News / Europe

Europe Rights Court Backs French Burqa Ban

File - Kenza Drider, wearing a niqab, drives a car in Avignon, southern France.
File - Kenza Drider, wearing a niqab, drives a car in Avignon, southern France.
Lisa Bryant

In a decision with potentially wider implications, Europe’s highest court on Tuesday upheld France's controversial 2010 ban on full-face veils in public, dismissing a case brought by a French woman against the state for breach of religious freedom.

In its ruling, the European Court of Human Rights rejected a petition by a young Muslim woman that France's 2010 veil ban violated her rights and amounted to discrimination.

The Strasbourg-based court found the legislation did not violate the European Convention on Human Rights.

The French law bans most face-covering garments, including the Islamic face veil, or niqab, and Afghan-style burqa. 

French authorities argue the measure is important not only for security reasons, but because face veils violate France's secularist creed and women's rights.

Only a small minority of French Muslim women actually wear face veils - the government estimates less than 2,000 of France's 5 or 6 million Muslims. Nonetheless, the ban has sparked controversy, with some Muslims arguing it unfairly singles them out.

Reactions

Reacting to the ruling, French Council of the Muslim Faith head Dalil Boubakeur said face veils like the niqab are not a religious obligation.

Boubakeur said the word niqab is not mentioned in the Koran as a religious prescription.  He said he has no problem with banning the garment, although he said stricter Muslims may disagree.

But Amnesty International called the court's ruling "deeply damaging" and a "profound retreat on the right of freedom of expression and religion."

A researcher on radical Islam at the Paris-based National Center for Scientific Research, Maryam Borghee, said she is concerned about the ruling's ramifications.

In 2012, Borghee authored a book about why young French women adopt the veil, which she said many do voluntarily.

Borghee said she believes the ruling will deepen the divide between more conservative European Muslims, even if they are in the minority, and public powers. And it will reinforce the belief among Muslims that they are being stigmatized because of their religion.

The European court's ruling may have wider implications. 

Belgium also adopted the veil ban, as have some areas of Switzerland. 

In France, the ruling reinforces a number of judicial decisions in favor of the ban, including one just a few days ago by the country's highest court (Court of Cassation).

No discrimination

Two of the 17 judges, who spent several months deliberating on the case, dissented from the majority view. But the judges agreed unanimously that the woman had not been a victim of discrimination.

Authorities passed the law under former President Nicolas Sarkozy's administration, casting the full-faced veil as an affront to the country's tenets of secularism as well as being degrading to women. It is also a security risk, preventing the accurate identification of individuals, officials have said.

The 24-year-old French woman who brought the lawsuit had not been prosecuted under the law, which has resulted in only a few arrests since it was introduced in 2010, according to the French news agency AFP.

The woman, a university graduate, had requested anonymity for fear of reprisals in France over her action.

She had argued that being obliged to take off her veil in public was degrading.

In written evidence, she had testified that she wore the full veil of her own free will and was willing to remove it whenever required for security reasons - addressing two of the main arguments put forward by French authorities in support of the ban.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters and AFP.

You May Like

Turkey's Erdogan: Women Not Equal to Men

Speaking at conference in Istanbul, President Erdogan says Islam has defined a position for women: motherhood More

Ahead of SAARC Summit, Subdued Expectations

Some regional analysts say distrust between Pakistani, Indian officials has slowed SAARC's progress over the year More

Philippines Leery of Development on Reef Reclamation in S. China Sea

Chinese land reclamation projects in area have been ongoing for years, but new satellite imagery reportedly shows China’s massive construction project More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Godwin from: Nigeria
July 01, 2014 1:56 PM
It's time the world reconsiders its stand with the so-called Amnesty International seemingly in support of everything in counter clockwise direction. Perhaps the body wants to use its mandate to force people to accept anything and everything, even when such can be harmful or injurious. There is a need to reappraise the usefulness or otherwise of the Amnesty International to avoid being misled by it in matters of security importance. In a world in want of transparency where bigots and miscreants have escaped or evaded arrest because of such ungodly camouflage, Amnesty International saying the court is "deeply damaging" is itself a profound retreat on its mandate to the right of security and protection of the individual and state.

And talking about stigmatization, islam and muslims have got enough reason to earn it. If people are not ashamed to be called muslim now, in the face of outrageous crises the religion has caused everywhere, boko haram in Nigeria, al qaida everywhere, el shebaab in Somalia, ISIL in Iraq, Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, even to the killing and kidnapping of children and women etc. etc. then the world has gone crazy.

In Response

by: E. Marinos from: Athens, Greece
July 02, 2014 3:37 AM
France and generally Europe, in their constitutions accept full freedom in the believes of all of their CITIZENS, although the majority are Christians and some states declares that into their first article of their constitutions. Most of Christians uses to wear a cross under their clothes, just for themselves and according to their believes, so not to propound their faith in public "advertising" their faith, or bother other people with different faith. When Christians visit or stay in countries where other Creeds persist, they (the Christians) follow the rules of that country and they do not defy. So dear of any Creed, YOU HAVE TO DO THE SAME TOO if you want to enjoy the same rights as the locals, otherwise you will become outlaw.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid