class and willing to adopt the American way of life, according to one of the most comprehensive surveys of this segment of the nation's population.

The Pew Research Center study released Tuesday found that "Muslim Americans are very much like the rest of the country," says Luis Lugo, director of the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. "They do not see a conflict between being a devout Muslim and living in a modern society."

But others see a darker side. The San Francisco Chronicle's report is titled " 'Troubling' Views on Suicide Bombings":

About 1 in 4 young adult American Muslims says suicide bombings against civilian targets "to defend Islam" can be justified rarely, sometimes or often, according to a new Pew Research Center poll--a finding that disturbed American Muslim leaders and thinkers across the country.

"It's something that the Muslim community should be aware of--it's a phenomenon we should be concerned about," said Farid"

A "post-American world" may not be as great as many people and Zakaria think. Be carful what you wish for!

Citizen of the post-American world:

@ David who writes: “… you forgot one thing: Anything that refutes my point.”

David, should you prefer and insist, I can very well dot all my i’s and cross all my t’s.

Referring to your comment before last, let’s now begin then:

1. France’s “Conseil d’État” (FCE) is an administrative jurisdiction, the highest in the land. It does not rule on Islam and Sharia law. Should it ever be convincingly demonstrated to the European Court of Human Rights, that FCE was, as you suggest, evidently “hostile towards Islam and Sharia law”, the Court might very well, I believe, overrule the FCE for partiality and discrimination on religious grounds, against Mme M.

Innumerable French, American, etc. citizens adhere to belief systems that, as you put it, “state certain things about certain people that are direct and violent differences with an open and democratic society”. As far as I can tell, one may still be a French (or an American) citizen and belong to the Christian right (Christian fundamentalism), or to one of the many Jewish Orthodox sects (Jewish fundamentalism), or to Salafism (Muslim fundamentalism), not to mention to our very own White Supremacists lot or to our endearing KKK. One may also be a French citizen, yet refer certain matters to rabbinic tribunals, or to Muslim tribunals, or to ecclesiastical tribunals all the way up to the Vatican. That so many people such as yourself resent Islam and Sharia is totally irrelevant to this case. As an administrative jurisdiction, FCE does not exist so as to make one feel justified thinking what one thinks, let alone to vindicate anybody’s grudges.

2. FCE is not called upon to make “arbitrary assumptions” either, as to what Mme M. may (or might very well) believe in or think, based on whatever Sharia says (or what FCE believes it says). Once Mme M. maintains the French Government had no valid ground to refuse that she be granted French citizenship, FCE’s duty is to rule on Mme M.’s challenge to the French Government. Its ruling must be based on facts, and take fully into account, very meticulously, what that lady says (and demonstrates every day) she truly believes in and thinks. Needless to say, FCE’s ruling must be respectful of the law of the land, of human rights ( including freedom of religion) and of EU legality.

3. In the case of Mme M., FCE has chosen to believe what she had apparently admitted spontaneously to social services or police, i.e. to have “aucune idée SUR la laïcité et SUR le droit de vote”. Not surprisingly, nowhere do the “Conclusions” say how the questions were phrased and how Mme M. did answer them, verbatim. Worse still, FCE rejects (without making them public) Mme M.’s “écritures”, i.e. the part of her Memoir to FCE where she apparently stated her position on those matters. FCE simply states (no justification given) that “undoubtedly (what the lady wrote) does not reflect her personal convictions”!

Prima facie, that Mme M. (who is said to have excellent command of French), does not know what those words mean or, as you suggest, that “she knows nothing about secularism or democracy and isn't interested in those things” makes no sense. FCE does not seem to appreciate (yet it speaks volumes on how she views both “laïcité” and “égalité”), is the simple fact, for instance, that her children attend not to a Catholic school, not to a Jewish school, not to a Muslim school, but “l’école communale” … “laïque et républicaine”, I might add. I submit that as a person FCE has chosen to consider a passive, submissive woman who lives “dans la soumission totale aux hommes de sa famille”, Mme M. has already stirred the French socio-political pot energetically enough, lately (almost to boiling point, if you ask me), to disprove all FCE’s contentions. She obviously has far more drive fighting for her rights than many so-called “liberated” European or American women I know or have heard of. That might very well be why, again not surprisingly, after admitting it has no mandate to state it, FCE dared insinuate, in its “Conclusions”, that Mme M. may have been guilty of “provocation… lors des entretiens en préfecture”. Once again, of course, no details are given.

Indeed, a “totally submissive” creature she obviously is, that lady M!

In that context, for all those reasons (and many others), I believe it was abusive for FCE to conclude that « l’ensemble du comportement dans la vie quotidienne et les déclarations de Mme M. » justify that her request be denied. The French Government had the onus to prove its case against Mme M., something there are excellent reasons to believe it has failed to do. The more I look into this case (just study its “Conclusions” more closely), the more it becomes clear to me that FCE has shown that it was not only clearly prejudiced against Mme M., but hostile towards her; NOT, as you claim, “towards Islam and Sharia” but, to repeat, towards Mme M. herself. I am confident that should this case be brought before it for a ruling, the European Commission of Human Rights would likely overrule FCE’s decision outright. It may then come as an embarrassment to FCE that it be blamed severely, by the Court, for its attitude towards Mme M.

As I see it, Mme M.’s is only a test case to intimidate French (and other European?) women, so they do not wear a burqa, a niqab, a veil, etc., in fact anything that would make it easy for anyone to identify them, publicly, as Muslim women. It is to forget that history has repeatedly shown how, on religious matters, intimidation and persecution were very short-sighted strategies to adopt: one soon notices a dramatic increase in the number of disciples, many of whom can be seen seeking to be publicly identified as fearless members of their particular faith.

Not surprisingly still, many of those who have already sided against Mme M. and rejoiced publicly at FCE’s decision, have already admitted fearing it will be overruled by the European Court of Human Rights. Why will it be? Some of them would have us believe it is simply because in the past, the Court has “evidently” shown it favoured social “chaos”; nothing less than social “chaos”! In this atomic age, while lies and deception lead to wars that destroy whole countries and million of people’s lives, I must admit it had escaped me that a piece of garment could be so powerful.

Nonetheless, those people’s anticipatory reaction is an encouraging sign: however much they welcome FCE’s ruling, they feel very strongly that in this case, FCE does not have a leg to stand on. In any case, there are already enough people around who are obsessed with, and hostile towards Islam and Muslims. Now is the time for the European Court of Human Rights to hear and listen to that so-called “totally submissive”, all too “provoking” lady. One would hope the Court will stand firm against intimidation and blackmail. Lady M. fully deserves that the European Justice System treats her not as a second-class, stigmatized, Muslim, female resident of France, but as human being, an equal, a decent, responsible, niqab wearing, would-be citizen of France, worthy of respect.


Citizen of the post logical world (July 24, 2008 9:45 AM)

In all that rambling, you forgot one thing: Anything that refutes my point. You mutter about the Conseil d’Etat disagreeing with me, but nothing in the article does that.

Show me where they said the issue was the burka. You can't, because it wasn't. Quotes in the article speak to:
- “lack of assimilation”
- “especially the principle of the equality of sexes”

Those things do not happen because she put on a burka, and something in the weave of the fabric makes her think that way. Those beliefs come from the belief in Islam and Sharia. That you refuse to accept that is a reflection upon you.

Basat Tayfun:

If anyone wondered why the Republic Of Turkey has banned religious wear in government places (though it was never tightly enforced, as the presence of turban-wearing female students on campuses and in government offices), they should read the latter paragraphs in the posting over and over until they get it....

How does a being born from her mother with no burqa, headdress, etc. end up wearing one? 99% of the time, it is by example, i.e. inculcation or even forceable brainwashing.

It is not difficult to find examples of 4-5 year old girls being encouraged or scared into wearing religious attire, even when the basis of it is a book (i.e. Qu'ran) that explicitly talks about adult women (i.e. post puberty, not infants or "subyan").

This is preemption of God's will and a subversion of the freewill of God's followers/children. This should be apparent to anyone who can exercise a little bit of common sense and apply a little of bit of life experience. After all, what and who we are is formed early in life, during the first 4-5 years, before even God Himself imposes any responsibilities (from an Islamic perspective).

What an obvious abuse of God's word.

M. MALIK, Toronto, Canada:

Fair enough, Mr. Kleine-Brockhoff. L'affaire est entendue.

But, you also argue, more pertinently, that " The state may reject an immigrant’s petition to become a citizen if and when an applicant rejects the basic constitutional principles".

You will not be so dishonest as to disagre with my proposition that Mr George Bush has, repeatedly, " ... rejected the basic constitutional principles ...." of being completely truthful in all matters of the highest national interest, like going to war and thereby putting at unnecessary risk the lives of our finest youths, or like curtailing civil liberties on the basis of an insane fear-mongering agenda, etc.

In your opinion, does that mean that, in lieu of the unlikely proposition that Mr. Bush should be stripped of his American citizenship, he should be dragged to the International Criminal Court to face charges of war crimes?

Citizen of the post-American world:

Thank you for clarifying the issue, David.

I wish you would volunteer to argue the case on the side of the "Conseil d'État" at the European Court of Human Rights, and that the Court would accept to hear your arguments. One would learn much from examining how far your arguments would have taken you. Should that possibility arise, and should you need sponsors, I might even consider contributing to your fund.

Now would the "Conseil d'État" welcome your arguments and accept to have you on its side? It seems to me that is debatable... Should the "Conseil" happen not to, I am sure you would want to hear WHAT, in your arguments, they considered would not be helpful, but only weaken their case.

May I conclude with a suggestion? Given those "many articles" you mention disagree on "facts", contradict one another in many respects, and argue the case in every direction imaginable -- Mr. Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff's remaining probably the best by far --, as a winning strategy, I would consider leaving them aside, and stick to the "Conseil d'État"'s "Conclusions"... verbatim.


Citizen of the post logical world (July 23, 2008 9:39 AM)

"I perceive unmitigated hostility toward that Muslim lady", no, rather, hostility towards Islam and Sharia law that state certain things about certain people that are direct and violent differences with an open and democratic society.

"arbitrary assumptions", as if Sharia doesn't exist, doesn't say women must be subservient, that a woman's word in court is worth half that of a man's, or that non-muslims can't speak against Muslims in a court of law?

"Few specifics if any are given", such as those in many articles, pointing out that she knows nothing about secularism or democracy and isn't interested in those things?

This isn't about the burka. It's about a belief system that is anti-ethical with democracy, a belief of which the burka is only an indication.

Citizen of the post-American world:

Thank you for the link, Adriana.

Three points:

1. In many no so subtle expressions and descriptions one finds in those "Conclusions", I perceive unmitigated hostility toward that Muslim lady. I must admit I am very surprised that a French Government "Commissaire", "auprès du Conseil d'État" (!), dare conclude in those very terms, on such a sensitive case.

2. Those "Conclusions" include arbitrary assumptions, whereby one would have us believe one knows better than she, who that Muslim lady really is, what she feels, thinks and believes, as well as what she means when she acts in a particular manner, regardless even of what she herself has said or might say. Some of those assumptions even intrude upon that lady's privacy, something I find objectionable.

3. Few specifics if any are given, in those "Conclusions", on WHAT, PRECISELY, leads one to conclude that the Muslim lady does not adhere to the values of the French Republic in general, and more particularly on matters of equality between the sexes. I am therefore led to conclude that the "Conseil d'État"'s case most probably rests on very shaky grounds indeed.

In my opinion, that Muslim lady should assume the French Government sees hers as a test case, and therefore bring it, with the "Conclusions", to the attention of the European Court of Human Rights, asking for a ruling. Were she to do so, my bet is the European Court would rule against France's "Conseil d'État".


Errr... the article makes a BIG mistake saying she refused to show her face because in fact she DID! Here is the official french ruling saying that she took her veil off:

Honestly, I found the report fully of red herrings and little facts. The report says that she has adopted a "radicalized practise of her religion, in particular the equality of sexes". Now, how did the government reach that conclusion? Just wearing niqab makes you be "radical"?? As usual, we women are under scrutiny for what we choose to wear or not to wear. I, as a woman, find that highly objectifying.

In addition she responded to the claim of "incompatibility" that she did not think that preserving your culture was incompatible with French citizenship, that she valued that there was religious freedom in France, and that she would had never sought to challenge France's fundamental values, in particular secularism. In another paragraph she in fact says that she believes in the French values of liberty, equality and secularism. And then she says that she wearing a niqab does not constitute a proof for non-assimilation (and she presented past jurisprudence to prove that).

In the report is says that she wears the niqab out of habit, not conviction.

Her kids go to public school, a MALE gynecologist took care of her pregnancies, and she goes and does her shopping alone. The report says that she is "recluse" taking care of her household and going in walks with their babies and then going to his father-in-law 's house. How is THAT being a recluse? Most of my stay-at-home mom friends do the same. Should i go tell them that they don't know it, but that they're living in total submission to the men in their families?

Finally the report concludes that she doesn't espouse French values, in particularly the equality of sexes because of her dress AND her lifestyle. REALLY?

Aani Fatima Khatoon:

Mr. Kleine-Brockhoff

First, this woman would have to be WELL out of the shooting range of her husband and his tribe to find out if she has ANY choice in the matter of wearing niqab.

Second, NOWHERE in the Qur'an is this proscribed. In fact, during the Prophet's time, ONLY the Prophet's wives were veils, and that was to identify themselves as his wives. So, to begin with, for any other Muslim woman to wear one is insultingly pretentious to say the least.

Third, it is an established fact that wearing niqab or even hijab reduces the production of Vitamin D, and the subsequent vulnerability to cancer, which is rampant upon veiled women, is horrific. It ought to be outlawed every place on earth for HEALTH REASONS.

Fourth, it absolutely DOES criminalize the human body as a SEX ORGAN. While Muslims are waging this worldwide SALES AND MARKETING JOB to get women to effect their ISLAMIC BILLBOARDING FOR THEM --- hey, why don't the men wear tents to advertise Islam instead of making us women do it -- in point of fact women's sexuality is criminalized in Islamic literature, particularly the hadith and in treatises of Salafist, Taleban and Wahhabi origin, and it is also criminalized the constant sale of the piety of women as utterly equivalent to the ownership of their sexuality by men.

I am disappointed that you are so sanctimonious as to completely disregard what is right in front of your face.


The use of women for Islamic Billboarding, which is what is happening here, and the criminalization of the female form, which is apparently just fine with you, has to stop.

Anonymous 007:

Bill Mosby: "Should cultural assimilation be a requirement for citizenship?" Of course. Next question.

Why do tolerant societies consider INTEGRATION (within multicultural societies) to be sufficient? ... They are, incidentally, those societies that have the least problems with immigrants?

Case in point: Canada.

By the way, widespread, petty, anti-Muslim comments on this board are nothing less than sickening. That PG gives a voice to such non-Muslim fanatics is beyond me.

L.Kurt Engelhart:

"Should cultural assimilation be a requirement for citizenship? The state may reject an immigrant’s petition to become a citizen if and when an applicant rejects the basic constitutional principles. To base the rejection of citizenship on a piece of clothing is a doubtful proposition. In fact, it is not troubling what is on her head, but inside of it. While a piece of clothing is not sufficient evidence to base the rejection of an immigrant petition upon, it may well be part of the evidence."

I complement Kleine-Brockhoff on a well reasoned argument. As he points out, reason is unlikely to end the controversy.


If she's unwilling to show her face for citizenship then she should have that big red 'DENIED' stamped on her paperwork. She can wear the Burqa on the street, in class, in the bathroom but she has to properly identify herself to the government she's seeking citizenship from. It's unreasonable to hold your religion up and say the rules don't apply to me. The French governments reasoning is stupid, but the end result is right. Make a law about proper ID and make everyone follow the rule....that should fix it.

This is a ploy for attention and nothing more.


Folks...may be she is just very, very ugly and wants to keep it hidden....have you not just thought about that?

Bill Mosby:

"Should cultural assimilation be a requirement for citizenship?"

Of course.

Next question.


The world will be much better if the Divine presence is inside the head and heart rather than outside.


Premier(July 21, 2008 7:42 AM)gets it wrong. Sharia is not "fashion", but a believe system in direct opposition to freedom and democracy. No democracy has an obligation to provide citizenship to those who wish to change the nation from democracy.


Tomas, it is not only outrageous but also unconstitutional. "Fashion" is a choice and symbolizes freedom.

If the French Government is that stupid, how can they enforce their trade agreements to other countries? Are they saying that they would close the border as well?

Now I see why "Carla Bruni" is there. Voluntarily listing their country into the List of No-Brainers?? Is France giving up its democracy?


I read the article and let me admit that I could not make out most of what has been said. The basic facts I could understand. The information that the lady refused to take her photograph or a female court employ to look at her face to identify her. It shows her or her husbands stubborn mulishness. She has told that she is not interested in voting rights or any such facilities she will get as a citizen. Then why she wants the citizenship at all. She is already with her husband and children.
It looks that they are more interested in making an issue of the whole affair than getting citizen ship.
Any country has every right to decide whom it should give citizenship or refuse. It is the look out of the country. If the authorities feel that a person is not suitable to enter the country they can refuse without assigning any reason. The French court has done the right thing in refusing citizenship to the lady.


This is a typical neo-fsascism action that reminds me about the atrocities committed by the same bunch that share the same DNA of hatred towards aspects of a life that differs from theirs.

Their hateful philosophy is not based just on the piece of clothing but go deeply beyond it and use the Burqa as a scapegoat to achieve their end.

These fascists are bad pupils who never learn from the past. Have they already forgotten what they did to the Jews who were proud people who assimilated themselves to citizens of Europe but paid the ultimate price for expressing their personality.

They werent bad citizens after all. They paid their taxes, did their patriotic duties when asked to but were happy to feel Jews and there should be nothing wrong in that.

Do we wait for Muslims to be single out like the Jews and the continuation of Islamophobia combined with the "war on terror" before Euroepans can speak up against such individual harassement for deciding to wear a different piece of clothing to express themselves.

As for the comment below:
"Fadela Amara, an undersecretary in Nicolas Sarkozy’s government, called the court decision “excellent and legal”. She said it is “based on the values of our republic” and it will “strengthen the rights of women”. For Amara, a Muslim herself and descendent of Algerian Berber immigrants, a burqa is “a straitjacket for females” and a sign of a “totalitarian political project”. Amara argues that a burqa, a veil and a headscarf are pretty much the same thing. But are they really? And in all instances?"

I wonder whether this uneducated narrow minded full of prejudice undersecretary person can say loudly and full of pride its objection towards the catholics Nuns that wear the headscarf as an expressions of their faith or those Jews who do not just wear the KIPPAH but their traditional clothing too with pride, would she dare to single them out with such venum coming from her mouth? I dont think so!

The Talmud relates two stories about the custom of covering one's head. In one place it says, "Rav Huna the son of Rabbi Joshua never walked four cubits with his head uncovered. He said 'because the Divine Presence is always over my head.'" (Talmud, Kiddushin 32a)

Therefore from testimonies of the Bible, Talmud and the Quran, wearing modestly is something that doesnt exist just among Muslims but among Christians and Jews too as prescribed in the appropriate Holy books.

Therefore assimilating to French culture means being a good citizen who does good to society and help promote understanding between different groups regardless whether you eat couscous, ratatouille, salade nicoise or snails.

French Culture is supposed to be about equality, diversity and brotherhood and not picking up on the weak and the vulnerable.


Yes, assimilation should be a requirement for citizenship. Too many people come here seeking citizenship but are not interested in becoming American's. I happen to know a Muslim that is a citizen - but he still claims Morocco as his home country. A lot of the hispanic population is the same way, we all should remember their marches on DC for rights as all of their signs were in Spanish and they were all waving the Spanish Flag.




in the USA,it is against the law to wear a mask in public. I have no problem with that and think it would apply to the burga as well. terrorists have dressed themselves in burgas to carry out their activities and if there is truly seperation of church and state, she should show her face...she can't be that ugly, can she...


Let's get real here. If this was a man in a mask he wouldn't be able to do this, common sense has to take over at some point.

Liberté, égalité, fraternité, they need to mean something, and people who move to France need to adapt to the ideals, or move someplace else.

I can well understand wanting to throw a sack over your head for that awful ID photo part of all this. Somehow those pictures never look good. Part of the whole point of these exercises in attestation is a self identification component though that goes beyond a picture.

Kasim Dogan:

First of all I would like to say 'Congratulations' for a really objective article. It really sums up a big problem that many societies have to deal with. For example here in Turkey, women with headscarfs are not allowed in official buildings. This situation really occupied my head for a long time. French court's decision is of course arguable. But the so called ''victim'' denies showing her face even during a citizenship application! Then I think it really shows the reality of today's world. A burqa,turban,headscarf of any kind all have turned out to be a tool for monsters who feed themselves on turmOil in certain parts of the world leading people to keep their minds busy with really simple but sensitive issues while they constantly take advantage of the situation.

Muslim women, especially in the Middle East do not cover their heads or hair but their brains. Most of them have to do that because of their husbands or parents. It really shows how people can be manipulated and how little they think,interpret and try to get deeper in certain things in life.

While the first command of Qor'an is 'READ!' we unfortunately witness existence of a mass who call themselves muslims but actually have nothing to do with Islam because they don't even care about reading and trying to interpret Qor'an for themselves. They see some provocators and they imitate them and religion somehow becomes tradition while losing its core. Also Islam puts women on a different scale giving them rights for inheritance.etc but for centuries men who claimed to be the sole defender of the religion imprisoned their women in houses and kept the first teachers of society under the shadow of headscarf and its varieties. Now so called leaders of many nations wonder why they are so far back in civilisation. They dont even know their religion and what their religion says about women and they keep women uneducated,not thinking,questioning but fully obeying servants of their desires,purposes&evil intentions. To sum up, this is a really questionable topic for both sides. But despite everything I want women to start thinking and acting if possible.

Stephen Suffern:

I am an American attorney living in Paris (member of the bar in both Paris and New York) and involved in immigration and civil rights cases in France. I thought your readers might be interested in the following document, prepared by the CCIF (Collectif contre l'Islamophobie en France), a French organization fighting against discrimination against Muslims, prepared after a recent meeting with the couple involved in this case. The document is obviously in French, and too long to translate, but I suppose a good number of those of your readers interested in what is happening over here will be able to understand it. I hope the transmission of a document in a foreign language is not a problem for the Washington Post.

The document follows:

Arrêt du Conseil d’Etat concernant le refus d’octroi de la nationalité :
Entretien du CCIF avec les membres de la famille.

Après que le Conseil d’Etat ait décidé à travers son arrêt en date du 27 juin
2008 de confirmer la décision du ministère des affaires sociales de refuser la
nationalité française à l’épouse d’un ressortissant français au motif « d’une
pratique radicale de sa religion », le CCIF a souhaité en savoir plus sur cette
affaire en prenant contact avec la famille. Le CCIF n’a pas pour vocation de
faire l’apologie d’une tenue ni de la dénigrer d’ailleurs. Il s’inscrit
uniquement sur le plan du droit et des libertés.

En l’espèce, il s’agissait de comprendre quelles informations ont été retenues
par le Conseil d’Etat pour motiver sa décision.

Nous nous sommes rendus au domicile de la famille. Nous avons tout de suite été
touchés par l’accueil, la gentillesse, la générosité, la modestie et la
simplicité de chacun. La discussion était intéressante, diverse voir
contradictoire dans le respect des opinions de chacun.

La première question qui nous venait à l’esprit était de savoir les raisons pour
lesquelles ils ne voulaient pas rencontrer les journalistes ? Cela aurait pu
constituer une opportunité pour s’exprimer devant l’opinion publique. Ils en
reçurent certains nous précisent ils mais ils ne voulaient pas accorder leur
confiance à d’autres parce qu’ils « déforment les propos et nous n’avons aucune
possibilité de vérifier ce qui va être dit sur notre compte par la suite».

Trois heures de discussion ne nous ont pas permis de déplorer des propos ou des
attitudes que l’on pouvait qualifié objectivement de radicales. Nous avons
alors demandé ce qui avait pu selon eux motiver la décision du Conseil d’Etat.
La réponse ne semblait souffrir d’aucun doute. Les conclusions des rapports de
polices et sociaux indiquent que le comportement en société de madame est
considéré comme incompatible avec les valeurs essentielles de la communauté

Madame F. s’exprime très bien en français. Elle est mariée à un français. Elle
vit depuis huit ans en France et elle n’a pas revu son pays d’origine depuis
six ans. « J’aime ce pays » dit-elle. On peut le croire aisément puisqu’elle a
fait le choix de venir y vivre. Elle y a d’ailleurs toutes ses attaches. Ses
parents vivent également en France depuis trente six ans et ses frères et sœurs
ont eux-mêmes la nationalité française. Cette situation permettrait presque à
elle seule de comprendre qu’elle veuille rejoindre le destin commun d’une
famille qui a choisi de faire de la France son pays d’adoption et de cœur.

Elle portait le voile avant de se marier et de venir en France contrairement à
ce qui a été dit et surtout souligné dans le rapport d’enquête. L’apprentissage
en commun de la religion musulmane l’a amené ainsi que son mari à plus
d’orthodoxie dans leur pratique personnelle mais cela n’a eu aucune incidence
dans leurs rapports avec les autres. Nous avons dit orthodoxie et pas
radicalité car ce dernier suppose que cette femme vit recluse, sans contacts
extérieurs. C’est d’ailleurs ce que le rapport de la Direction Départementale
des Affaires Sanitaire et Sociale (DDASS) avance.

La tenue : élément central d’appréciation

Madame F porte désormais le niqab et non pas la burqa comme l’affirme la DDASS.
Mais cette dernière ne pouvait pas le savoir étant donné que l’entretien que
ses agents ont eu avec Madame F s’est déroulé à son domicile et qu’elle était
alors « habillée à l’européenne » (sic). Elle leur a surement expliqué comment
elle s’habillait à l’extérieur mais ils ont imaginé un « visage grillagé »
(sic). Leur imagination les a-t-elle mené consciemment ou non à faire un lien
avec les femmes d’Afghanistan que l’on voit dans les médias ? La responsable du
bureau de la nationalité qui rencontre Madame F dans son bureau ne fait pas
cette erreur et ne relève donc pas ce « grillage ». Mais elle décrit avec
minutie (longueur, couleur etc) la tenue avec laquelle Madame F s’est
présentée. L’importance qui est donnée dans les différents rapports à la tenue
vestimentaire non seulement de Madame mais également de Monsieur (totalité du
rapport des services de police, plusieurs paragraphes dans les rapports des
services sociaux et administratifs) suppose que pour être français il est
préférable d’être habillé à la convenance des autorités administratives que de
savoir s’exprimer dans la langue du pays dont on souhaite acquérir la
nationalité. A tel point que le rapport tient à préciser que Monsieur est vêtu
d’un pantacourt resserré au dessus des chevilles mais surtout que sa barbe est
« d’une largeur approximative de deux mains » !!!! A partir de quelle taille la
barbe serait acceptable pour qu’une conjointe puisse obtenir la nationalité
française ?

Pourquoi tant d’insistance sur la tenue de ce couple ? Ce sont des informations
qui n’auraient pas suffit à fonder une décision de refus mais les rapporteurs
devaient être convaincus que les préjugés entourant cette tenue ne pouvaient
laisser insensible l’opinion voir les juges de l’administration.

Le mode de vie du couple

C’est le point crucial de cette enquête qui aurait motivé le refus. L’enquête
sociale semble avoir été faite en plusieurs temps. Une première enquête avec un
rapport succinct indique que Madame F communique aisément, lit et écrit le
français. Elle est même considérée comme suffisamment assimilée pour accomplir
seule les démarches de la vie courante !! Dans le paragraphe consacré à
l’insertion dans la communauté française il est indiqué que Madame F vit dans
un milieu composé de nationalités différentes et que les échanges se font en

Cependant, l’enquêtrice ne semble pas apprécier que Madame F ne soit pas
inscrite dans un club sportif !! En effet, Madame F explique que de s’occuper
de ses trois enfants en bas âge ne lui laisse pas beaucoup de temps pour se
consacrer au sport dans un club même si elle en fait chez elle. D’ailleurs,
cette impossibilité n’est pas seulement appliquée au sport puisqu’elle précise
que pour les mêmes raisons elle n’a pas d’engagement religieux non plus. A
l’heure où l’on considère que certains parents ne sont pas assez sensibles à
l’éducation de leurs enfants, cette qualité essentielle ne semble pas servir
Madame F.

Dans le rapport faisant suite à une enquête complémentaire, nous apprenons que
le couple prend ses décisions ensemble, que madame sort souvent seule ou avec
ses enfants, qu’elle conduit le véhicule de la famille, qu’elle fait les achats
seule et utilise la carte bancaire et qu’elle n’a pas de problèmes de couple. Le
couple indique voir des films de cinéma en famille. Madame maitrise l’outil
informatique et est à l’aise avec internet.

Elle ne travaille pas parce qu’elle s’occupe de ses enfants mais aimerait un
jour avoir une activité professionnelle.

Mais l’enquêtrice ne semble pas se satisfaire des réponses de Madame F qui était
selon elle « à l’aise pendant l’entretien ». Elle souhaite interroger le mari
seul. L’entretien avec le mari allait il avoir une incidence sur le jugement
de l’enquêtrice ? En tout état de cause les réponses du mari qui lui précise se
rendre régulièrement à la prière, considérer que l’égalité entre les hommes et
les femmes et le droit de vote sont des points positifs, que l’islam lui semble
mal compris en France, ne semblent pas convenir à l’enquêtrice. Elle n’a pas
ressenti la même chose pour Monsieur. Elle considère qu’elle a été obligée
d’insister pour obtenir des réponses précises puis conclut son rapport en
indiquant que « compte tenu du doute ressenti … maintiens l’avis
défavorable ».

Provocation ?

Mais le plus choquant d’un point de vue déontologique est la demande de
l’enquêtrice qui, après avoir invité le couple à s’assoir, demande à Madame F
de bien vouloir retirer son voile. Madame F s’est exécutée et à ce moment est
entré dans le bureau un homme prétextant la recherche d’un dossier !
Visiblement cette manœuvre était destinée à observer la réaction du couple. Ne
semblant pas convaincue par la réaction du couple, l’enquêtrice s’est alors
permis de demander une fois seule avec Madame F, si cela ne l’a pas gêné. En
tout état de cause, ce genre de provocation est indigne d’une administration
qui se dit respectueuse de tous.

yassin abdilliahi from somaliland:

the court and french immigration has made great blunders by refusing Faiza's citizenship only for her islamic dress!!!!!!!
but only Faiza is wrong if she refused a female officer who checks her face without the presence of anymale.

indeed, the recent time has proved that frenckh government has moved in a wrong direction,at the wrong time. making muslims in france a second class citizens but the consequence will be different anytime soon.

it is high time should either make a change of direction or face what happened Denmark government.


This is the world of Almighty Allah. U, Me, all of us would go one day. This is Allah's property and in His eyes "every one is Equal" But "He Gives Favors Whom Who Follows HIM". PLEASE foucs on No Killing of Mankind, Stop drugs, Stop adultery and wine.

Burqa is made only, perhaps, to avoid bad eyes of hungry men around.


Mr. Kleine-Brockhoff,

Being a naturalized Frenchman, this story of course interested me. But to my great surprise there is a gross factual error in your second sentence.

The Conseil d'Etat did not "uphold the decision of the city government of Paris" as you state. The city government of Paris does not have any jurisdiction over citizenship.

As Senior Director of the Marshall Fund I don't know how you could have imagined any city government, anywhere at any time since say the 16th century, has ever had jurisdiction over naturalization.

Your second paragraph also begins with a problematical premise: "The modern Western nation-state is a community of political values. Citizenship is not based on cultural values, not on blood and not on ethnicity." As I'm sure you know, German nationality was based on 'jus sanguinis' (the right of blood) from 1914 until 2000. This provision of German law prevented tens of thousands of legal aliens born on German soil from obtaining German citizenship throughout the 20th century. It was impossible even for them to petition for naturalization if they had no "German blood."

While your words are high-sounding, the facts on the ground are a bit more nuanced, and you seem to lack a fully coherent grasp of them.

Asim, San Antonio:

U still did not publish my expert opinion and yet u publish garbage such as that of " Vangurads Of Hol{i} Cosmic Nebula.Made Earth(s), not Qurans, Bibles, Gita..(s):," just look at this latter comment!!!!!!

bill clint:

I think it is wrong to deny this mother her right to be in the same country as the rest of her family. Paris and the French government as a whole is stealing this lady's right to ask for a dignified life even within her household. You are giving her husband one more tool of abuse, do you think not? more thing, it is a very relaxing life for a woman to be spared from the chore of putting make-up every day. Try it!


I think french did the right thing, as immigrant we should obey the rule where we live. In Indonesia for native people, we should use scraf for women in Aceh although they not believe in moslim. It means Moslem never tolerate other religion and now they try in French. You right french


French law don't care about burga, they stated that this woman didn't respect the laws about other women freedom, her faith counter the human rights values, so she doesn't share the basement of western's democraty about freedom and respect of the french sociaty! she can't be a french citizen, as anyone that ask US citizenship that doesn't respect US laws and constitution can't be american!

freedom as a sociaty starts with the respect of the rules and others freedom!

Pope benedic:

Well since when americans wanna tells lessons of democraty?

making france as an intolerent country?

since when Burga is a religious symbol?

when are you ireland women's no right to abortion?

when you'll have a brain?

when you'll complain about the red sox wearing the same colors on a game pitch as an anti constitutional behaviour from sport clubs?

when will you complain about your demacratic behave to invade and kills almost 1 millions ppl in iraq without any threat?

lots of questions, lots of non answered questions!


What if I went to live Saudi Arabia, drank wine in the open, went about my business ignoring the calls for prayer, and kissed my girlfriend in public. Would that go down well? I don't think so. So, when you come to Christian and/or secular countries, take off your burka.

Ibrahim Mahfouz:

Gill says:
"But for Salafis, suicide bombing is meant to be used on civilians, who are fair game. Sunnis will never think this way, it's hard-coded into the religion not to."

When the Quran orders the fighting of the non-believers as in Quran 9:29 it does not distinguish between a civilian and a non-civilian unbeliever. The Salafis are adopting that argument. They cite the example of your Prophet when dealing with the Jewish tribes of Arabia. He killed all males over 10 years of age and enslaved all the rest. You are trying to distance yourself from the Jihadists, but do not base your argument on the teachings of Islam, because violence is at the core of that ideology

Christopher H. Holte:

Democracy is not about fashion statements, but it is about personal freedom and the power that individuals and communities should assert within the State, and working together, to ensure majority rule and rule of law by all. Rights don't just get granted -- people have to assert them.

If a woman wants to wear a Burkha that should be her freedom, the State should not force her not to wear one. At the same time, the community she lives in should be able to force her to wear one and the State should assert her individual right to wear or not wear what she wants to -- within reason.

She should learn what democracy is about. Then she should be free to exercise personal freedom.


No face, no ID, no citizenship. Could you imagine the amount of 'religions' that would spring up that insist that facial identification was unholy if this went through? Criminals without a fingerprint record would have a huge loophole through which to pass.

William K.:

The niqab is incontrovertibly a symbol of repression, regardless of what the wearer thinks of it. Anyone arguing the contrary has does not understand the social dynamics of fundamentalist Islam in the Arab world.


I am a normal, peace-loving French man.

I have a beautiful old German uniform from the 3rd Reich. Would you like me to wear it out someday?

Morton Kurzweil:

It is most important that anyone discussing Islam or the cultural behavior based on sharia to read the Qur'an. It may come as a shock to Westerners how absolute blind faith and obedience are the foundation of this religion.
Islam requires acknowledgment of the authority of the Qur'an and to Allah to guide in the "Straight Way, The way of those whom You have bestowed Your Grace, not the way of those who earned Your Anger(such as th Jews), nor those who went astray (such as the Christians), (Surah 1, The Opening).

No other religion is built on the domination of another rather than the establishment of rules of ethical and moral conduct.
The effect is that the conduct of Muslims varies with the interpretation of those who control the political power in a society.

The wearing of a burqa is a local custom, but like all behavior within Islam, every act is considered an expression of the will of Allah.
When a population is transfixed with such conviction, it is easy to understand how it will be unable to accept the culture of others as anything but an affront to their belief in their God.
It is not the burqa, it's the head inside that is a danger to civil liberties.


what a terrifying precedent - I can foresee Cheney's Jesuslandia where the true test of patriotism is wearing a flag pin

(oh, it's already here? OK, then)


She must be Assimiltated.

Resistance is Futile


" Constitutional Patriotism". I like this interpretation. I am sure that Mrs. Fiza M has definitely Violated the constitutional Rules. Then she definitely violated the "French Citizen's Privilege.
In liberated Western Societies and their cultures, Wearing Burqa is itself a abominable act. I saw myself that little children on the street were terrified by seeing a Burqa Clad woman, and the children ran to hide of their mother's back. Immediately it had come to my mind that this Burqa clad woman violated the children's of their privileges.
Using Burqa means to isolate and segregate one self from maine stream of contemporary societies, and that attempted abnormal act is it self violates Citizens' Privileges and rights.

Richard Dimic:

Bravo, bravo, bravo, Mr. Kleine-Brockhoff! This article should be read again and again in France and should serve as a cautionary message to all Western Democracies.

With the "indictment" of the president of Sudan for war crimes, as defined by Western men, Western men should humbly explore their own souls and their own definitions of human dignity at home on their own soil. They could start with a serious discussion of this article.

- Richard

Deb Chatterjee:

Glen wrote:

"The makers of our Constitution undertook to secure conditions favorable to the pursuit of happiness. They recognized the significance of man's spiritual nature, of his feelings and of his intellect. "

That's another mad hatter psychobabble. Thomas Jefferson, extrapolating today from what we know about his political and philosophical convictions from the history of the 1770s, would summarily reject any Muslim immigration to USA.

Those who would enter the secular country only with the express objective of manipulating the local laws to overturn/overthrow the existing laws and order, would certainly need to ne kicked out or stopped at the borders. The radicalization of Muslims in Europe and other western countries is not because there is poverty amongst these Muslims. It is simply because the Muslims (that is the radicalized minority) feel that the European countries don't embrace Islam sufficiently enough or have respect for that matter. The gulf between Islam and "Sinful" Secular Western values are the chasm of fault lines in this inevitable Clash of Civilizations. Someone of the stature of Thomas Jefferson would have not wasted time in debating the political correctness of upholding Islamic Shariah over the Constitution that James Madison and others formulated.

It is ridiculous to argue that Jefferson would have favored Muslim Shariah laws to prevail at equal level with Secular Western laws.

France belongs to the French:

In Morocco you often see the older women in burqas and their daughters pushing a baby carriage in jeans.

In Tunisia they have rights for women - but to get around honoring them - many go to the villages to marry a young uneducated girl from there.

It seems that is what this French Moroccan man has done - he bypassed all suitable women in France and went all the way to Morocco to marry someone he knew he could control. And as a Muslim woman his new wife threw herself completely under his control.

The French first proposed this idea of selective citizenship some years ago - I believe that the current French president was elected partly on this mandate. It was passed into law.

They proposed that any man who keeps his wife locked away in the house and does not wish to integrate into French society - should not be given citizenship - that simply having spent a number of years in the country – was no longer a guarantee for citizenship - every new applicant will have to be placed on a period of probation.

France belongs to the French - if you are only there to say openly we reject France - and the French way of life - but we want citizenship - and one day (God willing) we hope to transform this country into an Islamic state - then the French have the right to reject this application for citizenship.

Saudi Arabia might be best for the couple - perhaps the Saudis should look to expanding out into the desert - in order to allow more Muslims converted by their philosophy to remain.

The one problem I see is that where more extremist Muslims are turned down for citizenship in one country - they will simply apply in another. So for instance - the UK might find that 1000's of radicalized Muslims begin applying for citizenship in that country. No doubt where ever they gather they will seek to change the laws of that country to Islamic ones.


Of course it is not wearing a veil the French government objects to. It is the insistance of Ms. Faiza to recject the basic premises of French society. In particular, her opiniated stance that women should obey their husband at all time and should shun independent thinking. This contradicts two of the tenets of French society: equality and liberty. At the very basis of France is the concept women are equal and are free to think and reason independently. Her veil is just a symbol for her deep denying of the basic principles of the French society. This is not a "cultural" characteristic. It is a deliberate attempt to refute the society she seeks to belong to. No socieity has the obligation to extend membership to those who refuse its values. I am hopefull this is a arbinger of a new attitude throughought the Western World. If you want to join us you have to adopt our basic principles of life. Nobody is forcing you to become French or American. If you can accept our way of living, you can go back to Moroco.


Other reports that I have read said that Faiza M. DID, in fact, remove her burqa when the men left the room.

Regardless, the author skipped the issue of WHY they asked her to remove it. They weren't going to take a passport photo that day. Most likely, like the dust up in the UK last year involving a government official who announced that he would require Muslim women to take of their head coverings when they came to his office, this request was solely for provocation.

In the West, traditionally immigrants faced "few cultural conditions to become a citizen." Thus, it is clear that with the banning of the headscarves for Muslim girls in school and this verdict France has "violated the very Western values" it claims to be fighting for. On immigration, treatment of Muslims, the Arab-Israeli conflict, Iran and the "war on terror" I see no daylight at all between US policy and France's.


If"what you believe is more important than what you wear" shouldn't we pay attention to what is obvious rather than what we guess? The author does a good deal of guessing and assuming when in fact the obvious manifestations of Faiza M clearly indicate her unwillingness to belong to the country which adopted her.

Frankly, in situations like this the immigrant should be boldly asked: Why are you here?
It is a matter of semantics only whether she has "insufficiently assimilated to French culture" or otherwise shows her contempt for it, or even that she cherry picks at what the French society has to offer while clearly reserving her right to reject what she doesn't want.

And finally, let the French deal with their immigration mess the best way they see fit even as they-- as many other nations who fell for the so-called multiculturalism concept--are finding out that their way of life and customs are not always what the immigrants desire.


ALL fancy excuses neglect the economic/social imperative for all of Europe and Japan/Canada/Russia/USA:

all these countries have negative fertility rates [that is below replacement of population] with the exception of USA, whose fertility is positive for the sole reason that the Spanish speaking immigrants still have high reproductive rate. Both the European and the African derived population has negetive fertility rate according to the USA Census Bureau's last publication.

When you need immigrants on one hand and try to PROTECT THE PREVAILING CULTURE OF YOUR STATE you come out with spin: such as the recent ruling in France. This satisfies the, at present, majority of native born citizens. That in 30 years or so this group might be majority, or at least the immigrants [and their offsprings] will be possibly majority or at least absolute plurality is besides the point, by that time there will be other judicial/political spins.

The European derived societies will have to import immigrants from the far east, africa, or the indian subcontinent, non of thse places matches the culture, ethics or ethos of Eurtopean descent -- so there will be many such human right abuses as happened in France, be they by the state directly [USA immigrant abuse] or by a court [France]. the end result will be always the same, the White race??? will be assimilated by the COLORED RACE. we just have to learn to live with it, as we learned to live with WMD-s enough to blow away the huamn species TWICE OVER.

Gl to the bigots and excuse makers agreeing woith the judgement.

Amazed in 21st Century:


This statement by you

"I am in favor of de-Islamicizing Europe and France but it has to be done logically, not in a silly way."

leaves a lot of things unsaid. Didn't you also want to add that it should be done systematically, with time-tables and schedules, using organized sweeps that gather the cargo and deliver it to suitably hidden destinations?


So, it has come to this? Is there any other reason to find the reason behind the riots?


A society is built on relationships: family, neighborhood, nation. Someone without a face (for this is what a burqua wearing woman is) is not part of these and never can be. I lived in Iran before the revolution. Even then many women wore a chadore which covers everything but the face. Chadores are not a problem, for those who wore them were identifyable. I could communicate with them, do business with them, admire their children, know them as neighbors, give them a smile and otherwise participate with them in their society. Burquas NO! Scarves and chadors are their business>


Brockhoff says:
The case highlights a dilemma all Western countries face when dealing with immigration. They would like to base decisions of naturalization on the political and constitutional concept of citizenship, but need some additional “cultural indicators” to find out.

I have posted many times on different threads that the veil, which is a cultural indicator, when worn in the West would be to make a statement that the wearer renounces that culture. I also said that it is most likely it is the men folk who force their women to wrap themselves. I was proved here to be right on both counts.


Salafi-Jihaddiyah is evil and intent on destroying the West. Wake up Europe.


yeah a bush fascist remarked the other day that freedom of speech doesn't mean freedom from consequences, on a day when there was evidence of retaliatory conduct by the federal government. We rarely see profound reaffirmations of our rights these days, though we do have a history.
in Whitney v. California (1927), Justice Louis Brandeis wrote that "freedom to think as you will and to speak as you think are means indispensable to the discovery and spread of political truth."
He was particularly prescient in Olmstead, noting
'the progress of science in furnishing the government with means of espionage is not likely to stop with wire tapping. Ways may some day be developed by which the government, without removing papers from secret drawers, can reproduce them in court, and by which it will be enabled to expose to a jury the most intimate occurrences of the home. Advances in the psychic and related sciences may bring means of exploring unexpressed beliefs, thoughts and emotions.' He added,
The makers of our Constitution undertook to secure conditions favorable to the pursuit of happiness. They recognized the significance of man's spiritual nature, of his feelings and of his intellect. They knew that only a part of the pain, pleasure and satisfactions of life are to be found in material things. They sought to protect Americans in their beliefs, their thoughts, their emotions and their sensations. They conferred, as against the government, the right to be let alone-the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men.


What you believe is reflected in what you wear.
See KKK.


This is no more than a person chained to a terrorist organization gaming the laws of civilization to destroy civilization. Islam is the civilized worlds mortal enemy. It is an inherent terror organization. It is using this woman to wedge in further their intent to destroy civilized society from within.

The problem is denial by the West, that an organization who claims to be a religion are really terrorists and no different ideologically than al Qaeda.


"Faiza M. declared that she was not interested in her political rights and that she would not want to vote."

Citizenship is a responsibility, not a right. Faiza M. is unwilling to meet the responsibilities of citizens--indeed, they may violate her religious beliefs. That's enough. Application denied and case closed!

The burqa and everything else mentioned here is irrelevant.

William Crain:

She can be identified in many other ways, the bureaucracy needs to expand its 'think'. She is not from all facts herein a threat to any form of governance civil moral or in any other way. Perhaps another category of Citizen needs to be investigated. How would it be in Morocco for her family to become citizens there? Mexico, Guatemala, Britain? Seems to me that WE might seek a uniform code of citizenship exchange internationally.
Here in Montana we have a religious sect, Heuterites, the women all wear head scarves and are clearly instructed that education beyond 8th grade is NOT Kosher:) The have no outside information, save the newspaper, No TV (probably a good thing) No radio, No Internet, etc; Yet they are good citizens, work very hard from dawn til dusk, and supply most of our garden needs at the local Farmers Mkts.
Though they have been born into citizenship i have a feeling they'd be suspect under the same veil as Faiza M. if they had to apply for it.


Deb Chatterjee says:Muslims must be prevented from immigrating to USA and becoming citizens.


Get the cob web out of your ears; you think like a third world gal. Apparently your thinking is still dominated by your old country's fears and prejudices. If there were a test on culture (USA), do you think you would pass??.


Good for France! We need to stop romanticizing "culture." Slavery was part of American "culture", but that doesn't make it right. We don't have to accept oppressive practices just because someone calls it religion. Polygamy, child brides, honor killings. I'm sick to death of all this barbaric nonsense. I'd tell them to go live where they will always coddle male insecurity, but I'd like their daughters to have a fighting chance when they try to arrange a marriage for them. Now if we could just do something about the fundamentalist Mormons with similar practices here!

Deb Chatterjee:

Muslims must be prevented from immigrating to USA and becoming citizens. A point which is why me, as a naturalized citizen of USA, would vote against Barak Obama in this upcoming US presidential elections.

I have two (amongst many) anecdotal incidents to cite in defense of my decision.

1. Sometime back in St. Paul, Minnesota, Somali cabbies refused to take American passengers because they were carrying pork and alcohol - both which are forbidden ("haram") in Islamic dictates (Shariah/Quran).

Is this is a problem ? Yes it is. On the long term USA would face problems. Why ? Because non-Muslim immigrants like myself, came here simply because USA was a land of opportunity with its unique Constitutional right to Freedom of Speech, Religion and Expression. Pandering to the political correctness of respecting "rights of Muslims" would tantamount to denying rights of others. Maybe the Minnesota situation is controlled by making some "quick fixes" on local laws, and bringing the order. However, how long ? Tomorrow some other problem shall erupt with Muslims demanding mandatory time out with Friday prayers, recognizing Muslim religious holidays in addition of Christmas and Hannukah. In addition, how can one guarantee that somewhere down the road, Shariah personal laws would not play a parallel role with that of what is in the US Constitution ? Already, UK has been now trying to have a separate legal system to pacify its large Muslim population (from Pakistan). We would see the same thing here too. Shariah laws clearly oppose singing any national anthem.

2. Recently the NYT reported that some Muslims of Pakistani origin (and living in USA) have sent their US-born sons back to Pakistani madrassas to get education on what "real" Islam is. We all know what Pakistani madrassas do (from newspapers). It is not unconceivable that "homegrown sleeper cells" would be created from such "indoctrinated" prodigal sons. Why take this risk ? Yes Fraeed Zakaria opines (in Newsweek) that Al-Qaeda is largely "defanged", but what prevents these new sleeper cells from creating havoc within USA ? If we have to believe and trust everything that Zakaria is states, we would only end up cursing ourselves, because Zakaria doesn't have any clue on how to prevent these terrorist attacks by sleeper cells. He condemns terrorism, and laments that 7/7 London subway bombers should have been apprehended, but does not say how could it have been done. We also know that our existing western secular laws are woefully inadequate to apprehend these Muslim terrrorists. Terrorists adapt to the system by finding holes in the laws. There are also ACLU and other human-rights organizations who would pounce on the prosecutors, when it is acknolwedged that to gather evidence via wiretapping would be difficult and maybe inadmissable in court if legislative processes were not strictly followed. That would mean a very long drawn proceedure and by the time anything meaningful comes up, the terrorists have had good enough time to adapt.

The story is a sordid tale of defeat of the western society and its laws by Muslim extremists who are extremely adaptive yet small in number.

Is this what we want - to assure destruction of the western secular society in the hands of Muslim extremists who have backing from gabby civil rights activists like Jesse Jackson ?

France made the right though unpleasant decision, and VIVE LA FRANCE !


I lived in Paris, but it was 20 years ago. There were numerous immigrants there from Northern Africa, including Algerians, Moroccans and Tunisians as well as sub-Sahara black Africans. I don't think I ever saw a woman wearing what I call full muslim get-up. They just didn't do it in Paris. This change in dress came years later with the growth of Muslim fundamentalism throughout the Arab world, Iran and Afghanistan in the 80s. Though a frequent critic of France, with a love-hate realtionship for my home for 4 years, I applaud the French for this decision. This woman can stay, raise her children and live in France with her French-born Moroccan-origin husband. But she hasn't assimilated enough to France to be granted French citizenship. They made the right call.


Ludicrous. One of the key tenets of democracy is FREEDOM. The burka is not just a symbol of OPPRESSION... it's a form of oppression.

These women aren't wearing a burka because they're exercising their freedom (as the author suggests).

They're wearing it because a they're following the teachings and lies of a 6th century false prophet.

They're wearing it because a majority of the other Muslims in France have also failed to assimilate, so failure to wear it would bring dishonor to herself and her family.


The lady chose to wear the niqab in Europe but not in Morocco? She won't show her face to another woman? How crazy is that?Her husband yearns to move to Saudi Arabia? These are people who came to France for economic opportunities, not because of any fondness for French culture or values. They would be happier in Saudi Arabia. The French would be wise to pay their way there. The husband is probably collecting costly unemployment benefits for the family. And unwilling to shave off a beard that he believes is hindering him from obtaining work. How long is that beard? There are plenty of Frenchmen with reasonable beards with decent jobs. The attitude of this creepy couple is pure, unadulterated defiance -- contempt -- of the country that has nurtured them, and justifies the court's decision.


The French idea of laicite, no religious establishment of any kind, is good. But the wearing of any clothing, crosses, other objects is up to the individual. I am in favor of de-Islamicizing Europe and France but it has to be done logically, not in a silly way.


I have been in Paris when well-armed riot police massed in their big blue buses to protect exhibits in the city's museums. One was an exhibit that came from Israel. One of my favorite book stores in Paris was firebombed in the 1980's. Both Iran and Algeria have encouraged terrorist activities in Paris and two years ago riots in muslim areas swept France. I will let the French decide what their requirements for citizenship should be and no US civil liberties extremist should believe that his utopian standards will prevail in the civilized world. Nor would I let the French decide what the US should do to protect itself after the events of September 11, 2001.

Asim, San Antonio:

WP:where is my post? Does it take 24 hours to go thru your censorship machine
? By then it becaomes history!!!!!!

Or is not allowed to provide expert opinion on the topic???????


'Ironically, the verdict will supply Faiza M.’s husband with another instrument of power. Klein wrote.

This woman chose to be loyal to traditions of her culture. She fully identifies with her oppressor.


Also, before people start jumping up to defend Salafi rights... Salafis account for probably 1% or less of Muslims. They are not Sunnis.--

thank you for your informations but see it from french side of the mirror:

who at the hell cares?! seriously.. why should french citizens start to study islam just for letting muslim immigrants into own socjety? do those muslims study french history, culture and relligions? do they feel and care about french customs and traditions? do they want to achieve french national and ethnical heritage and legacy? that is what french should care about. this is their duty and rights as french citizens.


---1. Were the next woman candidate for French citizenship to wear nothing, would it be OK, it being "somehow a symbol of" no-thought and, possibly, of no Ego?--

In France you cant go naked everyday in a street and you will to not be acsepted as french citizens too.

---2. Were a Muslim woman to wear a scaphander instead of the burqa, could she then become a French citizen?--

she would not. only when she works as diver or makes art. see french laws about worker uniforms.

--3. Should wearing the outfit of the KKK'S Imperial Wizard be sufficient ground for said Wizard to be deprived of the US nationality?--

WHAT?! translate this one in English please!


Also, before people start jumping up to defend Salafi rights... Salafis account for probably 1% or less of Muslims. They are not Sunnis.

To be a Sunni, you follow one of four schools of law (Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi'i, Hanbali... the founders of these schools all knew and recognized the other), and one of two schools of creed (Ashari (not to be confused with 'Athari', a mysterious third school that Salafis bring up) and Maturidi).

While there are certainly peaceful Salafi Muslims, and Salafis whose beliefs are more in line with Sunnis, the fact remains there's no reason for them to exist outside of Sunni Islam as they do. Virtually all terrorists are Salafis. The Taliban, for instance, are actual Sunnis, and they only started implementing suicide bombing after their POLITICAL allies (because they don't view Salafist Al-Qaeda as Sunni) encouraged them to do it in the face of annihilation. And they still use it against government and military targets, and justify the collateral damage by comparing it to NATO air power, which also randomly bombs things and kills lots of civilians for no reason. Suicide bombing has become their answer to that.

But for Salafis, suicide bombing is meant to be used on civilians, who are fair game. Sunnis will never think this way, it's hard-coded into the religion not to.

So while some Sunnis abhor Salafis (like those of us who realize they're ruining things for us), other Sunnis who are backed into corners (the Taliban, the Somalis, etc) will ally with the Salafis and overlook their religious differences. Yet the difference is there if the West were ever intelligent enough or willing enough to exploit it and finally end the threat from Islamic terrorism.

But it seems no one is interested in actually getting rid of the threat which is used as a pretext for so many unlawful things by governments in the West.


Brilliant article. Someone who can think clearly, a rarity.

It's unfortunate the burqa has become the focus here, because Salafis treat the burqa differently than Sunnis or Shiites. Sunni and Shiite women are allowed to have ID pictures taken or show their faces to other women according to their interpretation of the religion. But when they put on the burqa, it looks the same, so people might confuse them for the more Salafist sort of fundamentalist.

Citizen of the post-American world:

"On all occasions Faiza M. showed up with her husband. She declared that she had not been wearing the burqa in Morocco, but has been doing so at the suggestion of her French husband."

So much irony here!

1. Does it mean that only the "fully assimilated" husband who, alone obviously, adheres to "those values that are essential to French society", more particularly to "the principle of the equality of sexes", may now be considered a true French citizen? ***

2. Does it mean only women who are already French citizens may, from now on: a) be a disciple of salafism, b) wear a burqa (or whatever version of that garment they may prefer, be it Moroccan)?

3. Does it mean it is easier for us to be ever so "concerned about Muslim women", yet impotent when the time comes: a) to enshrine equal rights for women in the US Constitution, b) to provide women with equal opportunities and equal pay in US society, whatever the costs, c) to prosecute and imprison those who perpetuate, on a daily basis, discrimination against black and Latino women in the US?

Whatever happened to our sense of priorities?

Too much irony here! Far too much irony.


See the delightful cartoon by PESSIN at:


Excellent article, Herr Kleine-Brockhoff. Just what we needed, plenty of information and an informed opinion. I knew there had to be more to the story than we were hearing.

I'm really glad that even in the modern era of sound-bite journalism - "Woman's citizenship rejected for wearing a burka!" - we can get someone to tell us the entire story.

Thanks again.


Nobody seems to get the real issue: obviously, if the applicant of this case is wearing a Burqa, something that is not in her cultural tradition, and as she speaks French and has French children and presumably pays French taxes, she has chosen a non-violent way to register her protest to prejudices against a Morrocan/Muslim woman in France..... that is all.

Now, the French want to make an example of forcing foreigners to think in their way? Reminds me of the Soviet methods of being Etatist!
All in the land of Voltaire and Satre?


Muslim women can wear burqas as long as they show their faces.


Thank you Dr. Kleine-Brockhoff for this wonderful article.

The decision by the Conseil d'Etat raises important issues and is a grave precedent for all citizens of all countres, not just France. As you so eloquently stated, this goes to the heart of the citizenship definition and in turn, basic fundamental rights that should be protected and enjoyed by the permanent residents, would-be citizens, and citizens of a country.

The French decision is incomprehensible, as it not only shows a lack of respect for fundamental human rights, but also punishes the woman for the citizenship rights she so needs for her protection. 'Lacking a conviction to assimilate' is an ominous opinion that is reminiscent of authoritarian regimes and one that evokes comparison to the Third Reich. The decision leaves the granting of citizenship to the particular whims of the administrative officials, and is a direct violation of democratic principles.

Whether we as citizens or the government agrees with a person's religious or political affiliation is irrelevant to a person being granted the rights he or she deserves - and qualifies - in their particular country.

This is a sad day for France and indeed for the world where the prediction of an Orwellian society has come true. To have a Muslim French cabinet minister publicly applauding the decision and declaring her own biased opinion that the particular piece of clothing is an affront to Muslim women is beyond reprehensible. This is the kind of reaction we expect from countries that practice sharia law, not from an European 'republic'.

Concerned about muslim women:

A Moroccan woman wearing a burqa!!! Since when? That's not a Moroccan traditional wear and has never been!

As far as I know, in Morocco, to have the national ID card, a woman must show her face. Has that changed?

As an example, I wonder if this woman has to be operated on or be taken care of in a rehab facility ...if she'd require a woman doctor to save her life and an all women crew to take care of her? Just an example, and the reverse applies to her husband also. I'm sure that in Morocco, in a hospital, there are women doctors and nurses and that is not an issue for either sexes.

Would her husband wear a burqa?

I am saddened by this story and feel that this woman is abused and needs help.

I wish eveyone in the world would read about islam and the women behind the greatest men in the islamic world. The prophet's wife I think was in her fourties' when they married and he was in his twenties!!! She was a very successful business woman. Did she wear a barqa? Did women wear burquas in any of the islam ages? Research when that happened. I will.


Mr. Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff's Explanation of the issue is excellent!

Nevertheless I disagree with the judgement, only a police state needs to have photographs of all her citizens.

If the state does not take pictures of all her native born citizens- then the issue is pure and simple discrimnation, a.k.a. racial profiling in USA land.

It is well known that judges are political animals, look at the US Supreme Court [and the lower ones] f*rthing for yearts along with the "enemy combatants" a term unknown to the Geneva Convention [or any international law which is part of the USA Constitution].

I would suggest that any judge, be from France, USA or Russia, or anywhere else who wants to play politics, should resign from the banc, and run for office, These pseudo politicians disgrace the concept of Justice, International LAw, morality and the basic tenets of Human rights.

As an aside, I am not of Arab/Muslim background, though I am well familiarized with political judicial discrimnation, based on the sole issue that I am not rich.


the burqa 4 me is a cultural thing that has been imported from afghanistan n the rest of the middle east. the way i c it, livin in morocco n seein some of those salafists, u just feel uneasy around them. when u talk 2 them, they make a reference to wat the non believers accordin 2 them will suffer in hell. i jst wanna ask them 2 keep their philosphy 4 them cuz i dont go blurtin out my secular innerself 2 every1......
people in hijab nowadays in morocco wear it because of choice n its now considered more of a fashion accessory rather than anythin...however, every1 knows in morocco that rare are the women who wear a burqa cuz they firmly believe it. most of them are subjected 2 it....
one more important thing we noticed as moroccans is that most of the salafist people seem to have imported that idea from abroad either by havin lived abroad or havin close family abroad that has come bck......
unfortunately wid morocco livin a demographic, democratic, economic, n social transition n so islamists are part of us jst like any other country in the world. cuz believe me, if it were pre 1999, those pple wud and were jst 2 scared 2 make their voices heard cuz they wud have been dealt wid, but not in the morocco of nowadays where freedom of expression has anchored in peoples minds and so the salafists are allowed 2 express themselves. hence, by wearin the burqas, they announce 2 moroccan society, quite blatanly, that theyre against democracy, against havin a monarchy, n that sharia law shud prevail......
havin lived in morocco my whole life, and as a muslim, i personally cannot relate to a salafist, whether a man or a woman as u become their target because they truly believe theyre the ones that are right..........
shame that this minority of muslims have a louder voice than the majority of moderate muslims....


One point: a burqa is from Afghanistan and Pakistan. What this woman was wearing according to other reports was a niqab. I've visited Morocco many times and never seen a woman wearing a burqa, but plenty of (usually older) women wearing the niqab.

Of course most women in Morocco wear either the hijab or nothing, and which should always be their choice, not their husband's.

Robair Bahou:

When she comes to citizenship, we believe that the more important than what we wear is to respect the country which offer us the citizenship,respect the others citizinship & to obey the rules & system & respect the humanity & the freedomsto others.

Cantankerous Gus:

S. Amar:

Thank you for your explanation. It was very valuable, and it places the French decision in a much different light.

If the burqa is a political statement and not a religious one, then French officials have every right to deem that statement as out-of-step with French cultural and political norms.

No immigrant has a right to citizenship unless he or she conforms to the host nation's rules for citizenship. The rules themselves can be debated, but the principle that sovereign nation and people have the right to control foreign presence in their country is not open to debate.

Confused 101:

1. Were the next woman candidate for French citizenship to wear nothing, would it be OK, it being "somehow a symbol of" no-thought and, possibly, of no Ego?

2. Were a Muslim woman to wear a scaphander instead of the burqa, could she then become a French citizen?

3. Should wearing the outfit of the KKK'S Imperial Wizard be sufficient ground for said Wizard to be deprived of the US nationality?

Just asking.

Abdurrahman Belahcen:

Thanks to Mr. Kleine-Brockhoff for what I consider a very even-handed and well-reasoned article. Two points I might add as a Muslim and Moroccan: Ms Faiza M.'s understanding of her religion is faulty. There is nothing that requires the niqab (complete face-veil) for women other than a confusion between cultural practices that exists in some countries and the real religious law and certainly there is absolutely no reason why she cannot unveil her face before another woman. Her faulty understanding of her religion and her democratic rights indicates that she is being told what to believe rather than studying for herself. That is not a good state for any Muslim-- woman or man --- to be in in these days when certain people already misuse religion so much.
On the other hand, France has already set an unfortunate stage by prohibiting Muslim girls in public schools from coming in simple scarves (and the covering of hair for women is generally agreed upon as part of the religious law by many, many Muslim men and women, just as it is for Orthodox Jews. By not allowing girls to have that simple choice, the French government unfortunately, "raised the bar" and made a piece of cloth, once again, a point of contention.
In short, while I'd agree with this latest decision, I would disagree with the earlier one.



I think, wearing, somehow is a symbol of one's thought.


If this muslim woman is not prepared to assimilate then the right thing to do is to sent her back to Morocco. There are other more deserving immigrants who are willing to assimilate and contribute to the country.


i am from morocco and i honestly have 2 agree wid the french government. the people who belong to the salafist are people who strongly believe that the whole world shud b ruled by sharia law....this wud b an acceptable philosophy if thats wat is it was...unfortunately, those people see non salafist as the enemy and will not think twice b4 killin u for believin in somethin they dont believe in.......whether ur their moroccan neighbor or a foreigner.......
finally, jst 2 point out that that woman did not wear it when she was in morocco. what pple have 2 understand is that in morocco, we preach a secular modern islam, where even burqas for us as a society in general is strange as there are so few of them......ive actually seen more women in burqas in london then in morocco, havin lived in london for the past 6 yrs.........
so yea, islam does not make the woman an inferior which is what this woman is. she shud take responibility for herself, leave her husband, and start a normal life as a strong independent woman then im sure they wont deny her citizenship....

PostGlobal is an interactive conversation on global issues moderated by Newsweek International Editor Fareed Zakaria and David Ignatius of The Washington Post. It is produced jointly by Newsweek and, as is On Faith, a conversation on religion. Please send us your comments, questions and suggestions.