It was perverse, she said to me, that she should be free to cover her head in an American university but not in a Turkish one. It seemed perverse to me as well. It would to any American; politically, we all descend from men and women persecuted for their faith. I was, I decided, on the side of these women.
But that was when I could still visit the neighborhood of Balat without being called a whore. (…)
Let’s be perfectly frank. These bans are outrages against religious freedom and freedom of expression. They stigmatize Muslims. No modern state should be in the business of dictating what women should wear. (…)
All true. And yet the burqa must be banned. All forms of veiling must be, if not banned, strongly discouraged and stigmatized. The arguments against a ban are coherent and principled. They are also shallow and insufficient. They fail to take something crucial into account, and that thing is this:
If Europe does not stand up now against veiling — and the conception of women and their place in society that it represents — within a generation there will be many cities in Europe where no unveiled woman will walk comfortably or safely.