I read the above article this morning and was instantly flustered, frustrated and angered. This is a sophisticated and complex issue and I do not pretend to have the answers. I do however, have opinions on the subject.
I think that nationality cannot be denied to someone because of a piece of cloth. For a laic state, the burqa can be nothing more than a piece of cloth - as religion does not play a role in the French state. Where religion does not play a role - it should have no INFLUENCE.
The main problem with the burqa I think is that you can see it - from far, far away. What does the French state truly not want to see - women in a state of submission to their husbands or the ever changing demographical makeup of the French society? What "French, republican" values does the burqa truly go against? If it has to ro with religion I think that this is unfair and religion plays no part in this laic state - therefore should have no bearing on nationality. The decision makers only knew of this women's religious stance because they could SEE the burqa - they are not allowed, legally, to ask. So if they legally cannot "know" - how can this play a role in the ruling?
I see that the issue is more complicated than that - if someone's rights are being violated or subjugated - shouldnt the state protect an individual's rights? Wouldnt it do that for a child? Yes - but this is not a child, this is a full-grown woman. Is she being then treated like a child or someone who cant or isnt autonomous?
The greatest problem I see is that in the fight for equality and women's rights - we are still telling women what to do instead of allowing them to make their own choices. Do they have those proper vehicles to make those choices? That is a different question alltogether. By denying this women French citizenship because she wears a burqa and is therefore deemed subservient to her husband - do we empower her? Do we treat her equally? No, we dont.
I remember flying back to NY from Paris one time and being sat next to a man of the muslim faith - he and I chatted most of the flight and discussed islam and different cultures. He asked me to think about one point - in western culture, the hijab and the burqa and often seen as "shocking" as a "shocking way to treat women" - but he asked me to think about how it must feel for someone who comes to the "west" for the first time and either on a kiosk on the street or in a magazine store sees, openly, pictures of naked women, of women in subservient sexual positions out in the open. Isnt this too shocking? How do we describe this treatment of women? It is not to say that either is right, or better - but we cant forget that our norms and ideas are not relevant or even "normal" somewhere else.