France's controversial ban on clothing that covers the face — aimed at the burqa and niqabs worn by some Muslim women — took effect Monday, sparking protests around Paris. French police arrested at least two veiled women, purportedly for protesting without a permit, not for violating the public burqa ban. But as France is leading the charge to overthrow repressive Arab and African despots, should it really be arresting Muslim women peacefully protesting for religious freedoms?

France's attack on Muslim values is "hypocritical": The French loudly "proclaim liberté, égalité, fraternité as their most fundamental values," says Mohammed Khan in Al Jazeera. Well, "where is the liberté at home?" French President Nicolas Sarkozy is crazy if he thinks his "diversionary tactics in pretending to back human rights in Libya" will make the Arab world overlook the obvious "hypocrisy and bigotry toward Muslims" in his freedom-quashing burqa ban at home.
"Unveiling French hypocrisy"

The ban may not be p.c., but it is necessary: To critics, this law smacks of "rank hypocrisy," but it's "a regrettable necessity," says Tony Metcalf in Metro. There's "zero requirement" in the Koran for women to cover their faces, so the prevalence of burqas and niqabs in "proudly secular" France "can only be construed as a deliberate affront" to "basic tenets of civil life" there. Surely France has the "legal and moral right" to protect itself from "a display of cultural 'otherness'" that borders on "aggression."
"The burqa ban — a regrettable necessity"

This is mostly just an assault on fashion: Yes, the burqa ban is "an outrageous attack on freedom of religion," says Brendan O'Neill in The Telegraph, but also one that totally misses the point. Most of the 2,000 French Muslim women who cover their faces aren't doing it because of religion; they're doing it out of a "mainstream narcissistic politics of identity." They want to stand out as outsiders, just like goths, punks, or even young conservatives. France might as well ban "elbow patches."
"Chill out – veiled women are only the Islamic equivalent of Young Fogeys"