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. Rav

    Yes! Finally a European country is taking action against these animals. If other countries don't want themselves to be run over by muslims then I suggest they follow suit. I am tired of these muslims both in America and Europe refusing to integrate themselves into western society when every other culture has done so. Other foreignors willingly participate in the functions of western society while they practice their own culture in their own communities, where it belongs. However, the muslims refuse to change their ways in a rapidly modernizing world. Furthermore, in a post 9/11 world a person who cannot be identified should immediatly be deemed a security threat. Thank you France!

    April 11, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
    • ZeeMan

      @ Rav: absolutely rubbish! I don't know what rock you live under. I am a Muslim and actively participate in our local community, neighborhood, kids school activities. Both my boys are in Boy Scouts of America. I play golf in a league. My wife goes to neighborhood book readings, plays bunco with other women. Muslims are everywhere in American society (except perhaps where you live).

      April 11, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
  2. theman

    I am from france and have several muslim friends, yet I agree with this law for two reasons.

    1.People can't say its an intrusion of freedom of speech/religion to not let women wear the burqa since Islam and the sharia law do not allow women to make a choice in what they wear in public either. So that's prime example of hypocrisy.

    2. If muslims in france do not like this law then they can go back to their home country where the women are allowed to wear the burqa. If you are in a foreign country then you respect the laws of that country. Non-muslim women who want to go swimming in the perisan gulf do NOT wear bikinis. Why? Because it is ILLEGAL there. They don't make a big fuss out of it, they just follow the country's rules and abide by them by hiding their bodies.

    April 11, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
  3. matt

    lol...they look just like the KKK, only in black.

    April 11, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
  4. snickering

    They are hiding those jacked up teeth, let em keep em on

    April 11, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
  5. MM

    If they are free to wear this garb in public then the KKK should be free to wear their garb in public as well. And anyone who wants to go without shirt or shoes or whatever in public should be left alone as well.

    April 11, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
  6. FrenchEric

    Officers can't physically remove the attire. If caught and uncooperative, the person is fined or/and can be arrested for disorderly conduct.
    Should be noted also that this law only applies in "public space" ( streets, stores, administrations...)

    April 11, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
  7. achipotle

    Only undemocratic fascists tell women what to wear.

    April 11, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
  8. Laila

    Why can't other civilized nations make the same laws? That was not a question. Other nations need wake up and help these people catch up to the 21st century. Arab women, stop allowing your men to treat you like this. Stop it. You're more valuable than what these men have told you and what your "religious" books may indicate. You left the middle east thinking things would improve. Well, if you want to live in France: 1) Learn the language and 2) Fit into society. These old customs is what more than likely chased you away from your home countries in the first place.

    April 11, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
  9. aubrie

    While I TOTALLY agree with this law, I also see a lot of women now being subjected to almost "house arrest". They will be forbidden to go anywhere by their male "slave owners" since not only will the woman be arrested, but also the spouse for forcing them to wear it... So in essence they are being punished twice.... I feel so sorry for these poor ignorant women.... to be born into a society like that is worse than a death sentence in my opinion. many aren't even allowed to see a male doctor, and females aren't allowed a profession, so them seeing a female doctor is a moot point. It's all disgusting. I fully support ALL the women who are revolting against this in these middle eastern countries. These men have had the excuse of "uncontrolled lust" for long enough. Grow up and progress into modern men for crying out loud. Act like men instead of Neanderthals.....

    April 11, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
  10. MM

    These women should be treated the same way they are treated in Arab countries. They should not even be seen in public. I don't understand why they would want to live among infidels when the infidel's way of life rubs them the wrong way. Why not go and live an an Arab country where they can live the Arab way of life.

    April 11, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
    • Sarge

      Yeah MM, us infidels are sick of them too. Send some camels over here to pick 'em up.

      April 11, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
    • Sarge

      And by the way, we love our mothers, sisters, wives and daughters and don't treat them like dogs that sit in a kennel all day.

      April 11, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
  11. Ian

    people seem to forget the most important aspect of all of this. Regardless of what people think is right or wrong, what conveys racism or not when you make items or activities crimes that are not really crimes you are breaching the very idea of freedom. These women are wearing clothes that they choose. There is nothing forcing them. The argument is "well some men MAKE them" and while this is true why are we going to punish the majority for the behavior of the minority? Alcohol has a death rate for the UK in 2009 of 8,664 people.. some self induced others killing other people. Based on this statistic for ONE year should we ban alcohol due to the potential harm it can cause? NO, personal choices mean personal responsibility and to make something illegal to "crack down" on unwanted violence or behavior is just laughable,

    April 11, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
  12. David

    I hope we have enough sense in America NOT to make a law like this.

    April 11, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
    • TIM

      I wish we had the guts to do this!!!!

      April 11, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
    • Sarge

      While I doubt anyone with full face coverings is going to cause any trouble, mainly because they are going to draw 100 times more attention by being veiled, I don't think it's fair to the rest of the population that cannot go into a convenience store with a ski mask on because we look like we may rob the place. Why would anyone walk around with a ski mask on? I don't know, maybe because we might want to. But it creates the illusion that you're up to no good. Unfortunately, because of 9/11, every "peaceful" Muslim with all this gear on is targeted as an immediate threat. I don't know what the lesser of two evils would be, for a would be terrorist: To be fully covered, or blend in with everyone else.

      April 11, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
    • ibrahim

      its not about the gut.. its about the ethics first of all, second of all did you know that some of the famous rappers and other famous people are muslim, Lupe Fiasco, K'Naan, an advisor to Obama, Salman Khan, Malcom X, and many others and finally, if the U.S did do that you would have an influx of muslim people leaving the country while Saudi Arabia, a muslim country would most likely stop the flow of oil or sell it at higher prices, Egypt would stop goods to America running through the Suez canal and many other things would happen. Also, America was founded on the freedom of religion.. was it not?...

      April 11, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
  13. jc

    arrest them all and deport them back to where they belong if they do not want to comply!French values,gotta love them!! I'm moving to france!!

    April 11, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
    • David

      Please do. I'll give you my airline miles.

      April 11, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
  14. athought

    rash.... So, you see.... you take offense at my statement about the man in a Speedo but nothing about the woman being covered in holy wear in a POOL!!! It's all about the men with that society. I've lived over there. I've seen how women are treated. I've seen how it isn't considered rude for men to oggle at women who aren't covered up head to toe. When I was eight years old and a 25 year old grown man didn't see anything wrong with telling me he wanted to marry me and followed me around from my bus stop to my house until my dad found out, and my dad contacted authorities and ran the guy off. I was terrified.

    April 11, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
  15. Steve*

    I could not help myself from getting a bit of a laugh when the woman interviewed mentioned the word "revealing."

    April 11, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
  16. karko

    this is so stupid if the rags dont like it there move back to their sand flea country

    April 11, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
    • David

      What an intelligent thing to write. (Please note sarcasm)

      April 11, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
    • TIM

      Karko I agree

      April 11, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
  17. FrenchEric

    FYI, a few years back, a similar law was passed in France banning headscarves and other ostentatious religious signs such as kippas or crosses from public schools. There was a little provocation from radicals at first but soon after things just went fine. 
    In spite of what some of you might think, France has a great deal of experience in dealing efficiently with muslim issues. 

    Which does not mean that the situation is ideal  Just imagine mexicans in southwestern states were muslims and you'll get a pretty good idea of the situation at hand in French big cities and some parts of the country. 

    But once again, most people are reasonnable. A minority of radicals won't prevail.

    April 11, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
  18. GSmith

    So what happens if a woman is caught breaking the law and wearing a Niqab in France? Probably nothing as severe as what would happen if they were caught not wearing it in a country that requires them to wear it.

    April 11, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
    • Dk

      Dear GSmith, I cannot agree with you. If you go to countries, especifally to Saudi Arabia, you can see even non-muslims are forced to wear the veils. if they don't comply, they may be imprisoned, get lashes and financial penalties as well. It again depends on which nationality you are from, the Mullahs will issue the orders accordingly.

      April 11, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
    • jaysunstar

      Uh DK, you just restated the same point that HE was stating.

      April 11, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
    • Rav

      Wear a burqa in France – Get fined and possible jail time.

      Refuse to cover yourself in Saudi Arabia – A fine, jail time, AND get the crap beaten out of you.

      See the difference?

      April 11, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
  19. Dk

    I truly don't why to make such a fuss of this requirement from the government, What they ask is do not cover the face but one can still wear a head scarf. People are protesting like anything over there in Paris. Imagine if one is going to Saudi Arabia then almost all the women has to wear veil. That is enforced. If one violates, then be ready for the lashes and penalties. Can these protesters including libertarians protest in Saudi Arabia that only certain religious groups should be imposed with wearing veils (I think in Saudi it is because of religious requirement). No one protests over there. Btw, I am from Asia, not a french.

    April 11, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
  20. L Tutt

    I understand why the France Goverment would have this law seeing that Muslims hell bent on killing people would use this way of dressing. Also Muslims must understand you may dress that way in your country but the same rule don't apply in other countries.

    April 11, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
    • David

      Your post makes no sense at all

      April 11, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
    • Chris

      David, where I appreciate and sympathise with your obvious disapproval of the new French law... your lack of constructive argument is laughable.

      Simply put, burqas and other related Muslim related garbs strike fear in non-Muslims. No one was to live in fear and the French government is (in a way) protecting the majority of it's citizens. It's unfortunate that a subset of Muslims (extremist radicals) have caused so much grief and created a stigma against peaceful followers of Islam. The French government needs to revaluate their decision on the burqa ban, and ask themselves if they really want let the "terrorists win" and trash freedom of religion by peaceful law abiding citizens.

      April 11, 2011 at 2:59 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.