“Burka Rage” Ensues In Wake Of Proposed French Ban on Veiling

Earlier today, French legislators introduced a draft law that would prevent Muslim women from veiling in public.  In addition to introducing smaller fines for appearing in public in Muslim veils that cover the face, the measure creates a new offense, “inciting to hide the face,” which would heavily fine anyone who forced women to veil (to the tune of just under $20,000) and could even result in jail time.  The bill will go to Parliament in July. 

Nicolas Sarkozy, who has been one of the most outspoken proponents of the bill, claimed that Muslims should not feel “stigmatized” by the bill.  Rather, he said, it simply ensconced French values into law.  “We are an old nation united around a certain idea of human dignity, and in particular of a woman’s dignity, around a certain idea of how to live together,” Sarkozy explained.  “The full veil that hides the face completely harms those values, which are so fundamental to us, so essential to the republican compact.”

Veiling has been a hot-button issue in France for some time; as the European country with the largest Muslim population, methods of integration have revolved around the extent to which immigrants must physically blend in.  Some question whether the legislation is even constitutional, while organizations like Amnesty International protested that such a law would violate women’s freedom of rights and expression.  Whether the ban would protect Muslim women is uncertain – some point out that it might open the floodgates for more intensified racism.

Six women met with reporters yesterday to talk about the ban, and expressed their extreme disapproval.  One woman said, “They are giving people the right to attack us”; another pointed out that their “sisters,” other women who veil themselves, would hide out in their homes so as not to be caught breaking the law.  She added that she would take her case to the European Court of Human Rights, if arrested.

The threat of physical violence seemed to be realized, also, by a violent attack against a veiled woman in a clothing store.  The police refer to these incidents as “burka rage.”  A physical altercation occurred when a 26-year-old Muslim convert overheard an older woman making “snide remarks” about her burka; according to the Daily Mail, “the lawyer said she was not  happy seeing a fellow shopper wearing a veil and wanted the ban introduced as soon as possible.”  The older woman then allegedly ripped the veil off, before the younger woman punched her.

I worry that incidents like this are too easily portrayed as catfights, when the reality is much more complicated.  I certainly agree that the burka ban would violate religious expression in an extremely dangerous manner, and I hope that women would continue to assert their right to wear the burka.  The issue of whether the men in women’s lives (husbands and fathers primarily) are forcing them to veil is more complex, and ultimately not answered by a simple ban.  Instead, the ban uses a faux concern for women’s rights to prop up what is ultimately a racist piece of legislation.  I hope that more women stand up for their rights, and that discussion of the proposed ban doesn’t shy away from dealing with these complicated issues.

Photo from Flickr.


bob m.
bob m6 years ago

As to dogs and leashes; I demure.
The depths of the gom Gibor I would not enter into;
at this late hour.
No; I mererly touched the hem of sorceries and a sore rebuttal sails forth.
I do not recant though ; my perception stands.
Mine eyes have seen the Glory of the coming of this Lord; grapes of wrath restored,
And my justification completely, sufficiently founded;
On this ONE and only God...selah.

patrica and edw jones

It's probably a good garment to wear if you are suffering from a bad cold or cough......but its uses are very very limited.

patrica and edw jones

Travelling abroad recently my sister - who lives in the UK - was amazed to see a group of 6 Muslim women - who boarded the aircraft dressed in the burqa - take it off after the plane left the ground. Several people applauded them.

patrica and edw jones


Sharon Balloch
Sharon Balloch6 years ago

As a Christian I care nothing for the politics of this burka thing, But this I do know.. terrorist wear burkas to be able to bomb and kill innocent Muslims. Children lay dead in the streets because the burka is an excellent disguise. For me, I am a modest woman, but I would rather walk naked in the street than to be the cause of some other mother having to see her child torn to pieces by a bomb. I do not understand women who do not feel this way.

monica r.
monica r7 years ago

@Shannon S
"Mohammed's feminism. Well-backed by historical evidence and verses from the Koran"

What are you smoking?????

One of my favorite of Mohammed's hadiths states that a woman's paradise is under her husband's heel. Clearly a feminist.

Colleen Maranda
Colleen B7 years ago

bob m. -- You're offering a Christian antidote for the rage that you so dramatically and one-sidedly describe is, "hidden deep in the darkness under these veils, inside of these hearts".

Alas, the article's describing a two-sided battle that was instigated - first verbally and then physically - not by the one you are targeting for rescue.

Oops; it's the other one, who should arguably be kept on a leash.

Karen C.
Karen C7 years ago

I'm not sure how to react. I don't want women to be forced to wear something but if this is part of their religion then the only reason for them not to wear it should be public safety.

bob m.
bob m7 years ago

Burka rage? Rage.
Perhaps an appropriate question would be.
" what is this "RAGE"
and why?
Lift the veil and there is a piercing rage. Why? what?
What is the antidote for this rage hidden deep in the darkness ;
under these veils, inside of these hearts.
Only love I believe; Gods' love in Christ Jesus.
One pierced for us.

Lotus Fletcher
Nilu S7 years ago

There are a lot of problems with legislation like this. They aren't really protecting women at all. If a woman is being forced by male family members to wear a burka, she will likely now only be forced to stay at home by those same family members if she cannot cover herself in public. This will only make things worse for Muslim women in France on a number of levels.