The Politics of Women's Head Coverings

JEAN-PHILIPPE KSIAZEK /AFP / Getty

Narrow view Sarkozy says that France cannot 'welcome' face veils

In modern politics, there are few trustier weapons than Muslim women's clothes. The Saudis and the mullahs in Iran have used them for decades, passing laws on women's head coverings to underscore male rulers' piety and power. George W. Bush knew the symbolic potency of the veil, too, citing the discrimination of American 'women of cover' during post 9/11 tensions. Now two Presidents, Nicolas Sarkozy and Barack Obama, have taken up the veil, framing it as a topic in radically different ways. Sarkozy used Muslim dress as a nationalistic prop, seeing it as a threat to France's eternal values. Obama used...

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