April 10th, 2011
01:19 PM ET

France's controversial burqa ban takes effect

Paris (CNN) - French police arrested two veiled women protesting the country's law banning face-hiding Islamic burqas and niqabs Monday, just hours after the legislation took effect.

The arrests outside Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris were not for wearing the prohibited garments. Police say the women were instead arrested for participating in an unauthorized protest. But the incident reflected the high passions the ban has incited among some Muslims.

One woman who disapproves of the ban said no one forces her to wear the niqab, a full-face veil with an opening for her eyes, and she should be left alone.

"I've not committed a crime," said Hind Amas, who was not among those arrested. "I'm walking peacefully in the street. I've not attacked anyone."

Read about American women who wear Islamic headscarves

The ban pertains to the burqa, a full-body covering that includes a mesh over the face, as well as the niqab.

The hijab, which covers the hair and neck but not the face, and the chador, which covers the body but not the face, apparently are not banned by the law.

Read about two Tennessee sisters who wear the hijab

"The ban does not target the wearing of a headscarf, head gear, scarf or glasses, as long as the accessories do not prevent the person from being identified," the Interior Ministry said in a statement.

Read the full story about France's burqa ban taking effect
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Europe • France • Islam

soundoff (1,962 Responses)
  1. Joe Rioux

    It's a great move. I'm all for religious tolerance, but history shows that religions with extreme or antisocial practices have to adapt. For example, Mormons had to ban polygamy to adapt to the U.S. society in which it was immersed. Similarly, Muslims have to adapt to a modern world in which being able to see someone's face is essential. Barring things like costume parties, etc.... it's antisocial to hide your face in modern society. Welcome to the 21st century, folks. Burqas be gone. Hooray! If you don't like it move out of France for "religious freedom" reasons, just like the Puritans did when they moved to America.

    April 11, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
    • kayinde

      I know many Muslim men with multiple "wives" and families. You need to research the history of the LDS church and understand that polygamy was implemented for a short time only as a way to provide for widows and children whose husbands were killed as a result of religious intolerance during the journey out west. It wasn't a matter of adapting to culture – it was a direct communication of heavenly will to the guiding prophet of the church.If Muslims were as peace loving as the Mormons I know, I wouldn't have a problem with them.

      April 11, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
  2. BriSoFla

    Frankly I am against all sorts of religious mandates such as living a certain way, dressing a certain way, as being forced to dress in a way to conform to a religion is just stupid. However, the problem I have with this law is it applies to face covering – so does this mean no one can wear a halloween mask or dress in costume like for Christmas or Easter Bunny or even Mickey Mouse or paint their face? I say this because the law applies to all citizens, so that means no one can wear anything covering their face. That is just as stupid as ANY religious rules that require such ridiculous heinous looking outfits in the first place.

    April 11, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
  3. John

    Just try walking into an American bank with a burqua. Let's see how your rights work out for you then.

    April 11, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
  4. Diana

    I agree with France and applaud them for it. For amirah1825 – I had to laugh at your suggestion they simply ask for identification and compare it to what? The person behind the mask? LMAO Its not racist to want to be able to identify the people in your country and there is nothing religious about covering yourself up to this extent. Its a personal choice and France has every right to ban it. Don't like it – move.

    April 11, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
  5. libdisorder

    Perhaps if the protestors don't like French law, they would feel more comfortable in their homeland.

    April 11, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
    • timothyn

      And what if they were born in france?

      April 11, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
    • Nat

      If you were born in France it's your obligation as a citizen to abide by their laws. It is in the benefit of the general population that a country makes a law, not the small percentage who believe the law should mold to their needs. Once again, if you don't like it, You can still move. People move to other contries every day becasue they are not satisfied with the laws or living situation from whence they came. Why should this be any different?

      April 11, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
    • timothyn

      @Nat: how does restricting the burqa "good for the general public"? Those women are not bothering anyone and they agree to show their faces for security reasons (airports, banks). So, how does a silly law that impinges on freedom of religion "good for the public"? (why not just come out and say that you hate Islam and would like for muslims to be discriminated against?)

      April 11, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
  6. Skegee

    Reason #1325468126478 I'm glad we're not France. GO USA!

    And for those goofballs saying it's an identification issue, when's the last time you heard of someone robbing a bank in a burqa? Chances are, if they're so religious as to wear one, they don't believe in robbing people. Duh!

    April 11, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
    • John

      Are you saying bank robbers aren't smart enough to pretend to be a woman in a burqa? or are you saying once you put on a burqa you become a peaceful citizen??

      April 11, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
    • timothyn

      Those burqa women obviously still have to show their face to get identified at airports & banks (that was already the law) and will usually agree to that.

      April 11, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
    • John

      if they are going to have to reveal themselves any way... then what's the point?

      April 11, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • John

      I think all criminals on the lamb might find the burqa quite the fashion 🙂 So much for face-recoginition technology...

      April 11, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
    • MissV

      hahaha That's brilliant! so now people wearing burgas, muslim type garb/face & body covers, etc... are Peace loving, extremely religious folk. You're never going to sell anyone on that idea. This will always be the case. I say respect the rules in the country you have chosen to reside in–natural citizen or immigrant. It's that simple. Keep your religion in your home, temple, mosque, church...whatever!!!!!!!!! It's your private choice. Or live in the Arab states where you can get beaten, burned or maimed if you're not wearing a full face and body cover. Now that's a religion I can cling to!

      April 11, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
    • John

      I meant "lam" although on a "lamb" would be pretty funny too!

      April 11, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
    • Orion

      You do not have to rob a bank in a burqa, just rob it in street clothes than put on your burqa.

      April 11, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
  7. NENative

    When religious practices are used to justify, shield, or conceal violent actions or simply to create an atmosphere of fear, do not be surprised when society starts to look for ways to tear down those shields. Obviously, not every woman wearing such garments is a terrorist, or necessarily a victim of abuse. However, the reasons that people have for fearing such concealment are a direct result of the actions taken by members of the same community that are now objecting to this ban. France may not be doing the "right" thing in the purest sense of personal liberties, but they are doing the "right" thing to ensure the safety of the general population, and to reduce their people's fears, fears that are not without justification.

    April 11, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
    • Nat

      Well said. The point is to ensure the safety of the majority.

      April 11, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
  8. Tina

    Religion is not an excuse for every behaviour. If a country says it is safer for everyone to reveal their faces in public places, you are obliged to do that or not to go to a public place. Practice your religion at home, stop advertising it, preaching it, stuffing it down the throats of those of us who don't care. The more people insist that 'God tells them to do this so everyone else has just to respect it' the less I respect religion and I want it gone from social life forever.

    April 11, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
  9. willy

    If I lived in a country where my wife or daughter could not wear a blouse or cover the upper half of her body I would move to another country. I suppose that is how those people would feel. Stupid French, don't they know that many Islamist will move out of France or not come there to start with . . . " Wait a minute, hummmmm. I take back the "stupid" part.

    April 11, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
  10. Jeff

    Well done France!! If people would like to live in France, they will need to abide by French laws. You mold yourself to the country in which you are living. To do the reverse and expect others to accept you is absurd.

    April 11, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
    • timothyn

      In this case, the people are already living there...many even born there & france is their home. 10% of france is muslim. You are passing a law specifcally targetting a minority. A government should pass laws to serve its population, not descriminate against it.

      April 11, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
    • MissV

      I agree!! However, we (the U.S.) are the only country that is so afraid of the bad P.R. or offending any religion, nationality, etc, so we bow down to anybody protesting these crazy shenanigans. Finally, France has made me proud, and I may just admit that my maternal side is of French origin. Maybe...

      April 11, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
  11. timothyn

    This obviously a wrong law: both for religious freedoms as well as personal freedoms. If a women wants to go naked in public or wear a burqa, it is HER choice. Why are men making laws that restrict women's clothing? Last time i checked, France was a democracy with separation of church and state with the right to dress as you wish and practice your religion as you wish. IN this case, they are passing laws specifically targeting a minority. What will be next? Jewish skullcaps? Crosses? The veil, skullcaps, crosses are not harming anybody. For airport screening and banks, those women still have to show their faces anyways. You see, this is a wrong law that will only give extremists credibility. Those with an obvious anti-Islam bias may disagree... but its to their own peril.

    April 11, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
    • Nat

      They aren't banning it because of religion. It's due to the fact that you cannot be identified if your face is covered. The moral of this new law is not to opress a religion but to ensure safety of the majority, wear your yarmukle or your cross or your head coverinngs but you're not allowed to have your face completely covered for security reasons. Makes sense. When in Rome, do as the Romans, if you don't like it, MOVE.

      April 11, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
    • weasel

      I meant to hit reply no report abuse...

      Now to the reply.

      No one else is allowed to run around with their face hidden. That is all there is to it legally. Any alterior motives would be icing on the cake.

      April 11, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
  12. Huh?

    I don't remember my Savior Jesus telling any of us what type of clothing we could or could not wear? Nope, not in any of the 4 gospels. So why do his 'people' try to implement such things? hmmn, strange.

    April 11, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
  13. Eric

    if you disagree with the ban you are muslim. the veils have NOTHING to do with their religion it is personal choice. they HIDE behind them to commit CRIMES

    April 11, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • timothyn

      I disagree with it and I am not muslim. By the way, your argument that only muslim disagree with it proves that it does have to do with religion. You just contradicted yourself.

      April 11, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
  14. bduce

    When in a Islamic country, non-islamic women are required to were head covers even if they are attractive. When islamic women are in non-islamic countries, they should be required to dress as the law decrees. If they don't like it they can return to the backward country they came from. They can't be that ugly to want to cover themselves up and they have treatments for extreme facial hair if they feel they need to make themselves more presentable.

    April 11, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
  15. rad

    So it's ok for Saudi Arabia to tell me I can't drive and I have to wear a head scarf when I am in their country...yet France can't make it's own rules.......I'm confused.

    April 11, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
    • Jeff

      RAD – Very well said!

      April 11, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
    • MissV

      I'm with you 100%. It's a double standard and it's getting rather boring having to read about the "burga" wear it, don't wear, I could not care less. Just get off the soap box and follow the rules in the country you decide to live in–like the rest of us.

      April 11, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
    • Joe Rioux

      Exactly. Tell the burqa brigade in France to move to Saudi Arabia. They should be happier there.

      April 11, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
    • WhereToNowDC

      RAD, I agree with you, it's not okay in either country. The difference is that France is a democracy and Saudi Arabia is not. In theory democracies are supposed to be tolerant of other's beliefs, but that seems to be less and less the case these days.

      April 11, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
    • tom

      so we want to compare ourselves to Saudi Arabia? sounds like a good idea.

      April 11, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
    • AmericanPieX

      The rule is fine, what is is wrong is that the western Europeans and Americans claim to be sooo much better than Islamic countries yet now they are enforcing rules as rigid. Hypocrisy is the name of the game apparently

      April 11, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
  16. Blake

    Oppression=muslim culture and it starts in the home.

    April 11, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
  17. Melody

    If they don't like this, then they should to start policing their own religious group. Alot of terorrists are fantics in their religion, but still it is they are part of a religious group.

    April 11, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
  18. Angela

    Since when did being Muslim become a crime? The religion is not at fault for the violence, it is people. Just like the Christians who have inflicted violence on others for having beliefs which differ from their own. The actions of people do not reflect the pure nature of the religion. Why should we condem the people who are trying to honor their faith. America was founded for freedom of prosecution for religion. Our country was made great by so many people of different faiths and cultures. How such ignorance and hate came from the pure intentions of the people who created our nation and continued to make it great, I will never understand. However, this ignorance and hate clearly mirrors the ignorance and hate of all the "Americans" who hate those that are different. It's hard to have faith in people when they are using ignorance and hate to prevent violence.

    April 11, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
    • Donahue H.

      Since September 11, 2001

      April 11, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
    • Total non sense

      Been a muslim >is< a CRIME AGAINS HUMANITY. There is no peace on earth possible unless Islam is totally destroyed

      April 11, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
    • NYPrincessTt

      I think that a common sense approach to ensuring safety (banning clothing that covers the face and prevents being identifed) is being used as a pro-muslim agenda. That's wrong.

      April 11, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
  19. urkiddinme

    I'm all for France and they're banning the burqa. Evidently, those who are "hiding" behind burqas don't understand what we had gone through back on 9/11. As for the above comment stating, "..why not ban people who wear crucifixes, etc..." Those accessories aren't covering our faces! This ban has NOTHING to do with religion. It has to do with identification. How many times have we encountered robbers who have been difficult to identify because of ski masks being worn? As for these Muslim women treating whites because it's their way of feeling authoritative. The only reason they feel as though they have the right to treat people this way is because they can't do it when they're with their husbands. If I ever encountered people like this I'd put them in their place–quickly. I don't care if you're the President, CEO, etc. Everyone should treat each other with respect. None of this, "I earned the right blah, blah." I do wish the U.S. would ban burqas as well. I'm so tired of hearing, "We have the right to do this or that because of our religion.." It's getting out of hand and it's becoming the excuse of choice.

    April 11, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
    • Gort01

      i dont see anything controversial about the ban...if you want to move to another country....assimilate....embrace their customs and pactices.....or GET OUT....

      noone seems to have a fit about islamic countries requiring Hillary Clinton to cover her head and arm skin...so Eff off you crazy moslems ...dont like the law....GO BACK TO YOU OWN COUNTRY

      April 11, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
    • D

      urkiddinme, then they should ban ski masks as well.

      April 11, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
    • tolerant

      So, why is there no law banning men from wearing ski masks in public?

      April 11, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
    • Joe

      If you don't like the countries laws, then leave. Its simple. Go back to Saudi Arabia, Iran, or Pakistan and obery their Islamic laws if you love covering your face and body. It's a matter of security brought on by their own religions ideology. If they fled their home countries from Isalmic dictators, why not enjoy the freedoms of the West? Stop trying to change our societies int your failed socities. I'm all for freedom of religion, but honestly just wear the robes at home.

      April 11, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
    • John

      Try walking around in public with a full ski mask on and tell me you won't get stopped... right.

      April 11, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
  20. Jim M

    I believe in the only two things that can give us peace, freedom of religion and freedom from religion. Everyone should be free to practice their religion in the privacy of their own homes or private places of worship and to the creation and sale of printed material. This right and privilege should should not extend to the public arena where opposing belief systems can lead to controversy or worse. Tolerance and respect for others will curtail our ego's need to push our religious beliefs (or not) on others. Beliefs are simply that, beliefs and opinions of some, not absolute truth for all.

    April 11, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • Samantha W

      Very VERY well put Mr. Jim M.

      April 11, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
    • weasel

      So in an attempt to avert conflict, you feel people should have to hide part of who they are, in public.

      Even though every religion pretty much requires itself to be spread. (Thus the whole private thing forcing them to violate it.)

      Not to mention for a religious person they are failing those around them by not at least mentioning it.

      Sorry Jim, but as noble as your thoughts may be they are sorely misguided on some very basic fundamentals.

      1. Stifles people and forces them to fit into the "acceptable" mold based on the most easily offended's sensibilities.

      2. Causes hidden resentment. Unresolved issues never heal over time. Siblings who get into a fist fight have a much higher chance of reconciling than ones who avoid conflict, and let the bitterness grow.

      The system for the 1st amendment put into place 220 years ago so far has not been surpassed.

      April 11, 2011 at 2:16 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.