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. D

    Did Mohammed Atta or any of the other 9/11 hijackers were a burqa or cover their faces? What about the kid who tried to light his underwear on fire while on the plane to Detroit last Xmas? What about the lunatics at Virginia Tech University and Arizona who murdered 50+ people?

    Which head cover where they wearing? Sorry, I forgot.

    That was to the people claiming its for security.

    As for those claiming its for womens rights...since when has ANYONE in this world cared enough to be proactive about women's rights.

    If you are a bigot, just say it, don't hide.

    April 11, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
  2. tewrobert

    I expect France will see a few explosions over this......You know the things that go Boom...

    April 11, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
  3. Mike

    Good job France

    April 11, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
  4. Cullen

    At first glance I thought, "what the hell....that is a terrible and unfair demand." Freedom, this is what makes countries like ours so great. Then I read the part about France stating that they basically were banning anything that prevented ID-ing a person. Then I thought, "OOOooohhh I get it its a security thing......" semi makes it better and gives and understandable angle. I don't know I read the posts and love the diversity. There are many arguments for either side. I am simply greatful to be free.

    April 11, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
  5. chuchingirl

    it's a complicated topic but in some countries women, regardless of religious beliefs, are forced to cover their head, face, arms and/or legs.....and when i visited a place like that, i covered myself and didn't argue the country's rules......so, if you are in a country where covering yourself up is prohibited and you don't agree, you should not go or leave the country........one should follow the rules of the country where you live or visit

    April 11, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
    • Geeta

      Very well said I tried to say the same thing but failed epicly well said I agree with you 🙂

      April 11, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
    • Reason

      Those are the oppressive countries that these people are trying to escape. We are supposed to live in a land of freedom. If you agree with their mentality of "my way or the high way" then I have trouble seeing how you can identify yourself as a true advocate of freedom. Also, you were a visitor to that country, not a resident. You may have put up more of a stink if you had to cover your face every day for the rest of your life.

      April 11, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
  6. Sal

    Islam is more like an evil cult than a true religion........

    April 11, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
    • Brian

      Kind of like evangelical christianity

      April 11, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
    • Reason

      What is the difference between a cult and a religion? Please enlighten me.

      April 11, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
  7. AC

    Of course this has only become an issue because of the violence being perpetrated by radical Islam. This issue illustrates the need for Muslims to police their own violence, to speak out against it actively, to rid themselves of these radicals. I see no such efforts, and remain unconvinced that mainstream Muslims even disagree with these acts. This observation perpetrates fear, and this fear is why these types of laws are being passed. We have to start protecting ourselves at some point.

    April 11, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
  8. Cedar Rapids

    So we are really now at a point where we are arresting people for what they are wearing? How can any American seriously support such a fundamental attack on a person's freedom?
    Yes the practise can be oppressive and yes Islam isn't exactly a poster child for tolerance but to really support such a ban has to an attack on a person's freedom to be able to choose. I mean if you want a good example of big government interfering in people's lives, then this is it.

    April 11, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
  9. ZeeMan

    @Jacob Mathews. Just in case you have been asleep for the last 10 year, my fellow muslim brothers and sisters have been fighting the terrorists in Pakistan, Afganistan, Iraq etc. and have paid dearly for it. This is a fight that the terrorists started, not as a religious war, but a political one because of our (American mainly) illegal and immoral, financial and political support for Israel which continues to occupy palestianian land, throwing them into refugee camps, and contructing illegal housing on their land despite several UN resolutions. Injustice breeds terrorism, and who has paid the heaviest price – Muslim countries. Go as people in Pakistan and Afganistan. Put yourself in their shoes. If your land was illegally occupied by someone and another big power supported not you but the thief and despite years of so called peace negotiations the occupation did not end but intensified, how long before you became a terrorist? Sadly, this not a fight that America or Israel can win, but will only prolong with prolonged suffering for the innocent because the terrorists will not give up either.

    April 11, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
  10. Joshua Ludd

    Nothing says liberty like being banned from wearing certain clothing.

    April 11, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • Ben

      Nothing says liberty like being told that it's ok to beat your wife in your religion (via sharia law)

      April 11, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
    • Reason

      Beating your wife involves a victim. She is protected by her civil rights in western countries. There are no victims if she wants to hear a burqa.

      April 11, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
  11. Muslim Tranny's unite

    Muslim Tranny's United started protesting today,s burqa ban in France saying it wasn't the govt's job to out them.

    April 11, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
  12. Geeta

    I'm not sure what my feeling are on this!
    On one hand if you go to a Muslim country they expect that you should cover your head and not do things that are against Islam so then on that basis should they be forced to do the sane when they visit other countries?? I mean you can't have it your way all the time.

    The other part of me thinks If a lady choses to dress that way let it be ?? Hmm difficult one to make my mind up on this one!

    April 11, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • Brian

      If you are in a Muslim country it is just that, a Muslim country. France is a secular country. Regardless, the Burqa is not a religious custom. It is strictly a cultural custom and predates Islam by hundreds of years.

      April 11, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
  13. Michael Williams

    Can't really pound France for this law if your an American (which I am). After all, the line between state and religion in our nation is.....well let's put it this way. Is there still a line? We are worse with religious tolerance than France, and we would also implement these laws in our country if possible......sadly.

    April 11, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
  14. The_Green_Devil

    Glad to see all you red-blooded Americans support this ban. Real champions of freedom. Next up, getting Hassidim to stop dressing like Amish- and maybe stopping the Amish from dressing like Amish because who knows what they're hiding under those hats- it could be a bomb, and outlaw all those Christians from wearing crosses because one of them could go crazy in public and jam one into somebody's eye.

    April 11, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
    • Ruth

      Neither of those sects hide their faces. Get your facts straight before you comment to save yourself embarrasment.

      April 11, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
    • BentWhale


      April 11, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
    • The_Green_Devil

      So only people who cover their faces commit crimes? Interesting logic. Just curious, was Timothy McVeigh wearing a mask when he blew up the federal building in Oklahoma City? Oh, wait, that's right – he's white and christian, so he's not a terrorist, he's just a good American patriot exercising a slightly more efficient version of a 2nd Amendment solution to the problem of government.

      April 11, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
    • Criticalmind


      All kinds of people commit crimes you are right. Not hiding their faces will make it easier to identify them. You are avoiding the issue. Nobody should be allowed to hide their face IN PUBLIC. At home let them wear whatever they want.

      April 11, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
    • Reason

      @ The_Green_Devil. Then you must support the ban of using scarves or surgical masks to cover your face in public. Tough love if you life in a cold climate or are suffering from a cold.

      April 11, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
    • The_Green_Devil

      Reason- you have my position flipped. If someone want to wear a burqua, it's their choice.

      CriticalMind- Oh, so if we can see someone's face, we can identify potential terrorists. Because we all know terrorist have "I AM A TERRORIST AND ALL INFIDELS MUST DIE DIE DIE ALLAH AKHBAR" tattooed on their faces and we have to be sure we can identify them.

      April 11, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
  15. blondie

    I agree witb Frances ban It IS their country, after all. I know a few Muslims and I can tell you they DD treat women like 2nd class citizens. I have worked for Muslim owned bussines'. I won't go into detail, but never again will i let someone treat me like an animal, belittle me etc. Oh, and i was NOT allowed to wear a cross necklace to work. i was told to either cover it up or stick it down my shirt so it wasn't visible. control freaks. and, the Muslim were allowed to go pray in a storage room, whenever they wanted, get on their magic carpet and pray. Talk about discrimation!

    April 11, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
  16. Toaster

    Freedom is one thing, and up till now (in France) People were free to wear what they want. But when terrorists start blowing themselves up, then being able to identify people becomes more important. AND.. the ban applies to all people, and all religions... I'll bet people would get arrested for not wearing enough clothes too! Considering the percentage of terror attacks perpetrated by Muslims, They bring profiling upon themselves.Muslims need to stop violence by Muslims. They need to police their own.

    April 11, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
  17. Reason

    This is persecution plain and simple. If this ban were strictly for security reasons, then it should be illegal to wear anything that hides your face, like a scarf or surgical mask. These women probably love living in the free world, but now they will learn that the free world is an illusion. If they didn't have a reason to hate western culture before, they do now. People of France, don't give in to your fear. Stand up for freedom, or or put someone named Louise back in charge.

    April 11, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
    • zeda

      In France, they banned all obvious displays of religion. They are a secular country.

      April 11, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • yes

      And the Nazi's rounded up all the Jews and put them in death camps under the guise of security as well......

      April 11, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
    • maggie

      They want the free world on their own terms.

      April 11, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • Chris, FL

      Just curious, what are the rules regarding women travelers in muslim countries? I find it hard to believe that a woman traveling in a muslim country would be free to wear a bikini top and shorts through the streets. So why when in a western country is it such a travesty to request you uncover your face for security? You chose to live in a Western culture, if you don't like it you are free to return to your country of origin. Not that I condone burning Qurans, but why is so reprhensible, when burning a flag is a protest, or burning a bible is ok. Go ahead and burn 1000 bibles, I'm sure Borders would be happy to sell you a 1000 more. A book is a book.

      April 11, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • maggie

      ChrisL makes a very good point. If I were to visit a Muslim country, I would not only be expected to observe cultural rules of dress, irrespective of my own religious beliefs, culture or notions of freedom but I would be required, lest I want a less than happy vacation. The opposite should also be true. If I were that wedded to my religion, why on earth would I go to a Western country that would prohibit me from freely observing it? Doesn't make sense to leave one oppressive culture and to go another that is oppressive for different reasons.

      April 11, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
  18. Luigi

    I would heartily recommend that if you are that strict with your religious customs, return to where you came from and be as free as you would like to wear what you like. In some cultures, hiding your face is just that....hiding.

    April 11, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
    • Joshua Ludd

      Yeah.. I mean, why would they come to the West for something like... freedom?

      April 11, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • Brian

      Wearing a burqa is not a religious custom. It is a cultural custom.

      April 11, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
  19. Sandy

    Excellent! Let's adopt the same rule here in America. I understand that is good and bad in every religion but we are leaving in times when we cannot take any chances. There is lots of places in the Middle East where these women can freely live and wear their veils. Ship them all back there and let France set their laws and rules as they please, as long they are not killing or oppressing any innocent people. Oh by the way , my children are very scared of women wearing a burka, they think is Halloween or something.

    April 11, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
    • Geeta

      I agree my little boy cried when he seen a lady in that attire

      April 11, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
    • Larry

      They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

      Maybe you shouldn't baby you childern so much. Or better yet, use the times like the one you brought to educate your childern about the whole world, instead of the small one you live in.

      In American you are innocent until proven guility, or maybe we have forgotten that along the way with our fears.

      April 11, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
    • Katt

      @ Geeta – seriously? Your kid "cried when he SEEN a lady in that attire"...not only are you showing how closed-minded your poor son's parents are, but you're also showing their ignorance. I wish your son lots of luck in this world with all these cray, non-cookie-cutter people in it.

      April 11, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
  20. Elmo

    No MASKS = No PROBLEM - Simple unless your a radical.

    April 11, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
    • Fuyuko

      succinct and to the point!

      April 11, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • maggie

      Elmo, although I agree with France for other reasons, this is a pretty ignorant response. Jews wear yamulkes in observance of their religious practices. Would it make them radical if they choose not to take them off? Of course not. The bigger point that France is trying to make is that immigrants, particularly from the Middle East and North African countries, already have a difficult time economically because they tend to self-segregate and refuse to assimilate into French culture. We have the same problem here in America. Immigrants from other countries come to the United States in search of a better life and more often, to escape the oppressive culture present in their home countries, only to bring those cultures with them and worse, to insist that we adapt to them, rather than the other way around. Why come to America if you don't want to become an American? That's not to say that you forget where you came from but rather, assimilate into the culture you came to. The refusal to learn English is the biggest problem that I see. The French will not routinely translate road signs, legal forms and all the rest into a myriad different languages as we tend to do and I applaud them for their insistence on maintaining national integrity.

      April 11, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
    • ZeeMan

      Question: what happens if any one wears ski mask in public in France or in America if we ban the burqa as well? Will they be arrested? I agree with the ban's intention, but not sure how practical that is if any one still wants to cover their face in public. The security argument is just plain silly as none of the terrorists, muslim or otherwise, have covered their faces. Apparently they don't see the need, or probably see that as more of a hindrance as that is more likely to bring attention vs. blending in, which is exactly what they did.

      April 11, 2011 at 2:02 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.