A veil-clad woman
Photograph by: Khaled Abdullah, REUTERS
As of April 11, women will no longer be able to wear the traditional burqa or the niqab in France. However, according to the Interior Ministry, the law “does not target the wearing of a headscarf, headgear, scarf or glasses, as long as the accessories do not prevent the person from being identified.”
Approximately 60 women have already been arrested for protesting and/or ignoring the new law. Kenza Drider, age 32, was the first woman arrested for wearing a burqa in France. Drider said, “This law infringes my European rights, I cannot but defend them that is to say my freedom to come and go and my religious freedom."
Women who break the law will have to pay a fine of €150 and/or participate in community service. If family members or friends force women to wear a burqa or niqab outside a place of worship, the enforcer can be fined up to a year in prison and €30,000. The fines and prison time are double if the woman is a minor.
Is the law unconstitutional? The law does not prohibit wearing a burqa or niqab in places of worship, therefore the French Constitutional Council believes this law does not prevent the free exercise of religion.
Is the law anti-Islamic? The law, which is officially called "a bill to forbid concealing one’s face in public," was passed for security and identification reasons.
Is the law a symbol of enslavement? Nicholas Sarkozy, president of France, told French lawmakers last year that the Burqa is a “sign of enslavement” and it "will not be welcome in the French Republic."
To learn more about the arrests, please read "Burqa Ban Yields 60 Arrests Early Monday in France."
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