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. Gott

    It is really simple, if they do not like the law in France, they can either leave and return to their 3rd world nation or abide by the laws of that nation. It is really a simple philosphy, that applies to all, abide by the law or you will be in violation of such law.
    The liberal press distorts the truth and makes it seem as though these people are being targeted or opressed.

    It amazes me, these people hate the democratic way, yet they leave their 3rd world $#@! hole and flock to every democracy in the free world and then expect that country to not only except their ways but also demand that, that country and its populace (citizenry) change their idoelogies to meet the needs of a select few.

    If they do not like France, leave it and return to your ????????????

    April 11, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
    • strongbadia1765

      Have you not considered that some of these people may be citizens of France? Or beyond that, natural-born citizens? Is the idea of Islam so foreign to you that you think that they are only immigrants?

      And for the record, simply because a law is a law... it doesn't mean it is just. I believe there is a famous quotation by St. Augustine, "An unjust law is no law at all." The logic that just because the law has been passed, that it is just and should be followed is incredibly close-minded. Given that logic, women and blacks should never have wanted the right to vote (should they have gone back to their home country?), gays should not be allowed in the military (you probably agree with that statement, but should they also return to their home country?). Who are you to decide for these people what is the correct way to live their life?

      April 11, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
  2. Ramesh Manghirmalani, California

    agreed-follow the laws or get your ass out

    April 11, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
  3. Just Da Facts

    Some GOOD has actually come from the Ku Klux Klan! It's already illegal for the Muslims to wear masks here in MOST states! Thank the KKK for that!

    April 11, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
  4. Terry

    When in Rome does as the Romans. Strange thing about certain Muslims is that they want to be free, but then when they are given freedom they still cloak themselves in disguise. Why come to the Paris to live and not live like the Parisians. How strange they want to do the same thing in the United States and elsewhere they go live. If they like the lifestyle of torture, second class citizenship as a woman then they should have just stayed where they came from. Men and women have fought and died for the freedoms to live how they choose in their countries and I would especially think that the women of France would feel this a slap in the face to their lifestyle. I know in the United States our women fought hard to be free from totalitarian rule of men and most prefer no expressions of that lifestyle. Be whatever you want, but if you really want that lifestyle go home and live it. As stated in many of the other posts others in the world cannot go to most Muslim countries and be themselves so why should they be allowed to go to Paris of all places and portray that lifestyle of oppression and hate.

    April 11, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
  5. JP

    I wish they would pass this law in Canada. We seem to be taking in anyone with a pulse. Which is ok, as long as they follow are rules and laws. If they have issues with that, stay in your country if you feel we don't honor your religion.

    April 11, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
  6. sue

    The rest of the world is suppose to be giving and tolerant to the the Muslims .
    I don't see the Arab countries or even Pakistan being very tolerant with people of other faiths .

    April 11, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
    • Abusabtain

      For the American people, whole world is just continet N.America. 90% people here live meaningless lives. There is only one life to live. Live your life not the way they want you stuggle for food and to pay your bills whole life. Get the equal rights as the top 10% people has.
      As for the burqa concern, I think Americans or Western do not have any kind of freedom although they preach. If they afraid of burqa, they should be hiding behind their mama's skirt.

      April 11, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
  7. Cubist Tut

    One of the most controversial areas of public discourse is the role of women in Islamic society today. Examples of Islamic sharia (law) that seem to suppress and oppress are those that prohibit a woman from even looking directly into a man’s eyes, that forbid women from wearing shoes that make noise, that forbid them to become educated. A host of laws regarding women are enforced whenever sharia is strictly followed. True, some women willingly hide their bodies in burkas as an act of modesty and faithfulness to Islam. However, when Taliban rule ended in Afghanistan, few women retained the burka.

    April 11, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
  8. Pam

    Even on Holloween, you can't walk into a liquor store with a mask on! It's just common sense. If Muslim women want to belong to a religion that takes all their rights as human beings away, fine. However, we need to be able to identify people. You live in France. Live by their rules. Or go back to the countries that treated you like crap in the first place, where you HAVE to cover up. Apparently women are too shameful to show their faces.

    April 11, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
    • 77Observer

      Burqas no doubt would make me a bit nervous if I were a bank guard.

      April 11, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
  9. Strange1-2

    That is a Burqa? And all this time I thought they were just serious fans of Mutant Ninja Turtles.

    April 11, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
  10. sara

    Next ban, Habits......are they still nuns if they don't wear a habit?

    April 11, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
    • manonfetch

      Last time I looked, a nun's habit does not cover the face. It is the covering of the face, which makes identification impossible, that is given as the main reason for the ban. Also, this law was the will of the majority of French citizens, and the fact is that in any democracy, the will of the majority of citizens is what carries the day. It's not fair to the minority, but then life is not fair. The Muslim community is under attack because of the acts of terrorists who use Islam as an excuse to act like criminals. That's not fair either. Life isn't fair. I hope we find a way to meet the needs of the community to identify citizens and still allow the women of Muslim faith to cover their faces to show their faith. I don't see a way for that to happen, but it's a goal worth working for. Until then, the law of France is the law of France and if people want to enjoy the privileges of being a French citizen, they have to obey the laws. Hopefully, there will come a time when the majority of French citizens no longer feel the need to ban the burqa. But for now, this is the law, and if you can't follow it, move.

      April 11, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
  11. kayinde

    I didn't say that all Muslims were bombers but a very high proportion of bombers are Muslim. The burqa is used to hide criminal activity. I have been told that in Delaware County, PA jails, the corrections officers are not allowed to search women in burqas the way they search non-Muslim visitors. The search is intrusive – opening baby diapers, putting hands down women's pants and bras – but not to this religious group, who take advantage of it to smuggle contraband. I live in an area with a large Muslim population and have been subjected to hate crimes by them – when reaching for an item at my local Save-A-Lot, a woman in a burqa began yelling and calling me a demon because I had blue eyes. I expect to be able to shop at a grocery store in the United States without being threatened by Muslims because I have blue eyes; I expect that ANYONE entering a prison be subjected to the same rules of search, and I expect that governments act to protect us from terrorists and extremist fanatics.

    April 11, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
    • strongbadia1765

      I certainly agree that prisoners should be subjected to the same search regulations as anyone else in order to ensure the safety and security of our prisons. However, I would appreciate it if you cite a reference... as that might be more based on hearsay than actual fact (I don't deny, but I would like some proof).

      I would also contend that Christians, Jews, Hindis, etc. can be just as hate filled and that it has less to do with the religion than it does with the person. I have had Christians from the bible belt cuss me out because I talk too fast, my own mother (a born-again Christian, the same population that touts American exceptionalism, freedom...) has told me I am going to hell numerous times for things that I would not consider a big deal. People who hate just look for a reason to yell... it's not the religion.

      April 11, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
  12. krenz

    If America had a growiing problem with terrorists showing up in burkas, and trying to hide behind "religious freedom", you can bet your butt that banning it would be put on the table.

    April 11, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
    • Just Da Facts

      It's already illegal for them to wear masks here in MOST states! Thank the KKK for that!

      April 11, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
  13. Strange1-2

    If I choose to live in any other country I understand that my dress, manners, habits, etc. must conform to the expectations of my host country. If France doesn't want women wearing Burqas, then either don't wear them or don't come to France.

    April 11, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
    • Jacque

      Most burqa wearing women are French citizens or from former French colonies.

      April 11, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
    • Strange1-2

      And, if I were a former French colonial, I would either go without the Burqa or stay in the former colony.

      April 11, 2011 at 11:27 pm |
  14. beee double yew

    Can the French still wear Halloween costumes?

    April 11, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
    • pfoneill

      Sweetie ....Halloween is only celebrated in North America.

      April 11, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
    • manonfetch

      Does France celebrate Halloween? And if so, isn't Halloween just one night? Hardly the same as covering the face every day of the year. And it is the law of France. If a non-Muslim French citizen lived in a Muslim country, they would have to obey the laws of that country. Why should Muslim citizens of France not have to obey the laws of France?

      April 11, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
  15. hhhhf

    Which one has more bad laws Saudi Arabia and many other countries in the Middle Eastern part or France?

    April 11, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
    • Jordy

      The question isn't who's laws are worse, the fact of the matter is that France, knows and understands what injustice is, and should continue to be an example of that. Banning any religious material is unacceptable regardless of the reason, or extent.

      April 11, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
  16. beee double yew

    Muslims have hijacked the planet and stolen all freedom lovers innocence.

    April 11, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
  17. krenz

    Be serious RASHEED. Disturbed the peace of the world. Muslims are klilling muslims at a rate unheard of in the history of the world. Its getting so that anywhere you find muslim populations, there is NO peace. What are you going to say if France's decision to exercise their right to pass any law they like, "incites riots and more killing among muslims? Gonna blame that on someone else? the west? That argument is getting old as hell. People are starting to see whati slam is all about.

    April 11, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
    • strongbadia1765

      Muslims are killing muslims at a faster rate than anywhere in this history of the world? I'm sorry... I'm not sure what rate you are talking about. Are you saying this is the fastest anyone has killed a group of people (because you would be markedly wrong, try 1/3 of the Jewish population wiped out in the 1930s and 1940s), or that Muslims are not killing themselves at a faster rate than before (which I don't believe is 1) true, or 2) a point at all)?

      Secondly, a country does not have the right to pass any law it wants. For hyperbole's sake (they are not comparable in extremism, but it proves your premise false) are you saying that a country has the right to pass a law making slaver legal, or a law stating that Jews can be killed simply for being Jewish? Human rights apply, and we are allowed to criticize governments for making laws that are unjust and not within the right of any government or society to pass.

      Now, whether or not the current law in France denies basic human rights is certainly up for debate. But your points are summarily invalid for this argument.

      April 11, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
  18. Nyarlathotep

    Vive la France et vive la republique seculaire!

    April 11, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
    • KSmitty

      actually... the French have an even more secular version for what their country is. "Secular" isn't quite a strong enough translation.. They say laïque or laïcité.

      April 11, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
  19. Lisa Mitchell

    GOOD FOR FRANCE~ My right to religious freedom end when I pass any border of my own country!

    April 11, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
    • Jacque

      Doesn't make any sense... They are in their own Country! Most are French citizens. I do agree that no one should display religious symbols in public for no good reason...

      April 11, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
  20. borg

    Hm! They certainly take fashion seriously in France.

    April 11, 2011 at 4:36 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.