News / Europe

France's Veil Ban Goes into Effect

A woman named Yamina at the Fraternite, or Brotherhood mosque in Aubervilliers
A woman named Yamina at the Fraternite, or Brotherhood mosque in Aubervilliers

France becomes the first country to enforce a ban against the niqab, or Muslim face veil Monday, when new legislation comes into force.

Friday prayer service at Fraternite -- or Brotherhood - Mosque in Aubervilliers. The women's section is packed -- and reflects France's rich immigrant mix. There are colorful. North African djellabas and sub-Saharan African gowns -- along with many all-encompassing black veils, or hijabs.

The imam's service is piped in. Women's and men's sections of the mosque are completely separated. He is castigating young men and women for mixing in public if they are not related.

For 22-year-old Someya, this will be the last Friday she goes to the mosque wearing a face veil, also known as a niqab or burqa. On Monday, new French legislation comes into effect banning women from wearing the garment.

Someya says it breaks her heart to take off the face veil because it is a statement of her Islamic faith. She says she adopted it six months ago as a personal choice.

Twenty-four-year old university student Yamina wears the hijab -- a full veil that does not cover the face.  "I'm wearing the hijab and not the niqab because I haven't got the opportunity,” she said. “Because the laws are against us and against the Muslims."

But Sarah Morvan, an 18-year-old Muslim convert, says she will keep wearing the face veil despite the ban. She will simply stay at home more.

By wearing the niqab, Morvan says she feels shielded from the looks of men and strangers. She feels cut off from society.

That's exactly what supporters of the face veil ban are fighting against. While the government estimates there are only about 2,000 women wearing the face veil in France, advocates of the ban argue the legislation is necessary if the country's estimated 5-6 million Muslims - many of them immigrants - are to integrate.

The legislation has been spearheaded by center-right President Nicolas Sarkozy - who also says it is critical to ensure the respect of women's rights and the separation of church and state.

In speeches like this one, in 2009, Sarkozy said there is no place for the face veil in France. There is no place in France for women's subjugation - under any circumstances.

But many Muslims - including those who do not wear or approve of the face veil - claim they are being unfairly targeted. They say Sarkozy and his governing UMP party are discriminating against Muslims, partly in a bid to court anti-immigration and far right voters ahead of presidential elections next year. Last week, the UMP sparked similar criticism by holding a debate on Islam and secularity.

At the Aubervilliers mosque, one women Malika - who does not wear the face veil - recalls Sarkozy speaking to a conservative Muslim group a few years ago -- when he was then France's interior minister.

Malika said Sarkozy told the women attending the meeting to take off their veils. The women responded by waving their French identity cards - and telling him they were French and Muslim - and proud of it.

Under the legislation, women wearing the face veil in public risk fines of up to $200 and taking re-education classes. Those who force a woman to wear the face veil face even tougher penalties -- of up to $41,000 and a year in prison.

Belgium passed a similar ban last year and other European countries are eyeing legislation, but France is the first to enforce it.

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid