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. NickSarkozyII

    Am I the only one who's having a laugh at this entire debate? I do so love the bigotry and lunacy that religion causes, as so many have said above this law has nothing to do with religion and never did. It is a safety issue and there are many others pertaining to certain head coverings all around the world but because these other laws don't relate to or effect religion there is no argument and they are generally take at face value and accepted. It is astounding how socially crippled the religious community is and not just Islamic people you Christians are just as bad, I read a comment above that a woman from New York posted about how she feels persecuted for being a Christian, the solution is simple keep your ancient and ignorant beliefs at home where they should be or you deserve persecution. However I haven't even mentioned the best part of this, this argument keeps going back to religious freedom which all the thinking people here have agreed its not related to. They repeatedly state that it is a violation of freedom of religion. Freedom of religion is a written right in the United States, It is an implied but never explicitly stated right in France and in my country respectively, this means if the government wants to restrict your religious freedom there is nothing stopping them. So I motion that all religion be outlawed for the benefit of mankind as a whole.

    April 11, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
  2. Sal

    Islam is not a religion, it is an evil cult! 

    April 11, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
  3. Salvador

    I felt proud that someone in Europe is standing up. There is still a majority in one Euro country that believes a nation means something and is worth making a stand for.
    Its not about religious freedom, France knows from long struggle with the catholic church that you don't need physical props to be with god.
    In other words, hey already had their fill with medieval cults.

    April 11, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
  4. Fair is Fair

    Quite simply it should be mandatory that any religious Islamic women (or other religions with "dress codes") who emigrate to a "western" country respects, observes and assimilates to that country's cultures and THEIR society. After all if western women travel to Islamic countries it IS mandatory for them to cover up. Why should a double standard be tolerated when they move to western countries? If they have a problem with that, then let them remain in or return to their own native countries. Period. Enough cow-towing to them. The French have it exactly right.

    April 11, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • David L.

      What happened to America as the country to come to to escape tyranny? Shouldn't they be able to come to our sanctuary and dnjoy our freedoms, the freedoms that built this nation? What you're proposing is that since they are tyrannical, we should be too. And OUR country's culture and society has always been that of acceptance and tolerance to beliefs. I grew up in middle class, predominately white, suburban neighborhood. When I go to "China-town" or "Polish Village", they aren't conforming to MY culture and MY society, so they're wrong? Should they all be forced to open up Starbucks instead of traditional shops? Should they all be forced to wear J. Crew, and speak perfect midwestern English? You're just fearful of what you don't understand.

      April 11, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
  5. Bruno B.

    if a woman over there uses a mini skirt she would be stonned!! but in europe if we want to see your face so i now who i am dealing with its call racist gimme a break

    April 11, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
  6. Nasreen Masood

    It just shows how the word "freedom" is distorted in Western World. The way the Religious dictators are pushing the women population in Middle East by making law how a women should be dresses, the same way the western democracy is dictation how a women should reveal themselves in public.

    It is the choice and right of a woman how she likes to be dressed in public places. It will be decided by her cultural background, religious commitment, but mainly by her conscience guided by her intellectual. This is the act of fanatic marketing people who market women as a commodity for promoting their product.

    April 11, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
  7. Dave

    I think we're overlooking a valid, if not obvious point. Maybe, just maybe, many of these women who are required to wear the full burqa by their husbands are just not attractive in terms of todays standards. The husband, or even the woman herself might not want the general public to see what she looks like out of shame and embarrassment. It's certainly understandable since many Middle Eastern women naturally have quite a bit of facial hair. Perhaps replacing the burqa with an electrolysis machine in each applicable household would solve the whole problem. #beards

    April 11, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
  8. raj kanna

    these islamic people are simply creating an excuse to commit terrorize activities. i'm not against any religion here, but if you were to make your face hidden, you are allowing others to pretend to be in burqa and commit criminal activities. religion should not be an excuse to ban burqa. use your common sense people!! for God sake, can anyone tell me why this religion is so complicated?

    April 11, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
  9. Walter

    80% of the French population agrees with this decision. It is controversial to only a small percentage of the population.

    April 11, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
  10. Ralph

    Arab women are so ugly they should pass a law requiring them to cover their faces.

    April 11, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
    • chuck

      Like your mother they have to cover their faces. You are an ass.

      April 11, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
  11. Gregory

    I agree with the no mask law because (as previously stated) criminals wear masks to conceal their idenity.

    April 11, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
  12. dave

    If they don't like the laws they can go home. nobody's stopping them, but in typical assbackwards Muslim fassion they complain instead because that's all they know how to do. Complain and blow themselves up. I say screw them and their stupid religeon.

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

      France got this one right,... If I can't build a Church in Mecca and my wife can't walk the streets of Riyad without a rag over her face, without disrespecting the idiot Muslims, then they should abide by the French law. France is free and if they dont like it, they can go back to the Sand People....

      When in Rome,... do as Romans do... so the saying goes.

      April 11, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
  13. peter

    its funny how islamic countries can do whatever they want and have strict rules but when another country decides to have some rules, all of sudden its a big deal and is prejudice. France can do whatever it wants to do as far as banning things and so forth. The real issue is the effect that religion has on this world and if there was no religion the world would truly be a better place, still would have problems but at least one would be gone. Believing in god is fine as i do, but religion is a crock and is way too influential on many people and is really what should be banned.

    April 11, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
    • Bruno B.

      Amen!!!! that is right if a woman over there uses a mini skirt she would be stonned!! but in europe if we want to see your face so i now who i am dealing with its call racist gimme a break

      April 11, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • David L.

      Why do you people keep using this assinine argument? "They are oppresive towards us if we come over there, so we should be oppresive to their people if they come over here." Whatever happened to the westernized culture being the answer to tyranny. You propose we model our laws after theirs? You can easily say this because this in no way affects you, but one of these days, if they keep going the route they're headed in, we'll see what they say when they don't allow priests to wear robes, or Jews to wear yarmulkes. We're on a slippery slope, and if other western countries follow the French example, then you're soon going to see a society that looks a lot more like the tyrannical societies of the middle east, than the freedom loving society we've all grown to love.

      April 11, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
  14. Dan

    Religion bothers me in general but why do these women put up with the humiliation of wearing a burqa?

    April 11, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
  15. Sal

    Most muslims are not terrorists but almost all terrorists are muslim! So what does that tell you. Another problem that I have with them is that their allegiance is to that damn religion of theirs and not to this country! Insult mohammed and they want to kill you! Too fanatical! Religion is the cause of most of the world's problems today. 

    April 11, 2011 at 1:33 pm |

      How about colonization, pillage,genocide in the name of "God"?

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

      Something this century would be a more appropriate argument Latin Sock Puppet.

      April 11, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • David L.

      Your statement isn't even a little true. There are thousands of Irish "terrorists" and Russian "terrorists". There are terrorists all over the world, its just easy to demonize something you don't understand.

      April 11, 2011 at 2:50 pm |

    It looks like the French prefer THONGS, eh? They are not fool, are they?

    April 11, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
  17. Erik

    How can so many of my fellow Americans support such an attack on individual freedoms? Shame on all of you! For when our dystopian future arrives you will have been in the front of the crowd clapping as it was ushered in.

    (Anyone with 2 brain cells that they dedicate to critical thinking can easily arrive at the conclusion that "security" is a false premise for this abuse of civil liberties.)

    April 11, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • AZmadness

      The sheep in France and America have much in common it seems....both driven to insanity due to fear and panic

      April 11, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
    • stewar26

      Wait, everytime a friend of mine goes to iraq she has to wear one of these because it is culturally necessary. But you wanna pitch a fit because another country necessitates the same courtesy? Even here in America at most banks/airlines/courthouses you're asked to remove anything obstructing your face for security reasons. Chill out, it's not that big a deal. I've been in Israel where armed guards checked every bus while crossing borders and we each had to have a conversation with them just to prove we were american tourists.

      April 11, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
    • Freemaan


      April 11, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • Freemaan

      Stewar, the people affected by this ban are not tourists, but residents.
      They might as well ban the Yamaka next.

      April 11, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
    • David L.

      I'm trying to figure out how to post this comment on Facebook, I like it so much. Well put Erik!!!

      @stewar26, I spent about 5 minutes typing up a point by point argument to what you said, trying to point out how baseless it is. I got tired, and figured its not worth the time.

      April 11, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
  18. Moaning

    In the Middle East, women are forced to wear these outfits. The are also segregated from men at most social functions, are not allowed to be in public with a man who is not her husband or a relative or have an affair with another man. They also cannot drive. So they leave the Middle East and come to Europe or North America for more freedom. They can now mingle in public with other men, drive a car, sit with others in public have an affair but stll want to wear a burqa or niqab???? I don't get it.

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

      Me neither

      April 11, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • Dan

      I know. I've never understood the scores of immigrants fleeing Europe's fanatical churches to see refuge in America. Most of them not only kept their cultural traditions intact, but also continued to be practicing Christians in the new world. That is really, really strange!

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

      I could be wrong, but I don't think they are asking your approval or if you get it.

      This is such a dangerous problem with my fellow Amurikans. We are so arrogant that we really and truly think people care about our opinions on their customs and whether or not we "get it." In fact, we go to war of stuffing our beliefs down peoples throats.

      April 11, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
    • James

      They leave the Middle East to spread Jihad.

      April 11, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
  19. Calm Dog

    Oct 20, 2008 ... A bearded man, apparently a suicide attacker, tried to board a plane wearing a burqa.
    Mar 17, 2010 ... Two male suicide attackers dressed in burqas were shot dead in Afghanistan.
    Jun 22, 2010 ... A suspected German al-Qaeda member wearing a woman's burqa was detained in Pakistan.
    Aug 11, 2010 ... A man wearing a burqa robbed a Maryland bank.
    Etc. Etc. Etc.
    Unfortunately, this is the world we live in now. I think Maybe France got it right.

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

      Why don't you how a similar list with people wearing ski masks? I guarantee you it will far dominate the one you just created. Better ban ski masks!!! Please use your brains people!

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

      O RLY?

      Sounds like I was wrong telling that Barnacle Bill guy that HE was an diot.

      Looks like *I* am the idiot!

      April 11, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • Erik

      Why don't you have a similar list for people committing similar acts wearing ski masks? I guarantee you it will be orders of magnitude larger than the list you just created. Better ban ski masks!!! Please use your brains people!

      April 11, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • D

      You missed the 9/11 hijackers who were wearing dress pants and tucked in shirts, the Arizona shooter who wore jeans and a t-shirt, and the VA Tech lunatic who wore black pants and a black tshirt...ban all of that too?

      April 11, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • raj kanna

      you are absolutely right!! i was about to say that! these people are ridiculous!

      April 11, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
    • Eric

      Um, you cant wear a Ski mask in public either retard.

      April 11, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
  20. Carlos C

    I'm Roman Catholic myself, and I think that it is absolutely crazy for a woman to think that she should completely cover her face from head to toe at all times or go hide in another room when men are present. It's nuts, in my opinion, but it is their religion and the government shouldn't infringe on that fundamental freedom.

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

      your being catholic fits well with you stupid comment about their religious freedom

      April 11, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • Reason

      @chief. If you're going to post a comment calling someone stupid, check your grammar before posting.

      April 11, 2011 at 2:26 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.