Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité But No BurqasSeptember 15, 2010 No Comments
The French Senate has voted 246 to 1, in favour of a law making wearing a burqa illegal. The ban includes all full face veils such as the burqa (mesh cloth covers the face) and niqab (a small opening is made for the eyes). The hijab (headscarf), and other styles of traditional Muslim dress that show the face are still allowed.
It is estimated that 2000 women in France wear the niqab or burqa.
Women caught wearing the veil will face a fine of 150 euros and/or a citizenship course. The punishment for forcing a woman to wear the veil is much steeper, 30,000 euros and/or a year in jail. Once the law comes into effect there will be a six month grace period to educate the public about the new restrictions.
A hundred Senators abstained from the vote, perhaps wishes to avoid the controversy, which has lead to condemnation from some in the international community and complaints about discrimination against Muslims.
“This is not about security or religion, but respecting our republican principles,” French Justice Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said before the vote.
The Constitutional Council has one month in which to decide whether the ban is legal. However, it may face a challenge from the European Court of Human Rights.
Belgium, Spain and Italy are also considering implementing similar laws.