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Monday
Apr112011

In France Burqa Ban Takes Effect with Small Protests

Kenza Drider (brown niqab) lives in Avignon and Nayet (black burqa) after their release by French authorities

Beyond the Veil| The burqa ban went into effect today in France, and immediately two women were arrested near the Cathedral of Notre Dame — not for wearing prohibited garments —  but for an unauthorized protest.

‘One woman who disapproves of the ban said no one forces her to wear the niqab, a full-face veil with an opening for her eyes, and she should be left alone’, writes CNN, who is also the source of these images explaining what is permitted and what is not under the new law.

The law is written strictly forbidding face coverings. The words ‘women’, ‘Muslim’ and ‘veil’ are not mentioned.

Penalties for forcing a person to wear a burqa are also punishable under the new law. If the person is not a minor, the sentence is a year in prison and a 30,000 euro fine (about $43,000). In the case of a minor, the punishment is doubled.

“Given the damage it (wearing the forbidden clothing) produces on those rules which allow the life in community, ensure the dignity of the person and equality between sexes, this practice, even if it is voluntary, cannot be tolerated in any public place,” the French government said when it sent the measure to parliament in May of last year.

Activist Rachid Nekkaz of the group Hands Off My Constitution has auctioned one of his homes to pay the fines for any woman arrested over the clothing ban.

“I would like to send a clear message to President Nicolas Sarkozy that we can do what we want. We have rules. We have a constitution and everyone has to respect it,” he said.

France’s highest court did review the ban before it went into effect and found it constitutional. Educated scholars agree that wearing burqas or niqabs is not called for in the Quran. Women are encouraged to dress with modesty.

Some Muslim women support the ban, including Sihem Habachi, writes CNN.

“When you wear the full veil, you don’t have the right to work, you don’t have the right to choose your husband, you don’t have the right to love,” said Habachi, a Muslim feminist. “You are totally in prison. What is the aim of our democracy? What is the aim of our republic? It is to protect. That is a new challenge for our republic today.”

We have an extensive history of writing about full-coverage clothing at AOC. Follow burqa tag. Also, these original articles about burqas created a lot of reader interest and Anne’s ongoing dialogue with the Muslim community.

While the World Debates Burqas, Fashion Designers Show Beautiful Abayas at Paris’s George V Hotel

Beyond the Veil: The Intersection of Sensuality, Culturally Appropriate & Women’s Rights

Givenchy Couture Embraces Mid-Eastern Influences, While In Sudan, Women Are Flogged for Wearing Pants

Explaining the ban:

Burqa: A burqa is a full-body garment with a mesh window for the eyes. Widely used in Afghanistan — and required under Taliban rule — the burqa is banned under France’s new headscarf law.

Hijab: A hijab is a tightly worn scarf that covers the head and neck but not the fact. The most common Islamic head covering, it is permitted under France’s new law.

Niqab: A niqab is a veil that covers the face, exposing only the eyes. The niqab is banned under the new French law.

Chador: The chador is a black, full-body garment that leaves the face uncovered. Chadors are permitted under the new French law.

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