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. Pat Slonden

    Aside from the religious/sociological/political/security-related issues, this is an interesting legal case, as those people who want the veil immigrated BEFORE this law was enacted (many did so before it was a glint in Sarkozy's eye). Under more straightforward contracts (say employment or being admitted to a university etc) when rules are changed in a major way people who entered under the old rule would be grandfathered and any new people would be subject to the new rules. Clearly it is impossible in this case to have something as major as a dress code apply to some people (existing residents) and not to others (new immigrants) thus the discussion. Interesting (but not unprecedented - read Turkey's dress reform in the mid 1920's).

    April 11, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
  2. barbara

    The only ones to object to this law are Muslim women... Go back to your own country. Many women who say they way the hijab freely, would be beaten if they said otherwise.

    April 11, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
    • timothyn

      @barbara: you are making assumptions based on what you see on foxnews without any facts. Have you ever even spoken to any muslims?

      April 11, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
    • MSfromCA

      Timothyn – have I ever spoken to a Muslim woman wearing a full veil and moo moo in public? No. Have you? Something tells me that talking to one would not be taken too kindly if I can't even look at their face or outline. Walking around in this thing is just as offensive in our culture and walking around in short shorts would be in theirs.

      April 11, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
  3. Moon

    wow, I can't believe the number of ignorant, intolerant, shallow comments made by so many of you. I'm sure glad not to be a part of your American culture.

    April 11, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
  4. llatpoh

    Viva la France!! France should be commended for calling a spade a spade. Finally, a western country without the cultural apologists in charge... France got it right – the burka is not about religion, it is a POLITICAL statement – walking billboards promoting Islamic/sharia law and gender apartheid. We can only hope that all other Western nations – where women are full citizens and have equal rights – will follow France's courageous example.

    April 11, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
  5. MSK

    May the God of Jews, Christians and Muslims take revenge from whoever enacted, supported and implemented this law, this is a pure violation of religious freedom if any.God show them your revenge and help those women in this hardship.

    April 11, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
    • stejo

      The God of Christians isn't into the whole revenge thing – more into the "turn the other cheek" thing. Unfortunately, most Christians aren't so into that.

      April 11, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
  6. jmsdh

    Look, folks, there are all sorts of things you can do to make yourself hard to recognize. You can paint stripes across your face like football fans, go out in an old-fashioned Victorian veil, wear an artful disguise like that young Chinese guy on an airplane did to look like an old white man, wear stage make-up to look like a completely different person, or wear a mask fitted to your face that makes you look like someone else. Of course you can go the permanent, plasit surgery route too. So why are Middle Eastern burqa-wearing women getting picked on? Maybe because they're Middle Eastern burqa-wearing women?

    April 11, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
  7. MSfromCA

    A few years back some prisoners in CA started a new religion. It called for steak and whiskey every Friday and extra conjugal visits from the wives and girlfriends. The prison refused and it went up the court system and was eventually thrown out. Religion isn't an excuse to do whatever you want, or even worse, force others to do what you want.

    April 11, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
  8. ATLdoogie

    I have a different perspective.........all women over 150lb should be REQUIRED to wear a burqa!

    April 11, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
    • LOB

      Apparently all women should be short too. At my height, if I were only 150 pounds I would be emaciated. Grow up, Napoleon.

      April 11, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
  9. Ed Ward II

    They'll ban it now but in a few years when the Islamists take over, the veil banners will be beheaded and so will YOU!

    April 11, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
    • timothyn

      Although dramatic, you do bring about an important point. Based on population growth, Muslims will be majority in France by 2050. Perhaps they can pass laws then to force others to wear the veils - afterall, the Government can enforce what we wear or not wear right? I feel like France has set a bad precedent and only emboldened the extremists arguments.

      April 11, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
  10. HOWARD

    By the time all the Muslim women are beheaded, veils will no longer be a problem.

    April 11, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
  11. barbara

    If you don't want to abide by a country's secular and social customs, then don't move there. If I moved to a Muslim country and didn't want to wear the burqa... how far do you think I'd get trying to change their laws, rules?

    April 11, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
  12. Tim

    I think it's very sad when any government needs to be involved in policing what we wear...does it really matter what we wear? Come on, what we are wearing or not does not determine if we are good or bad people. I have to align myself with the people of Muslim faith...even though I am Christian, I believe the basis of the Muslim faith and it is inheritently good. Don't paint all people with the same brush, Christians also have a bad history...it's all about knowing and respecting each other as individuals.

    April 11, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
    • timothyn

      @Tim: very well said.

      April 11, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
  13. Becca

    France is starting down a slippery slope and any other government that follows their lead will also be on a slippery slope. Once you allow your government to ban aspects of one religion you are essentially telling them it is okay to target other religions. How long will it be before certain Christian groups are targeted because they don't fit the social norms of the country? Perhaps it will be because their views are too fundamentalist or not fundamentalist enough. What about atheists–when will they be targeted because they fail to fit into what is considered to be the norms of a Christian nation? Are you going to be okay with your government banning crosses or symbols associated with Wiccans? It's easy to support something like this when you are not the target of the laws. The story changes when you are the target.

    April 11, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
    • sisi

      No one else is covering their face retard!

      April 11, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
    • Adam

      Good, I'm glad France is doing this. Religion is evil and must be stopped everywhere. And not just Islam, all religion must be stopped. For too many centuries, mankind has been duped by the greatest myth ever: GOD. Get over it, there isn't one, therefore all their "teachings" should be abandoned and let people live the way they wish. Without religion, there would be no more wars, we could all live in peace.

      April 11, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
  14. John

    ..."I've not committed a crime," said Hind Amas. "I'm walking peacefully in the street. I've not attacked anyone."...
    Well, if I decide to walk nude on the streets I can state the same, except the first part – It is against the law, same as wearing burqa in France. After all how screwed up your mind should be to think this behavior is OK?
    We don't allow the BDSM people to walk on the streets with their outfits and masks, but from other hand we don't care what they do in their private lives. Same applies here – wear what you want at home, at the mosque etc., but in public – please don't impose your beliefs to others so insolently. Wear a headscarf – we will all understand that you are Muslim if this is the point.

    April 11, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
  15. Amber

    Does anyone else think of Star Wars when you see them?

    April 11, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
    • kk

      "These are not the droids you are looking for..."

      April 11, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
    • Mr. Skywalker

      lol – yes they are Jawas!! I have not thought of them since I was back on my planet. hahahahahaha

      April 11, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
  16. susan

    I am an american muslim and i totally agree with the law just recently passed in France. It is not written that a muslim woman should cover herself in complete veil, she can willfully observe hijib which is the covering of the hair only not face!!! Each person must be idenified and so this is well within legal limits to request. If a muslim chooses to go beyond what is expected then that should not be a reflection of every muslim woman!!!

    April 11, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
    • timothyn

      So, you think the French Government should be the authority on how Islam be practiced? Perhaps they will start restricting other things soon too. You do realize that in France, laws have also recently been passed that prevent women that wear even headscarves from going to public schools? As a Muslim (which you claim), how can you agree with that?

      April 11, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
    • Noah

      susan? yeah..thats so muslim sounding... right

      April 11, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
  17. WVLady63

    NO ONE is telling these women that they can't practice their religion, they are just being told that you are in our country and you must obey our laws just like the rest of us. Duh. That is what is wrong with America, we have laws that aliens and illegal aliens and foreigners DO NOT WANT TO OBEY. These people come into our country and tell us what they will and won't do and since we are totally awash in "political corectness," "we the people," ALWAYS COME IN SECOND. CONGRATULATIONS FRANCE FOR MAKING THESE PEOPLE OBEY YOUR LAWS!!!

    April 11, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
    • timothyn

      Obeying laws is important.. but this is a law that is NEWLY passed to target a minority. Many of these people were born in france and were already living there when no such law existed. Please, use some common sense.

      April 11, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
    • Kevin

      Just because it is a law doesn't mean it is justifiable. At one point segregation was legal and the law of the South. Should the blacks be criticized for protesting laws?

      April 11, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
    • Ricky L

      I think it targets the clothes, Timothy, not the minority.

      Anyone could be wearing the burka.

      April 11, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
    • Noah

      What? If they are French citizens, they are in their country. What part of it do you not get. Oh wait. you are another hillbilly from WV.

      April 11, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
    • MJ

      So agree .. Should they choose to practice rituals in their own country than "let it be". They would not tolerate foreigners not complying with their laws, nor should we! Wake up America! This "PC" mentality is beyond stupid.

      April 11, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
    • hayfield

      Segregation is no longer legal, now it's time to dismantle the muslim discrimination against their own women and the rest of the civilized world.

      April 11, 2011 at 8:50 pm |
  18. LM

    this law is just, theists and their crazy religious practices should be banned wherever they can be

    April 11, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
  19. FrenchEric

    There are many muslims in france  and many issues involving muslim rites and western culture ( headscarves, food in public schools, mixity in public swimming pools, women checked by male mds un public hospitals...).  
    For the most part, we get along ok but radicals take advantage of our civil liberties. 
    But don't worry, we're not gonna give up our hedonistic, tolerant way of life to please them. 

    April 11, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
  20. crabman

    their country their rules u s should take note

    April 11, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
    • Steve

      If they don't like it... Leave. Live where you're primitive faith is tolerated.

      April 11, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41
About this blog

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.