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Protesters Arrested As France Enforces Veiling Ban

Protesters Arrested As France Enforces Veiling Ban

After a long process of approval that began last summer when the French Assembly overwhelmingly passed a bill banning the burqa, niqab and other full-body robes worn by Muslim women, the French ban on these garments went into effect, and immediately sparked protests.  The police detained two fully veiled women outside Notre Dame in Paris, although they claimed that the women were arrested not because they were veiled, but because they were engaging in an unauthorized protest.

The ban, which will affect approximately 2,000 of France’s 5 million Muslims, targets a very small population but has nevertheless been extremely controversial.  Anyone who is caught breaking the law will be fined and required to take a citizenship course; the penalties are much higher for people found to force women to wear the veil, including prison sentences and heavier fines.  The ban also applies to people visiting France.

The politicians who supported the ban said that it was an important move to preserve the sanctity of French values and identity.  French President Nicolas Sarkozy explained during the debates, “The burqa is not welcome in France because it is contrary to our values and contrary to the ideals we have of a woman’s dignity.”

Others have said that this is an act of discrimination against a rapidly growing minority population.  A French Muslim property developer, Rachid Nekkaz, says that he is beginning a fund to pay veiled women’s fines.  As the ban went into effect, he called “all free women who so wish to wear the veil in the street and engage in civil disobedience.”  He and a veiled woman were arrested in front of President Sarkozy’s residence.

Because the ban affects so few women, it’s hard not to see it as a blatant political message, attacking the women who choose to visibly express Muslim piety, rather than protecting them.  Although it’s a knotty issue, and coercion can certainly play into it, it’s remarkable to see how conservative politicians, who rarely have a great amount of concern for women’s rights, have jumped to the “defense” of veiled Muslim women with this ban.

 

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Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

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174 comments

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7:21PM PDT on Jul 18, 2011

France did the right thing, I agree with it. I am also catholic and I have never seen the V Mary veiled, never. We are not talking head scarfs here, we are talking about being masked, identity unknown. This type of dress is only religion or culture by the extremists. We have a muslin group of women who want this dress banned and are working towards that. I know there has been many cases of thief associated with this dress and this group of muslim women say that as well but I have seen it myself on two occassions. In our own countries young children seeing people dressed like that is quite scary so why should we have to feel uncomfortable with that type of dress. It is like wearing a sheet over your head, face and whole body only it is black. It is dangerous in many ways and it is demeaning to all woman. It is not only the dress but what it represents, these woman are on an leash, they can not live a free life and we don't want that in our countries and we have every right to expect that. These extremists also practice stoning, honor killings, wife beating and keep these woman prisoners. Couldn't agree with France's new law more and I hope all western countries do the same.

5:05PM PDT on Jul 18, 2011

This is a double- edge sword; on one hand the veils are part of their religious beliefs and cultural. Its being modest, however, some people see Veiling as demeaning towards women. Its really a personal choice. I am Catholic and wear a Jesus cross - necklace in public so I wonder? will banning crosses be next?

11:12AM PDT on May 26, 2011

Christians, Jews and Catholics on this thread must ask yourselves how the Virgin Mary (alayhi s-salâm) is portrayed in your statues.

Ask yourselves what you think her purpose was; only to be revered? Or to be emulated as a role model? Why revere Mary (alayhi s-salâm) and then not act as she did?

Have you seen the film about Moses (alayhi s-salâm)? Did you hate to see that his mother was wearing hijab? All these religious films have women wearing hijab. Why then does this offend you?

Our best example is our Holy Prophet (ṣall Allahu ʿalayhi wa-’âlih) and his Ahl al-Bayt. All the Holy Prophets have led perfect lives (peace and blessings be upon them and their families.)

Do the modern women here believe that the more advanced we become the less clothes we should wear? Where will you draw the line? What changed since those times? Just because some have forgotten their religion doesn’t mean everyone has to forget theirs.

If you reject hijab it’s no problem. This is your right. Your rejection of God’s law does not disturb me. God gave you the freewill and no compulsion is from Islam. Just don’t tell me it is not a commandant in my religion.

What disturbs me greatly is that my sisters are being denied the right to emulate their perfect role models. It is essential that we dress as Muslims. We must be recognised for what we are. I am proud of my Lord (SWT) and my religion which is my path to

12:34PM PDT on Apr 29, 2011

Scott Freewheeler, Apr 19, 2011 7:25 PM
"The Mighty Prophet Muhammad (ṣall Allahu ʿalayhi wa-’âlih) is the Messenger of Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) and led a perfect life worthy of emulation. Everything that he and his family did was upright and our love for him and his family must be our guiding light in all matters."

Muhammed was a pedophile. He raped a nine year old girl. Anyone claiming he was perfect are a pedohile protector and deserves no respect.
Forcing a woman to wear a niqab, burkha or any other clothing that covers her body are nothing more than patriarchy. Ban all religions since they only exist to discriminate and imprison women and children!
I hate to see women covered head to foot walk about and demand their rights and compensation, when my rights not to be confronted with a walking tent is trampled on. I claim the right to live in a country based on respect, not oppression of the majority. Go for it France, I'm behind you on this!

7:25PM PDT on Apr 19, 2011

To force these Muslimah to undress against their free will and their religious ideas is nothing short of Satanic.

Forcing a woman who is used to veiling to remove it is far worse than forcing an atheist to go topless for it is the command of God that a Muslimah should be modest whereas an atheist has no such command. Both would feel horrifically exposed and violated.

As for those who say the niqab is not Islamic you are wrong. The Holy Quran is the centre of Islam. The Mighty Prophet Muhammad (ṣall Allahu ʿalayhi wa-’âlih) is the Messenger of Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) and led a perfect life worthy of emulation. Everything that he and his family did was upright and our love for him and his family must be our guiding light in all matters.

Every one of his wives is reported to have worn veils. The hijab is of course acceptable as well and even not covering the hair is acceptable to a great many Muslims provided they are modestly dressed and behave modestly. But those who wish to wear full veils are more than justified in doing so according to the perfect example of the family of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon them all).

The hijab and niqab not only covers the hair but also helps to further cover the chest and breast shape thus concealing the sexuality of a Muslimah while keeping her femininity intact.

7:17PM PDT on Apr 19, 2011

The ban is yet another attack on Muslims... period. Today it's the ban on veil/niqab and burqas; tomorrow it will be simple head scarves and jilbabs/abayas (best described as loose fitting, long dresses). Covering ones body and face is the most comforting of feelings. Although I don't personally wear niqab, I have tried it and found it to be a wonderful experience. Here in the US, I've seen some of my sisters even drive while wearing them and do it well; in fact far better than some women letting their hair fly all over the place while worrying about their make-up.

I think I need to make a trip to France in full covering.

7:09PM PDT on Apr 19, 2011

I believe in freedom of expression for all. God is the only One who should be doing the judging.

If that wasn’t enough to convince you all, which it should be, then accept that God commanded us to cover our bodies in all Abrahamic faiths. It is the decent thing to do.

We all have a built in wish to be ‘decent’, it is perfectly natural. Our decency is imprinted on all our hearts. We all know that to expose our bodies is wrong. In extremes there is even a law against ‘indecent exposure’.

What right has any group of men to lay claim to the soil our home is sat upon and then decide that we are wearing too many clothes? It is so preposterous and evil I would never have believed it! Yet here it is.

For a Muslim woman to be forced to undress is a sick and dreadful crime. A Muslimah will feel exposed in a similar way that western women would if the parts of their bodies that they like to keep solely for their husbands were on show for all.

Many have veiled since they were children. It is their tradition, culture, religion and their personal right to veil. If others feel it is a not a good idea, then have your say, let’s talk to each other; forcing is not a loving way to deal with anything.

You should all be horrified by this because leaders that are capable of such inhumanity will not stop at oppressing religious people. You lot will be next on their list if they get away with this oppression.

6:34PM PDT on Apr 19, 2011

Actually all those the Muslim "beesuits" have nothing to do with Religion, they are 100% cultural. Cultural to the oppression of men upon women. They have become generational comforting to the elder Muslim females. Most younger Muslim females are rebelling. The law is only for out in public, in the privacy of Their homes the Muslim women can wear what ever they want, or what ever their family forces them to wear.
From the French perspective, the "beesuits" allow Tali ban & insurgents to move about freely because they look like a group of women instead of the terrorist they are. The terrorists have been disguising themselves that way for decades, in Irac, Pakistan, & Afghanistan. It is still virtually impossible for the armed forces to tell who is a terrorist & who is a woman. So the Tali ban still move freely throughout the daytime streets of... everywhere. So I do understand the French making a law that protects all the people moving about the streets of France.

2:46PM PDT on Apr 18, 2011

Those poor women are probably all vitamin D deficient too. The skin needs sunlight.

2:46PM PDT on Apr 18, 2011

I doubt it is an "attack on women". If France feels that the oppression of women is not part of their values and don't want it in their country, then so be it.

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