Last week, the French law banning the burka officially entered the statute books.
Obviously, in a politically correct nation, especially one with a large Muslim population, you can't actually call it a law banning the burka, so in fact the law states that you are not allowed, in a public place, to wear any kind of clothing designed to conceal your face. Presumably, Paris carnival will be cancelled next year. And Hallowe'en (but that was an American fad that went out of date a few years ago, and anti-Americanism is pretty rife in France too, so surely nobody will be that upset).
I find this law worrying. I have never felt the urge to cover my face for any reason other than that the weather is cold (Does the law also apply during Alpine blizzards? Or is one allowed to “hide” one's face from the elements?), and I can see that there are circumstances where wearing a veil could be problematic, but the idea that the government has the power to stop me doing so troubles me deeply. This law will do nothing to make France a better place. It will do nothing to tackle the problems posed by certain types of radical Islam. It is taking away people's freedom to dress as they like not to solve a real-life problem but to pander to some people's blinkered vision of what the country “should” be.
In the meantime, in the recent local elections, several Front National candidates were able to gain a significant proportion of the votes in their area despite the fact that the electoral campaign posters showed only the face of Marine Le Pen and not their own. One stood under her maiden name so that she would not be recognised in the community. Apparently far-right voters are not too concerned who represents them in government as long as the politics are prejudiced enough and the party leader is blonde and fair-skinned.
La République se vit à visage découvert? Perhaps not.