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

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month 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.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid