France veil ban goes into effect

[JURIST] The controversial French law [materials, in French] that bans the wearing of full Muslim veils, including burqas, nigabs and other facial coverings in public took effect [implementation circular, in French] on Monday. Pursuant to the law, people caught wearing facial coverings in public can be fined 150 euros (USD $215) and/or ordered to take a citizenship class. In addition, anyone convicted of forcing a someone else to cover their face may be fined up to 30,000 euro and jailed for one year [AFP report, in French], and the penalties double if the incident involves a minor. The ban affects citizens, residents and tourists alike, and extends to all public places [Le Figaro backgrounder, in French], including airports, hospitals, government offices and even places of worship that are open to the public. However, France's Constitutional Council [official website] has stated this prohibition cannot "unduly ... restrict the exercise of religious freedom in places of worship are open to the public." On Monday two women wearing nigab were arrested [Al Jazeera report] in Paris after participating in a protest against the new law outside Notre Dame Cathedral. Police reported the women were arrested not for wearing a face covering, but rather participating in a unsanctioned protest. Five million Muslims reside in France, but it is believe that fewer than 2,000 women [Reuters report] wear a type of head covering that would be banned under French law.

In October, the French Constitutional Council ruled that the ban conforms with the Constitution [JURIST report]. The bill was approved by the National Assembly in July and by the Senate [JURIST reports] in September. Legislation banning the use of Islamic burqas has been a point of contention recently in many European countries. In October, Dutch politician Geert Wilders [personal website, in Dutch] said that the Netherlands will ban the burqa [JURIST report] as part of the government's plan to form a minority coalition. In August, Austria's conservative Freedom Party [official website, in German] called for a special vote [JURIST report] on whether to ban face veils and the construction of minarets, two of the most visible symbols of the Islamic faith. In July, Spain's lower house of parliament rejected a proposal [JURIST report] to ban the burqa and other full face veils by a vote of 183 to 162 with 2 abstaining.

 

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.