That's what the debate over the wearing of veils my Muslim women seems to indicate. The question that comes to my mind is - what do veils have to do with democracy? As far as security issues are concerned, I am sure that security personnel are not denied their requests for identification. If a woman (of any religion/sect) decides to wear a veil and not show complete or part of her face, how does that affect the rest of the society? We don't impose rules on over-exposing (the tolerance of which is increasing by the day). So, why the fuss over not exposing at all? One must understand that more than a religious sanction, the wearing of a veil may be a personal belief.
Just as we don't prohibit Sikhs from wearing turbans or Hindus from putting tikas on their forehead, we cannot deny a person's right to follow the diktat's of his/her religion. I personally know many young Muslim women who happily accept the tradition of wearing the burqa, as part and parcel of their lives. They don't seem to mind it and they certainly do not consider themselves oppressed! I agree that not every social activity is possible behind the veil and it is a personal choice after all. Yet it is in order to remember that Islam (as indicated in the Holy Qur'an) clearly asks for 'modesty' of every man and women before it mentions any code of conduct.
Rather than indulge in such meaningless debate, the so-called social reformers need to address the real issues facing Muslim women. The veil would be no impediment to providing them proper education, would it?