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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:
- France’s ban on full face veils goes into force (Reuters)
- France bans Muslim full-face veil (AFP)
- Demonstrators against France’s Ban on Muslim Veils Arrested (Religion Clause)
- France’s controversial burqa ban comes into force with much noise, little impact (TIME)
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.