The actual subject of Michael Gerson’s column, quoted above, is the vogue in a number of European countries to ban the burqa, the Islamic garb that swaths women so that their bodies cannot be seen. After criticizing the practice, Gerson criticizes the atempts to outlaw it:
The motives of European leaders in this controversy are less sympathetic. Some speak deceptively (and absurdly) of a security motive for banning Islamic covering. Who knows what they are hiding? But by this standard, the war on terrorism would mandate the wearing of bikinis. The real purpose of burqa bans is to assert European cultural identity — secular, liberal and individualistic — at the expense of a visible, traditional religious minority. A nation such as France, proudly relativistic on most issues, is convinced of its cultural superiority when it comes to sexual freedom. A country of topless beaches considers a ban on excessive modesty. The capital of the fashion world, where women are often overexposed and objectified, lectures others on the dignity of women.
If the freedom of religion is an important principle for us Christians, we need to defend the freedom of religion for non-Christians as well. Don’t we? Do you see how this is different from outlawing widow burning?