France Bans Niqab, Violence Against Muslim Women Rises


In April, France introduced a law against covering your face in public. The law means that Muslim women who wear the niqab, a full-face veil, are essentially banned from any kind of public activity, from riding the bus to walking in the street with their children to sitting in a café. [The photo above was taken in Oxford, England, where the niqab is not banned.] What’s more, the law has resulted in an increase in verbal and physical violence against women wearing the niqab. Women report that strangers have tried to pull their veils off, bus drivers have refused to let them board and shop owners have sought to bar them from entering stores. Some have been physically assaulted, mostly by middle-aged or older people, even in front of their children.

The rationale of French politicians who approved the ban was that the law would protect “gender equality” and women’s dignity. In 2004, France banned all religious symbols, including the headscarf, in schools. Heated debate preceded the passing of the law. 32-year-old Kenza Drider, a mother of three, spoke out on television against the law before it was enforced and now lives in fear of physical attack:

“I still go out in my car, on foot, to the shops, to collect my kids. I’m insulted about three to four times a day,” she says. Most say, “Go home”; some say, “We’ll kill you.” One said: “We’ll do to you what we did to the Jews.” In the worst attack, before the law came in, a man tried to run her down in his car.

“I feel that I now know what Jewish women went through before the Nazi roundups in France. When they went out in the street they were identified, singled out, they were vilified. Now that’s happening to us.”

The law has led some people to think they now have license to censure Muslim women. But under the law, only the French police can confront a woman in niqab:

They can’t remove her veil but must refer the case to a local judge, who can hand out a 150 euro (£130) [about $203] fine, a citizenship course, or both. Some police have wrongly given on-the-spot fines, which were later annulled. Others appear to ignore women in niqab walking down the street, perhaps because they feel they have more important crimes to be stopping. The interior ministry says that since the law came into force in April there have been 91 incidents of women in niqab being stopped by police outside Paris and nine incidents in the Paris region. Each time, police file a report, but so far no judge has handed out a fine or citizenship course.

So far, French authorities say that fewer than ten cases are going through the courts. Hind Ahmas and another woman are both appearing in court on Thursday for wearing the niqab in public outside Meaux town hall in eastern Paris in May.

But Gilles Devers, a lawyer representing Ahmas and a number of women who wear the niqab, argues that the law’s punishments are not actually being carried out because, under European human rights legislation on personal liberties and freedom, the law is illegal. If a fine is actually imposed, the law could be challenged under the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg which could “rule against the law and expose the French state as a laughing stock.”

A number of other European countries have instituted niqab bans:  Belgian’s law was passed last summer and carries a fine and seven days in prison. Italy’s far-right Northern League has brought back a 1975 law against face coverings in the north. There is legislation afoot in Denmark to limit the wearing of niqabs and Austria, the Netherlands and Switzerland all want outright bans.

French president Nicholas Sarkozy was accused of stigmatizing women in the niqab to win votes away from the extreme right National Front, but the law has not led to a rise in his poll ratings.

UPDATE, 8:20 AM EST: Hind and the other woman, who did not wish to be named, have received fines of 120 euros and 80 euros ($161.00 and $108.00), respectively; both plan immediately to appeal to France’s supreme court and to the European court of human rights, if necessary.

Related Care2 Coverage

Italy Approves Draft Bill to Ban Burqas

Belgium Bans Burqas Starting Next Week

Australian Women Who Don’t Show Their Face to Police Could Be Jailed

Photo taken in Oxford, England, where the niqab is not banned by kamshots


Sandra L.
Sandra Lewis6 years ago

If I see ONE MORE bit of CRAP about this NONSENSE over hijabs and niqab's and muslim extremism, I'm leaving.

Sandra L.
Sandra Lewis6 years ago

Niqab's are shameful. Those whose countenance is so shameful that they must wear one should simply stay in purdah where they belong. I DONT LIVE IN PURDAH!!! So I shouldn't have to look at such a SHAMEFUL garment on such a SHAMEFUL person. They know they shouldn't even be out in public, according to their own misguided beliefs, so they are already in the wrong. The niqab is offensive and should be banned. I'm a Native American and I find nothing religious or spiritual about it. It is an evil curse upon women, and women who wear it in public are knowingly spreading this evil.

Beth S.
Beth S7 years ago

No, it's when you start walking around with your jacket still covering on your face that you'll get in trouble.....

Jose Ramon Fisher Rodrigu

What if I sit down on a park bench in Strasbourg and put my jacket over my face because I want to take a nap? Did I just break the law? And by the way, I'm a Christian man.
I am not comfortable with the concepts of the niqab and burqa but the ban and this article both make me very uneasy as well. It just makes me want to scream "ARRETEZ LA HAINE", which is French for "STOP THE HATE."

bob m.
bob m7 years ago

hey were identified , singled out......villified...well well....what goes around , comes around eh?... Hiding behind the tree where the Jew hides ...hmmmm
Say...where did I hear that one before.....hmmmm!

Lydia S.
Lydia S7 years ago

@ Scott (1 of 3)
You know Scott, your "points" are always so pointless, they are beyond ludicrous! Excuses, excuses ... Globalist "agenda" ... "Authenticity of the mass media"! So, all the photos, videos, reports of child brides, women covered with hideous burns, noses/ears cut off, disfigured with acid -- all are made up by "globalists"! All to make islam "look bad"!

True, No "Law" is to blame if people choose to ignore it. But, what if people choose to follow "Sharia Law", which calls for barbaric punishments, which are totally unacceptable in the 21st century?

What if people choose to follow the VIOLENT passages of the koran? What if the message "Kill the infidel" is chosen, over "there is no compulsion in religion" -- WHICH IS PRECISELY WHAT IS HAPPENING ALL OVER THE MUSLIM WORLD! Christians in Egypt are being persecuted, targeted for violence. Christians in Iraq are fleeing. Buddhists in Thailand are being beheaded, gunned down!

What if passages calling on muslims to HATE & KILL JEWS incite violence & lead to death & destruction? What if passages calling for death to "idolaters" leads muslims to kill Hindus in India because they worship multiple gods, or Buddhists in Thailand, because they do not pray to allah? What if gays are murdered for being gay?

WHO IS TO BLAME THEN? What part of islamist intolerance do you not understand?

Lydia S.
Lydia S7 years ago

@ Scott (2 of 3)
You ask: "Is your Christianity to blame in America whenever someone kills? Are these murders, of which you speak, committed in "the name of Jesus"? If a "Christian" sect started preaching to kill all muslims, jews, hindus, etc., & the followers started doing this -- Who would YOU blame?


This is NOT about "Americans being evil" -- This is about an IDEOLOGY WHICH TEACHES INTOLERANCE, CRUELTY, VIOLENCE, etc., all of which ARE evil!

I do NOT advocate violence against ANYONE! I do NOT hate muslims -- I hate islam, which calls on muslims to commit atrocities in the name of allah – hence frenzied cries of "allahu akhbar" during some of the worst violence.

Did you happen to see the footage of "freedom fighters" aka "mujahideen" killing M. Qaddafi while shouting "allahu akhbar"! WHEN WILL YOU ADMIT THE MUSLIM ON MUSLIM VIOLENCE -- all to shouts of "allahu akhbar"?

When will you stop making excuses for the cruelty perpetrated against the peaceful Ahmadiyya muslims, who are daily confronted with death threats from other "muslims" accusing them of "blasphemy, apostosay, heresy", etc.?

Lydia S.
Lydia S7 years ago

@ Scott (3 of 3)
You accuse me of my "poisonous rhetoric" "hurting women". HORSEPUCKY! Nothing I have written has caused ANY woman to get "hurt" ... why don't you look in the mirror!?

What YOU defend IS CAUSING FAR MORE HURT, DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, CRUELTY than anything I have ever written!

You ask: "What else can a religion do to prevent people from misbehaving"?

FOR STARTERS, IT CAN STOP MISBEHAVING ITSELF! It can LEAD BY EXAMPLE .. Not BE the ATROCITY & MISBEHAVIOR! Until islam corrects itself, I will continue to speak out!

I speak for the voiceless muslima, who is beaten by her husband!

I cry out for the tiny infant/little girl, whose genitals are sliced off -- without anesthesia; with unsterilized broken glass, tin can lids, used razors, etc., "stitched up" with thorns, legs wrapped together for several weeks while she "heals" -- IF she even survives the initial trauma!

I speak for the little girl, forced to marry an elderly pedophile, or a corrupt cousin -- to be raped & abused -- and her only escape is suicide, often by self immolation!


When you spout off your LIES about the "glorious" koran, the "perfection" of islam -- I confront your lies! To remain silent is to be COMPLICIT in the violence perpetrated in the name of islam! I SHALL NOT BE SILENT!

Scott Freewheeler

I very much doubt the authenticity of the mass media these days; they have exposed themselves as liars and promoters of globalist agendas; not surprisingly because they are all owned by the same globalists.

There are no 'loopholes' in the Holy Quran. If people decide to ignore the good and embrace evil they will be punished. None will escape the Hellfire.

Is your American secular law to blame for murders in your country because murderers choose to ignore it?

What else can a religion do to prevent people from misbehaving? We have instructions on how to protect oneself against evil, we have reasons for those instructions and we have punishments for those who break God's commandments.

What more can do you expect of any religion? Is your Christianity to blame in America whenever someone kills?

Do you think I could not find a dozen stories of Americans being evil? I know if I posted crimes perpetrated by only a certain race of people I would look like a racist. I see no difference in what you are doing Lydia.

Why do you seek to degrade Muslims in this way? Can you not see that your poisonous rhetoric is leading to women getting hurt? That is the subject of this thread.

Lydia S.
Lydia S7 years ago

Sandra T wrote: "These laws strictly specify that the bride to be must me mature physically, but also emotionally and mentally, hence Islam invalidates any marriage that takes place without the consent of BOTH the bride and groom."

The laws are meaningless if loopholes & coercion by the family force the girl to get married. If the girl objects, she may become a victim of "honor killing", so again, the "law" is pointless!

"Forced marriages are illegal under every circumstance." ... Hmmm? Right, LOL !