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France’s burqa ban: Do you agree?
The ban on Islamic veils has been passed by the French Senate, and could be active in six months.
September 15, 2010 2:00 by shafeer
Given the widespread public support, it was almost inevitable: France’s Senate has overwhelmingly approved a bill that would see the Islamic full veil banned in public in the country. The BBC reports that the bill, which was approved by the lower house of parliament in July, will come into force in six months time if it is not overturned by constitutional judges. The vote was 246 to 1 in favour of the ban.
The ban has strong support among the French public, and was backed by President Nicolas Sarkozy himself. He has described the veils as “Walking coffins,” according to reports. The law would carry a fine of 150 euros for women who break it, and 30,000 euros and a one year jail term for men who force their wives to wear the veil. Spain and Belgium are debating similar legislation.
There is still a chance the constitutional court could declare the ban illegal, or that it could be overturned by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, which France is bound to follow. But it seems France’s statement of intent has been made.
Where do you stand on the issue?
It could be argued that France’s laws are her own, and they are governed by the majority will of the people. If it is the will of the majority to ban these items of clothing, then the law must inevitably be passed and – if not respected by all – at least obeyed.
On the other hand, the ban could be considered an infringement of civil liberties. Shouldn’t people be free to wear what they like? And beyond the law itself, what about the motivation behind its enactment? Why does a majority of the French public feel so moved on this issue? After all, estimates put the number of women who wear the veil in France at a mere 2,000. Is it all down to Islamophobia?