France parliamentary commission recommends partial burqa ban

[JURIST] The French parliamentary commission charged with investigating whether to enact laws banning the wearing of burqas [JURIST news archive] or other "full veils" released its report [text, PDF; in French] Tuesday calling for a partial ban. The panel urged a ban [Al Jazeera report] that would apply in public facilities, including hospitals, schools, and public transportation, and to any individual attempting to receive public services. The panel also recommended that permanent residency and citizenship be denied to anyone displaying their adherence to "radical religious practices." The commission did not recommend a total ban on the burqa because not all members agreed that such a move would be constitutional. The potential ban has received widespread support [CNN report] throughout France. Any legislation will probably not be voted on until after the French regional elections in March.

The commission began its hearings in July after being established [JURIST report] a month earlier to address the issue. The panel has heard testimony from numerous experts, including anthropologist Dounia Bouzar [TIME profile], who suggested that a broad ban on covering one's face to conceal identity is preferable to a law that singles out Muslims. Bouzar said that the recent popularity of the burqa amongst French Muslims was due to religious "gurus" who have misconstrued the teachings of Islam. The commission also heard from University of Nice [academic website, in French] philosopher Abdennour Bidar, who urged the commission to find a way to prevent the spread of the practice, though he was unsure whether this goal is best accomplished through legislation.

 

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