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April 12th, 2011
02:27 PM ET

First woman cited under France's veil ban

By the CNN Wire Staff

Police in the Paris suburb of Yvelines have issued what is believed to be the nation's first fine for wearing an Islamic veil in public.

A 28-year-old woman was fined 150 euros (about $215) Monday evening, the same day the law went into effect, according to police.

Police declined to specify whether the woman was wearing a burqa, a full-body covering that includes a mesh over the face, or a niqab, a full-face veil with an opening for the eyes.

Both are banned by the new French law, which has drawn criticism from some human rights and religious organizations and some Muslims as discriminatory. France has Western Europe's largest Muslim population.

Police in Paris arrested two veiled women Monday, but said those arrests were for participating in an unapproved demonstration.

The law allows women who are cited for wearing an illegal veil to pay the fine or perform community service. It reserves harsher treatment for anyone who forces a person to wear a veil. That is punishable by a year in prison and a 30,000 euro fine (about $43,300). Forcing a minor to wear the veil is punishable by two years in prison and 60,000 euros.

Authorities say the prohibition is necessary for national security reasons as well as to uphold French values of equality, dignity and national identity.

The French Constitutional Council said the law does not impose disproportionate punishments or prevent the free exercise of religion in a place of worship, finding therefore that "the law conforms to the Constitution."

But critics argue the government has no business telling people what clothes to wear or how to practice their religion.

"I am free to do whatever I want and this is a choice that I want to make," wrote Hebah Ahmed, a blogger. "And just because somebody doesn't accept my interpretation of Islam or personally like it doesn't mean that we can use laws to violate people's freedom of expression and freedom of religion."

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: France • Islam

soundoff (57 Responses)
  1. DMcK

    Go to jail until fine is paid – it's the law! Burglar type coverings are not suitable in western nations valuing equality & freedom. Move to an Islamic country. Goodbye!

    May 12, 2011 at 7:55 am |
  2. RUkidding me!

    To wear the veil, to become invisible is a necessity of day-to-day survival in your own country -filled with misogyny & (ignored) violence perpetrated against women every day. In other countries with equality, freedom, liberty & protection by law you can remove the veil -no need to hide here. Bravo France!! ps. True religion lives within you & cannot be taken by removing a veil.

    April 25, 2011 at 10:01 am |
  3. Ralph

    Good to see the French growing a pair.

    April 13, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
  4. nina

    You people are bringing up that in Arab countries you must cover up and have an escort, but that is an Islamic State, where islamic law in in use, not a secular state such as France, where church and state is supposedly seperated, so a secular state should not be prohibiting someone from choosing their own clothes and expressing their beliefs

    April 13, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Even as a Christian that is a slippey slope. The covering of the face has been said over and over, not required by the Koran. This then falls under their choosing of what they want to wear on a personal level, not spiritual required level. For the public safety side what do they have to stand on?

      April 13, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
  5. MoHamMad

    Self study on Political Islam: For lazy people who does not like to read the threat.

    ihttp://infidelsunited.com/music/16/self-study-on-political-islam

    April 13, 2011 at 11:12 am |
  6. Enoch

    Can you see the devil in eyes?

    April 13, 2011 at 10:58 am |
  7. Peedy Oor-ree-on

    Anita, DKKDD is not reacting emotionally; he is just being a good Muslim. It is time America woke up that Muslims have no interest in religious freedom at all. There is none in their societies. They are interested only in implementing sharia, and dominating the world with their theocratic autocracy. See website http://www.IslamQA.com.

    April 13, 2011 at 4:28 am |
  8. Beredugu

    I see that its all about trouble making and trying to be different no obstinate. You go to so-called muslim countries and you are forced to do what their Religion says. But when you go to a place that is non-muslim and they say you must do some things you don't necessarily accept as a Muslim its a problem... Honestly? OIL is the only relevance most of these ARAB nations have with reality. THe slavery is over so all the fight for brotherhood and rights of the oppressed is unnecessary and useless in this day and age. Get going and promote prosperity, peace and love in your communities rather than looking to change every body else's way of life

    April 13, 2011 at 4:19 am |
  9. Ren

    The law is for people not to hide their face in public beacuse of terrorists.

    If women go to a muslim countries most will force them to abide by their rules so why are muslims complaining to abide by anyone elses ruleso ther than their own ? are they special and unique that we cant do anything they dislike?

    This law does not affect religious freedom as most muslims will say the veil has nothing to do with the quran.

    As for religious leaders complaining maybe the muslims should look at violations of human rights throughout muslims nations where other religions are oppressed before judging frances new law.
    And christians should turn to the authorities all the priests who been evading capture from molestation thanks to the churches rotation to not get caught system .

    April 13, 2011 at 3:46 am |
  10. theoldadam

    The de-humanization of women by Islam never ceases to amaze me.

    April 13, 2011 at 1:56 am |
  11. Mark from Middle River

    @DNA

    "I made the comment that religions fight over who has the real god....which is not good and will not have a good outcome. "

    Do religions fight over that? I go to a AME church that has a Baptist church north of us and a Catholic church with in site of us.

    Maybe our pastor spoke about the big bad "Rumble" we are going to have with the Catholics next week in our 8am service... but in the 11 oclock one we did not say that those up at the other "saint" church are going down...I think we are still trying to get past the street fight with the Hindu temple volley ball slaughter of 2007 interfaith picnic.

    the horror DNA ...the true horror. :)

    April 13, 2011 at 1:41 am |
    • Evolved DNA

      Mark...The veneer of civility on religions is very thin..I am sure that the Catholics do not agree at all with the JWs, the Muslims do not agree with anyone, the Christains are constantly being vocal about the persecution they get in Islamic countries.. no, religions are jealous of their positions. Catholic mom tells us that the catholic Church is only one god recognizes. all others are off shoots and of no consequence.. including yours if you are a baptist. Frederica tells us to that Christans are always persecuted and are in danger of not being able to speak out! I did not imply, or at least oi had no intention to imply, that churches are physically fighting..of course not. But at a level where they try to improve understanding, there is tension. remember the popes visit to the UK this year..the C of E and the catholic church are very uneasy "bedfellows"

      April 17, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
  12. Anita

    Aren't there Arab countries where non-Arab female visitors are forced to wear coverings, even if it goes against THEIR religious beliefs? Goes both ways.

    April 12, 2011 at 11:54 pm |
    • LEB

      Beliefs AND civil rights. If a Western woman goes to Saudi Arabia, she'll have to cover up, not drive, and have a male escort wherever she does. In the US these are considered serious violations of human rights. Hence why Americans are not flocking to emigrate to the Middle East.

      April 13, 2011 at 12:03 am |
    • Anita

      ....and maybe a reason why they're leaving their nations and flocking to ours.

      April 13, 2011 at 12:25 am |
    • Fred

      Anita: in response to your reply to your own message below, Muslim women (and Muslims in general) aren't flocking to Europe for freedom, from the veil or anything else. If they were, they'd stopped wearing it once they got here. Muslims flock to the West to suck off the welfare benefits while they continue to live in their primitive culture. I'm an American living in Amsterdam. I experience it everyday.

      April 13, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
    • fecund

      exactly! that is the religious hypocrisy or the confusion in religion. Sort of is understandable because based on new knowledge and evidence religions have long expired that is why now they can only stink and cause terrible consequences. Islam is a culture very much focused on placing limitations. if Muslims are coming to America from Islamic countries they are not coming here to find freedom of religion because they had that. they had all of it. too much of it. they leave because we have a system that produces results mostly monetary for people. This is a country catering to people and business enterprises that people establish be it religious or not. In America religious people get benefits from their churches well if you are a poor person from Yemen you are going to love it here because you will be paid to remain faithful to Islam because now mosques like churches earn money. there is monetary incentive involved clearly; money makes people compromise no matter the claim of serious religiosity. Muslim women in veil claiming to have a choice in veiling themselves are liars or simply delusion with respect to their knowledge of Islam. yes they have a choice to wear one but that is ONLY in relation to how the men mostly in the family and community react to this choice. if you choose to wear one in the absence of male intervention or even male encouragement to do the opposite of veiling, it still does not qualify as a choice because in the Koran god said to cover the bosom. in fact he told a man to tell the women to cover. which part to cover is not the point or even the fact that a man was assigned the duty to intervene in female matters. the point is the order, the command to do something. well if you are under a command especially from GOD whom you believe as true there can't be a choice. so either Muslims be honest with themselves or stop imposing Islam on the west because we have gone through religious rivalries. Islam needs resolution but they have to do it in their countries if they are not going to be honest about it. allowing Muslims to understand Islam or show America how great Islam is basically gives them the green light for honor killing because that is in Islam. but not everyone is killing in the name of honor or how many deaths have been reported based on honor killing done by a Muslims in Europe and America, a Muslim would cry. i would say enough to have us be on our guards. and if there hasn't been a lot of killing it is not because Islam is finally not being distorted it is precisely because it is being distorted that people are compelled to be civil bound by secular laws that they have to answer to. if they kill someone in the name of honor we call it murder and we have a punishment for that on this planet. we don't live in Abraham times when killing your son was a sign of faith. let's all be honest. i came across this video – one person's depiction of discovering freedom only after examining religion: http://www.youtube.com/user/MyTayaba?feature=mhum

      April 13, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.