The French Senate voted 246-1 (with about 100 abstentions) on Tuesday to ban burkas and niqabs in public places.
What will happen when the law goes into effect in the spring?
The law imposes a fine of 150 euros ($190) and/or a citizenship course as punishment for wearing a face-covering veil. Forcing a woman to wear a niqab or a burqa will be punishable by a year in prison or a 15,000-euro ($19,000) fine, the government said, calling it “a new form of enslavement that the republic cannot accept on its soil.”
The ban pertains to the burqa, a full-body covering that includes a mesh over the face, and the niqab, a full-face veil that leaves an opening only for the eyes. The hijab, which covers the hair and neck but not the face, and the chador, which covers the body but not the face, apparently are not banned by the law.
I’m not sure whether I like the new law or not. I weighed in on the issue a few months ago and it was a tough call to decide between civil liberties and oppressive clothing that could hinder security.
I’m still leaning toward the civil liberties side. If women want to wear the burka or niqab, let them. To paraphrase one commenter at Cynical-C Blog, the only thing worse than telling a woman she has to wear a burqa is telling her she can’t wear one at all.
Paul Sims points to a video of a Muslim woman explaining a possible loophole to the new law:
Sneaky. I’ll admit, I like the thought process there.
Do you support the new law?