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. justin

    I think it is completely fair for a government to require it's citizens to be able to be identified through facial recognition. I would be nervous walking into a bank if any person regardless of gender, race, or religion, had their face covered. If you don't want people to see your face then stay home, or move to a country where it is culturally acceptable. This is not a matter of religious freedom. It is a matter of public safety. Public safety should ALWAYS trump personal freedoms such as freedom of religion or self expression.

    Some of the personal freedoms we in America have given up for the greater good and public safety are, concealed guns, speeding, jay walking, slander, most drugs, public intoxication, public nudity, printing our own cash at home, and expressing our religious beliefs in almost any public forum. Oh, and some of us are legally second class citizens because others seem to care so much about with whom we take to bed. Freedom is not absolute, and most definitely not free.

    April 11, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
  2. Vito

    I disagree with the French, but I understand their motives.

    April 11, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
  3. Narsima Rao

    France is the greatest country in the world to do this first. I love France to do this. It is not about religion. It's all about women freedom. As a man, I agree women are better off than men. Their freedom is at our own advantage and progress. I love my wife, daughter, mom and my sister. Their freedom and happiness is a lot to me. First country to stand behind women's freedom. Come on US and all the West, Do something good for those beautiful humans. I love France period.

    April 11, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
    • Brue

      You say it's about women's rights. WRONG. If it were, then the law would be about it being illegal for a man to force a female to wear a burka. Forcing women NOT to wear burkas is the still mashing women's rights. Why? The usual arguement is," Well, if women are forced to wear burkas in mid-east countries, it's against female rights. So that means if a women is wearing a burka anywhere else, that OBVIOUSLY means that she is NOT wearing it of her own free will, right?" WRONG. Have you ever stopped to think that a women in France living in an Islamic neighborhood would be SHUNNED or REJECTED by her neighbors or family members? Have you ever stopped to think that imposing a law that would make any women feel uncomfortable in her own society is NOT EQUAL RIGHTS? Thinking that this law is about female rights is stupid and ignorant.

      April 15, 2011 at 12:45 am |
  4. Victor Castillo

    The Burqa is the most retarded thing I have ever heard of in my life,along with wearing your clothes to the beach.Get with the times,you look like terrorists, or are you just too fat and ugly to show yourselves?Yes that is insulting it was meant to be.I am tired of these outdated religions.In fact I am sick and tired of all religions God does not exist but Satan does.Long live Satan!!!!I say if you are gonna wear those retarded things then maybe you should be wrestlers.You wanna wear masks maybe you wanna be with the WWE?

    April 11, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
  5. hhhhf

    I suggest women don't wear bikini in Saudi Arabia in public, and women don't wear face mask in France in public.
    Fair enough?

    April 11, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
  6. me

    I think it is a good idea- You don't even know if it is a man or woman under that garb!!!!

    April 11, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
  7. Victor Castillo

    Troll?. I love people who talk with catch phrases.how educated?

    April 11, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
  8. michael

    ban christmas and christmas trees in public as well.

    April 11, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
  9. Victor Castillo

    The Burqa is the most retarded thing I have ever heardo of in my life along with wearing your clothes to the beach.Get with the timesw you look like terrorists or are you just too fat and ugly to show yourselves?Yes that is insulting it was meant to be.I am tired of these outdated religions.In fact I am sick and tired of all religions God does not exist but Satan does long live Satan!!!!

    April 11, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
  10. Bill

    As a conservative Republican, I think this French law is total garbage. People should be allowed to dress how they like in public as long as their decently covered (privates aren't showing, etc.). This is obviously an attack on Muslims.

    April 11, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
  11. khan in usa

    I am a Muslim from Pakistan and a very proud American. Does my wife wear a burka, HELL no. Does my mom wear a burka, Hell no. It is more of a cultural thing, not an Islamic requirement. Would Saudi Arabia or any other Muslim country including Pakistan will allow bikinis.
    These typical extremist should really not be living in Western socities if they cannot follow the local laws. It is a French law, hence should be followed accordingly.

    April 11, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
    • john doe

      itneresting comment... if you live in their country and their society, you should follow their laws. people, it really is that simple. if your beliefs and customs don't mesh with the country's laws, then don't live there. you have the right to move someone where else. don't migrate to a country and expect them to change their laws for you beliefs and customs.

      April 11, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
  12. Chris

    If people are unwilling to adhere to the law of the country they migrated too, then by all means pack up your personal belongings and go back to the country you came from. France has every right to enforce laws they believe are detrimental to their way of life.

    April 11, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
  13. Riley Barbour

    Every out there saying "Durka Durka" is just being a pig-headed bigot towards muslims

    April 11, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
  14. Syrni

    You idiots ... Burqa is not dectated by Islam, its burely a cultural thing to some eastern countries. Unbelievable ignorance and pure grudge at part of some you christian

    April 11, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
    • shofar

      Unbelievable ignorance? Actually I doubt that being well verse on the rules and uses of the Burka is what makes you a knowledgeable person. Perhaps nobody hasn't tell you, but in some parts of the world the simple idea of the existence of a Burka is automatically a sing of lack of culture, oppression and plain and simple ignorance.

      April 11, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
  15. kayinde

    I find it ironic that people are complaining about this ban when there is also an article on CNN today as follows:


    If you Muslims don't want your "freedoms" taken away, QUIT BOMBING THE REST OF THE WORLD.

    April 11, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
    • Megan

      Right, because every single Muslim in the whole world bombs people/places. Way to make a generalization. That's like saying all Catholic priests molest children. A$$

      April 11, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
  16. h

    I think rest of the wetern countries should follow the France lead to ban this scary (like Holloween) custom. i am willing to participate paying for their busfair and send them back to their own countries. let's discontiminate our environment. i don't think it is wise to go back to 2000 years ago/ not us pal.

    April 11, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
  17. Cass

    Not sure where I stand here. I think you should have the right to wear what you are comfortable in and I don't think that necessarily means you need to "go back to your country". As some have already stated, those wearing these pieces of clothing could have been born in France and have nowhere to go. I know many Muslim friends of mine that have been born in the US, for example, whose mothers do not wear the hijab but they do, and they have been repeatedly yelled at and harrassed and told to "Go back home", but where is home?

    On the other hand, it IS a security issue. Identification in an age of terrorism is a necessity, and in terms of basic social structure, not being able to see another person you are speaking to is a bit disconcerting. So it's a tough one.

    I guess I would have to say I'm fine with this ban if it's for security reasons but not if it's just b/c you're uncomfortable with Muslims.

    April 11, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
    • shofar

      If the law states it is for security reasons, why are you still stirring the pot with doubts about the "real" reason of the law. It is for security reasons and it is also aimed towards Muslin because they are the one who uses the thing. Nevertheless, if you cover your face in any other fashion, you also are going to jail, why? BECAUSE IT IS THE LAW. Simple

      April 11, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
    • David L.

      It's good to see someone trying to work it out for themselves as opposed to jumping to conclusions. The world would be a much better place if people took the times to think for themselves.

      That being said, I'm going to tell you how you should think (j/k). I've made no secret in these comments that I am vehemently opposed to this ban. I'm also one of those people who avidly fights the use of body scanner's at the airport, and am forced to "opt out" every week when I travel to work. My very issue lies with the fact that we keep relinquishing our liberties in the name of "safety" and "security". It started with the Patriot Act, we now see illegal searches in the airports, and laws being passed governing what people are allowed to wear. Next, we're going to see body scanners on the street, randomly screening people as they walk in to offices, and get on trains, but people keep allowing it, for the sake of safety. When do we put out foot down and say enough?

      April 11, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
  18. nauman butt

    First of all banning of “burka” isn’t even an act of interfering with the religion. I am a Muslim and there is no such rule or requirement to cover the face. To dress modestly is all that has been asked for and that can easily be achieved without a burka.

    But sadly this issue will be taken in so many wrong directions, not because the small minded bigots (who unfortunately were born to Muslim families) love Islam but because they need any reason to create chaos.
    France was never a Muslim country and being non-muslim they have every right to enforce any law. Just like a French woman will not be allowed to wear a bikini in Saudia Arabia so should the same rule be implied to a Muslim living in France.

    And once again they haven’t asked Muslim women to go against their religion or for that matter even commit a slightly non-religious act. All they have asked is to not cover the face for safety issues or themselves and other people. Which I strongly believe is the right thing to do.

    April 11, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
    • Cass

      Thank you for your calm and reasoned response to this. I wish more people would be as understanding as you are.

      April 11, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
    • Rachel

      So, is the Burka a custom then and not required by your religion?? If it's a custom and not sharia, then why do they make such a big deal out of wearing it? Is it a binding custom – meaning not required by religious law, but a custom almost having the status of law?

      April 11, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
    • CHandon

      Regardless of what your interpretation of Islam states, I doubt you believe that every person who wears a burka or any other type of veil does so out of preference and not a sense of religious obligation. Even if this wasn't a Muslim issue, and these people wanted to wear veils because they were in some cult or even if they just felt like it, it is absolutely their right to do so. Wearing a veil is a victimless crime, and I'm not buying the 'its for security argument.' If that were the case, where are we headed next? Should we all wear identification badges whenever in public so that anyone may be identified at any time? This legislation is nothing short of dangerous.

      April 11, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • vineet


      April 11, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
    • David L.

      Regardless of whether the issue is religious (which I understand it's not), or cultural, or whatever, the real foundation lies with the fact that people are allowed to wear what they wish, as long as it doesn't impose on the rights of others. If we keep relinquishing our rights in the name of "safety" and "security," we're soon going to find ourselves stripped of all of our rights. It's started at the airports, and now we're seeing it on the streets, soon enough it'll be in our homes.

      April 11, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
    • mycatsbreathsmellslikecatfood

      best response by far. thank you, butt

      April 11, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
    • john doe

      "should we all wear badges in public to identify ourselves?" well, i wouldn't call them badges, but photo identification that is required of me to show when asked by law enforcement at times is somewhat of a badge to identify myself...

      April 11, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
    • Rachel

      So, is the Burka a custom then and not required by your religion?? If it's a custom and not sharia, then why do they make such a big deal out of wearing it? Is it a binding custom – meaning not required by religious law, but a custom almost having the status of law?

      April 11, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
  19. Cheyenne

    I am so disgusted at how hateful people have been in these comments. Let people believe what they believe. You are as much as the problem as anybody.

    April 11, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
    • adfdf

      I believe in nudity, so I walk around nude on the street, but I keep getting arrested by police.

      April 11, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
    • Vito

      Cheyenne, you are so right. This is disgusting, and any decent person should be embarrassed for them.

      April 11, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • john doe

      the nudity comment really hits your comment hard and disproves it in that you can't just let people do whatever they feel is right because you'll have people walking around naked whenever they want and possibly doing activities on the street corner when they want... but i do however feel that people should use better judgment in how they present their arguments.

      other point, law is law no matter what country you live in. if you don't like the countries law, then leave. i know it may not seem fair but you have no other option. if you don't like it, then leave.

      April 11, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
    • CHandon

      The nudity comment has nothing to do with this debate. No one in their right mind would argue that a burka stand in violation of public decency laws.

      April 11, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
  20. jsdjhffjasdlkf

    durka durka!!!!

    April 11, 2011 at 3:57 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.