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French Assembly Overwhelmingly Passes Burqa Ban

French Assembly Overwhelmingly Passes Burqa Ban

The burqa has long been a controversial topic in France, but the subject has only gotten more heated since a bill was proposed last May that would prevent Muslim women from covering in public, even sparking acts of violence against veiled women.  Now the Assembly, the lower house of the French Parliament, has overwhelmingly passed the bill, with a 335 to 1 vote.  The bill is expected to pass the Senate in September.

The bill stipulates a 150-euro fine and/or a citizenship course as a punishment for wearing a face-covering veil.  Forcing a woman to wear the niqab would be punishable by a year in prison or a 15,000-euro fine.  The French government called the act “a new form of enslavement that the republic cannot accept on its soil.”  If the bill passes and is signed into law, it will be the first national ban on the burqa in Europe.

The French public overwhelmingly supports the ban, according to a poll conducted by the Pew Global Attitudes Project last spring.  Over 80 percent of the people polled would be in favor of the ban, a margin that was higher than other European countries but still reflective of the general enthusiasm for such a ban.  Two out of three Americans, by contrast, disapproved of it.

Amnesty International was quick to condemn the Assembly’s vote.  “A complete ban on the covering of the face would violate the rights to freedom of expression and religion of those women who wear the burqa or the niqab in public as an expression of their identity or beliefs,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s expert on discrimination in Europe, quoted in a CNN article.  Muslims are about 6 percent of the French population, according to the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, although the French government, in accordance with their laws on secularism and the state, does not keep such statistics.

I personally find the passage of the law to be a fairly blatant attack on a religious minority that happens to stand out among the French population because of their dress.  Certainly, there are circumstances in which women may be forced to wear the burqa, but I don’t think that this is the motivation for the passage of the law – rather, the issue is alarm over perceived infiltration of French secular society.  Indeed, some have pointed out that if men are truly bent on making their wives and daughters veil, this legislation will simply make it harder for women to circulate in society, or even attend school.  And if this bill is signed into law, it will represent a dangerous precedent for the rest of Europe.

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Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

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7:54AM PDT on Sep 18, 2010

If the burka or niqab were the only indications of a society that otherwise considers women as equals, it might be different.

As it is, not educating girls, not allowing grown women to go out in public without a male relative, not allowing women to lead in prayers, polygamy for men while women having non-married sex is a crime, stoning, throwing acid on women's faces, honor killings, women can't choose to divorce-men can, and on and on and on it goes... makes the full veil yet another grand vision of misogyny as the invisible women stumble down the dusty road unable to see peripherally while suffering the heat and lack of oxygen.

Women don't have voices in these fundamentalist Muslim cultures, the burka makes them faceless too.

2:31AM PDT on Aug 13, 2010

And, may I add, if we allow the Burqa because its " their religious right " than we should also allow poligamy, stoning of women, intolerance towards " infidels " ( all those that are not muslims ), extermination of Jews ( only pigs according to Islam ) and hanging gays...I won't count all the other rules and laws that are included in the Quaran..too many and based on the teachings of a pedophile prophet who preached hate and intolerance.
Sure, we christians and jews have similar stuff in our holy texts but we don't pratice them anymore...while the Muslims still do and believe in all this sort of stuff that dates back to the dark ages.
Wake up folks....we are in the year 2010 now...if you wish to pratice your religion of intolerance, if you wish to be above our laws, if you wish to impose such principals on us without out consent...than do us a big favor....Go Home !

10:16PM PDT on Aug 12, 2010

Adrianna,
What you don't seem to realize is that France has laws and that no religion is above the laws of the country.

Our law state that our citizens and guests cannot cover their faces in public. It's got nothing to do with religion, its a public security measure that applies to everyone here.

When we go to muslim countries we respect their laws and when muslims come to our country they must do the same.

Now, the Muslims have made a religious issue and think that their religion can be placed above the laws of the country they reside in...but its not the case here.

By the way, nuns don't cover their faces and although its written in the Quaran and Bible that " women should cover their bodies " nobody ever implied that they should be so completely covered as to hide their faces and identities.

Jesus and Mohammud never required that women should be completely covered in this manner... only men with fears and very twisted ideas could have imposed such a thing as the burqa on women.

8:56PM PDT on Aug 11, 2010

Michael A, the only "imposing" they seem to be doing is practicing their religion within France, not forcing the French citizens to do so. The burka or niqab is an expression of faith as much as someone wearing a cross around their neck or a nun wearing her Habit. Are nuns also considered oppressed as well for covering their bodies? The Bible commands a woman to cover herself just as the Quran does. The Bible states the woman's place should be at home just like the Quran does. Islam gives a woman the right to refuse her husband in bed (for reasons other than her menses) and even divorce him. In Islam men are to take only one wife if they cannot treat more than one justly. And even just the one is to be treated justly! It's certain cultures that have distorted the messages of Islam. It is these cultures that cherry-pick from the Quran and Sunnah while refusing to give up their ignorant ways that give Islam a bad image and leave many with the wrong impression. But it's also disappointing that individuals in the West do not research Islam for themselves but instead rely on the media's interpretation.

11:56PM PDT on Aug 3, 2010

thanks.

10:05PM PDT on Jul 25, 2010

Thanks for sharing.

1:50PM PDT on Jul 23, 2010

Michelle,
Maybe its true what you say " that racism and fear of immigrants were the biggest contributors to this law " but what else can you expect from us when immigrants wish to impose their religion and cultural pratices in our country that is alien to such ideas ?
Should we all sit back and watch the " barbarians " dominate 2000 years of our history and plunge us back to the dark ages of history just to please some liberal concepts of tolerance ( towards people who's religion has no tolerance for anybody else )? ? ? Should we allow these people to continue to treat women as cattle here in OUR countries ?
Nope, sorry, they can do that elsewhere but not here...cause we just won't allow this sort of stuff and no God worthy of that holy name would agree with such pratices.
We have OTHER values here in France...maybe they are not always perfect but OUR women are not sheep, camels or inferiors.
There can be no tolerance for those that express none..and Islam is unworthy of this word.

1:25PM PDT on Jul 23, 2010

While the sorcerer pulls a coin outa yer ear; the scoundrel lifts you wallet .
The liar walks away with the coin and the deceived walks away without a soul. Believing something realy cool has been added to the truth.

11:48AM PDT on Jul 23, 2010

This is sad. You cannot convince me that racism and fear of immigrants were not the biggest contributors to this law.

8:07AM PDT on Jul 23, 2010

Margo,
You'r probably right but women don't count much under Islam. They are just like cattle... to be married, often to older men, when they are little girls, covered under veils or blankets in public, sacrificed by their own families and punished with honor killings or stoning when they don't obey, baby factories to produce islamic warriors, beaten, dominated and considered as inferiors to men...its sad to see that Islam is the only religion now on this planet that continues to live in the dark ages...and women are the victims.

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