The burka ban France implemented a few days ago signals that many European countries cling to the past and resist accepting the reality that they are multicultural societies Islam is a major presence across France and the European continent. Last year Belgium issued its own burka ban and other countries, such as Holland, Spain and Switzerland, look set to follow. While the United Kingdom has no immediate plans to introduce a similar ban, some politicians have suggested one.
With at least five million Muslims, France is home to the largest Muslim population in Western Europe. The hijab and other coverings have been controversial for years, and many Muslims felt marginalised in 2004 when headscarves were banned in classrooms. French President Nicolas Sarkozy set the process to ban the burka in motion nearly two years ago when he declared that veils imprison women and contradict secular values of dignity and equality.