Most of you have probably discussed this when it was voted to ban the full-face veil, last summer. I found it interesting that Americans had a very different perspective than Europeans on this issue. I would love to learn about the opinions of Atheist Universe members, of different parts of the world.
PARIS — A French ban outlawing full-face veils in public, the first to be enacted in Europe, came into force on Monday and faced immediate, if low-key, challenges.
The police detained two fully veiled women at a small protest outside the Notre Dame cathedral in central Paris, where demonstrators were easily outnumbered by police officers and journalists. But it was not clear whether the women had been held under laws forbidding unauthorized demonstrations.
The new law, approved last year, has been controversial from the start, raising questions about France’s relationship with its Muslim minority of five to six million — Western Europe’s largest — at a time when right-wing and anti-immigrant sentiment is on the rise.
Just days ago France‘s governing party pressed ahead with a contentious public debate on the nature of its secularist philosophy and the challenges of Islam. The discussion drew criticism across a broad front including government officials, religious leaders, the Socialist opposition and the far-right National Front.
According to the French authorities, fewer than 2,000 women in France wear the full-face veil, known as a niqab, but the ban has touched nerves, prompting accusations that it stigmatizes one gender among one religious minority in a land that prides itself on the values enshrined in its national motto of liberty, equality and fraternity.
The ban also applies to foreigners visiting France. The law forbids clothing intended to hide the face in public spaces such as streets, markets, private business, government buildings and public transportation. Violators may be punished with a fine of 150 euros, equivalent to $215. But people forcing others to cover their faces are subject to much stiffer punishments, including a maximum 12 months in prison and a fine of 30,000 euros, equivalent to more than $42,000, or twice that amount if the person forced to cover their face is a minor.
News reports said a Muslim property dealer had set aside a fund of some $2.8 million to help women fight the ban while a woman wearing a niqab planned to travel by train from Avignon in southern France to Paris in defiance of the prohibition.
Rachid Nekkaz, the property developer who called for the protest at the cathedral, said in a Webcast quoted by Reuters: “I am calling on all free women who so wish to wear the veil in the street and engage in civil disobedience.”
Police officers have been told by their superiors that they may not forcibly remove veils, but offenders may be taken to police stations to have their identities confirmed.
In some public debate, the niqab has been conflated with the full-body covering called a burqa, which is very rare in France. As debate flared over the law last year, Jean-François Copé, the parliamentary leader of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s party, defended the bill on the grounds of public security and as an important assertion of French identity and values. Mr. Sarkozy himself has said, “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.”
When the law was approved by the lower house of Parliament last year, there was only one opposing vote, cast by Daniel Garrigue, an opponent of President Sarkozy, who said: “To fight an extremist behavior, we risk slipping toward a totalitarian society.”
Though the ban is for reasons other than this, maybe it will actually turn out to be good for those women. Let your pretty faces be seen girls! Breathe some fresh air! Feel a little brazen!
There is a strange phenomenon in the celebrities community in the middle east
*women take off their hijab and wear it again
Some of them were wearing the veil and then they take it off and vice versa!
like Hala Shiha and Mirna El Mohandes from Egypt.
Choosing to wear the veil has nothing to do with the religion itself.
maybe it's fashion or sothing haha :)
I used to be conflicted but I have made up my mind now and I approve of the ban. I think it is never (or almost never) the woman's choice to completely depersonalize herself by these extreme ways of covering their faces and bodies; even n "super-free" America we restrict people's way of dressing, we cannot go to the beach topless like in European beaches, yet nobody is saying that we lose our freedoms.
The niqab or burka send a horrible message o all women and to all little girls, Muslim or not, that we are different, we must cover, there is something intrinsically bad in our faces and bodies, make no mistake. And we are not restricting people's religious freedoms because the majority of Muslim scholars agree full covering is NOT a requirement.
Unfortunately I'm sure some people approve of the ban because they dislike foreign customs, you find those fascists everywhere, but I don't think this is the point here. I'm no fan of Sarkozy but when people I don't like do the right thing, I'm intellectually obliged to myself to be honest and support the measure.
I do not know why this angers Muslims!?
In the end are immigrants, and why they chose to live in France when they are extremists!
Extremism and Liberty can not come together!
I know it will be difficult for those women who are accustomed to wearing niqab..
But they will get used to it... after all they must respect the government decision.
France is a liberal european country and wearing niqab will be ugly there in France!
On the other hand,
In Saudi Arabia even foreign women must wear an abaya outside the home..
Good thing that it's okay for foreign women not cover their hair.
Yes the full body / face burqa should be banned. Women never choose to wear this garment and have no power to change the Male Muslim world. If a country can ban it they should and maybe this will give some power to those women to force change. Who can really tell if it is a man or women behind the vail – this alone makes it a security issue.
Maybe France should TAX those persons who want to hide in this manner in public.
Mimorina (what a beautiful name!), thanks for your answer! There was a page at Amnesty International (who does NOT support the ban) and there was a big contrast between the American commenters on the page, all talking about the "freedom to wear a burka or niqab" and ex-Muslims and also Europeans who pretty much agreed with your comment 100%.
One can't discuss about these things in a vacuum, this is not about an "ideal", it is about people, real people.
About those bad women who do nasty> remember their actions represent themselves only..you know that.
remember also, self-censorship is an art.