Burqa Ban Constitutional, Says French Court
October 7, 2010
France (ChattahBox World News) – After several months of heated debate on the legality of a ban on burqas and other Muslim wear that covers the face, both houses of the legislature have ruled that the ban is constitutional.
There have been two major issues at the heart of the coverings ban: security and women’s rights. Both were argued from each side, and both factored into the final decision to enact the law.
French authorities have long since said that the ability to cover the face in a public place is a security hazard in a time of increased threat from terrorist organizations. This threat has been underlined since France was named as one of the European countries at risk from an alleged plot from German resident extremists training in Pakistan. The attacks are believed to be an attempt at a wide spread murder spree like that of the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
Women’s rights groups in France have also been vocal about banning them for the purpose of giving women the freedom to show their faces, and the government agreed by saying that burqas and niqabs were “a new form of enslavement that the republic cannot accept on its soil.”
Those who are seen in public areas in either garment will face a 150 euro fine ($190), and will have to take a citizenship course. If it is found that a woman has been forced by anyone to wear a niqab or burqa, he or she will face a 15,000 euro fine ($19,000) and up to a year in prison.
“Given the damage it 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,” an official statement was quoted by CNN.
Many human rights groups have already spoken out in protest against the ban, calling it an infringement on the religious rights of a community. However, the French government says that their ability to worship or wear such garments in houses of worship have no been impeded, therefore no violation has been committed.