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France’s Burqa Ban Begins, With Full Coverage (As It Were)

Today marked the beginning of France’s controversial ban on the burqa — not to be confused with the niqab, hijab or chador, as I’ve previously noted here (and CNN reminds us), but rather the clothing that completely hides a Muslim woman’s face.

However, I’ve now seen reports that the ban DOES also extend to the niqab, which is the clothing that leaves a slit for  the woman’s eyes, rather than a mesh screen. I’m a bit confused about this, because it’s still being called a “burqa ban.” Maybe it’s just a catchier phrase, or it’s a lost-in-translation thing from the French, or the burqa is considered an umbrella term of sorts, like how a square is a rhombus, but a rhombus isn’t a square? Hmmm.


In any case, there are only a few thousand women in France (out of more than5 million Muslims) estimated to wear the burqa or niqab. I’m still confused about whether this will extend to Saudi tourists at  the airports and hotels? (Those are the only places I’ve seen much of the burqa/niqab in western Europe.) Also, at least one Muslim  cleric has stated that Muslim women may forgo the burqa or niqab, if wearing them goes against a country’s law. Women who wear the burqa or niqab in public anyway will be fined, about $216.

Here are some links:

It’s also worth checking out this Reuters, via Huffington Post, summary of where other European countries (Belgium, the Netherlands) stand on the burqa/niqab situation.


What do you think? Check back for updates, and share your thoughts in the Comments section below.

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posted April 11, 2011 at 11:19 pm

I can understand laws against forcing women to wear certain things. But how is forcing women NOT to wear certain things better? There has to be some middle ground here. I don’t buy the security excuse. Muslim women aren’t strapping bombs to their faces. Nor do I buy any excuses about female empowerment. You’re still punishing women for dressing a certain way. Sounds to me like conservatives and liberals alike are trying way too hard to get rid of something that makes them uncomfortable. And what’s this about women who break the law being required to take “special citizenship classes”? That doesn’t sound ominous at all.

Where are the conservative Christians who love complaining about secular humanism trampling on religious freedom, I wonder?

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posted April 12, 2011 at 9:25 pm

While I think they are ridiculous, I wouldn’t care if a woman wore a burqa. But laws like “no shoes, no shirt, no service” exist, and there are indecent exposure laws. So regulating clothing is not without precedent.

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