Burqa debate

Almost half of people questioned oppose the Burqa

Almost 50 percent of people believe that the burqa is degrading to women, an online poll has revealed.

The survey by Arabian Business found that 49.5 percent of respondents thought the burqa deprived women of an identity.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy re-ignited the debate over the Islamic veil last week after saying “the burqa will not be welcome in our French republic.”

“The problem of the burqa is not a religious problem, it is a problem of the dignity of women. It is a symbol of subservience, of submission," he said.

His controversial comments drew worldwide coverage and criticism. The story on Arabian Business alone received more than 150 reader posts, making it the most commented on in the website’s history.

The online poll found that 29.3 percent of people disagreed with Sarkozy on the grounds that governments can not dictate what people can and cannot wear.

Some 12.7 percent of people raised the issue of other religious dress, like nun’s habits, asking if Sarkozy would also ban those.

While just 8.5 percent thought it was a publicity stunt to deflect attention from other announcements, like France’s budget deficit, which will exceed 7 percent of its GDP in both 2009 and 2010.

Sarkozy’s popularity rose 3 percentage points from last month to 41 percent in February, an Ifop-Journal du Dimanche opinion poll showed on Sunday.

The approval rating of Prime Minister Francois Fillon was unchanged at 50 percent, the newspaper added.

Ifop, a Paris-based polling company, surveyed 1,880 people by telephone between June 18 and June 26. It didn’t provide a margin of error. Sarkozy’s approval rating fell as low as 35 percent in Ifop’s May 2008 poll.

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