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Has President Sarkozy's vote-grabbing stance on Islam been a political failure? Photo: Steve Evans

Today, for the first time in French history, it will be illegal to wear the burqa, or full-length Islamic veil, in public. Predictably, as an Englishwoman I have mixed feelings about this law. On the one hand I agree with Sarkozy’s former minister, Fadela Amara, who, like the majority of her fellow French Muslims, objects to the burqa as a symbol of religious extremism and patriarchal oppression. On the other, I believe that…

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