A Massachusetts college that drew flak for banning face coverings, including the veils worn by some Muslim women, has amended its policy to allow a religious exemption. “We will achieve our objective of campus security while allowing for a medical and/or religious accommodation,’’ the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences said yesterday. A day earlier, a Muslim civil liberties group asked the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to investigate whether it was illegal for the college to ban face coverings, under federal law that bans employment discrimination.
So, as France debates whether to have a law against the burqa (as Jean-François Copé wants) or merely a resolution deploring it (as Xavier Bertrand has proposed), in the US Muslims are challenging bans on head coverings as illegal. Incidentally, the Copé-Bertrand skirmish should be seen as one more episode in the preparation for the après-Sarkozy. By 2017 there will be probably be more votes to be gained by courting the Muslim bloc than by chasing the FN rump, or so Bertrand seems to be calculating. Of course he could be wrong, but I wager that he isn't.