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. TheAgnostic

    Reading all these comments is enlightening. I see both a hatred for Islam, and a ridiculous belief that Christianity is better. I got news for you, folks. They are both nothing more than religious ideologies made up by men over the millennium. Religion is absurd. Belief in a deity is to abandon any effort at rational thought. It is the feeble attempt of a finite mind in it's efforts to grasp the infinite. It is the hope that when we "shuffle off this mortal coil", to quote the Bard, that there is something more than just the lights going out forever. But maybe that's just what it is going to be in the end.

    So wear your burka's, receive your communion, fall on your knees and pray to your god. If it makes you feel better, go for it. It won't make a difference in the end. Blind faith, in any religion, will not work. We all have brains and intellects, limited though they may be, me included, that allow us to ask questions, think through issues, and come to a rational, logical decision that we can live with for the rest of our lives. “Faith... Must be enforced by reason...When faith becomes blind it dies.” Mahatma Gandhi. The leap of blind faith when you don't use your intellect is a leap into the abyss.

    No, I am not an atheist. I neither believe, nor do I disbelieve in any deity. I'm just amused by the masses following regligions that do nothing but lead to trouble.

    Just a thought.

    April 11, 2011 at 9:32 pm |
    • Kay

      Not believing in God makes you an athiest, just so you know...

      April 11, 2011 at 9:46 pm |
    • TheAgnostic

      Kay, you didn't read my post. I said I neither believe, nor do I disbelieve in a god. You took only the former part of my statement that I don't believe in a god. But the latter part says that I don't disbelieve. Does that make me a believer? Figure it out.

      April 11, 2011 at 11:00 pm |
  2. sunshine

    Viva la France! Hope America is next! To drive down the street and see men in wrapped rags on their heads makes me wonder what country I am in. When we go to the Arab countries the women have to wrap their head up, so therefor when the Arab women live here they should have to unwrap. So the Arab men too!

    April 11, 2011 at 9:30 pm |
  3. jmsdh

    Studious, The same thing happened to me. I couldn't think of a single word that caused me to get moderated. I changed a post around twice and was still moderated. Now I wonder if "moderated" gets you moderated. Only one way to find out...

    April 11, 2011 at 9:27 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 9:25 pm |
  5. Nonyaz Bizz

    France never claimed that they were a free country in any way at any time

    April 11, 2011 at 9:25 pm |
  6. gemela


    April 11, 2011 at 9:21 pm |
  7. hungryandoutraged

    The French definitely have some balls to have enacted this law. I say good for them. They are fiercely protective of their culture, and they are offended by the burqua in their home country. If the roles were reversed, we wouldn't get welcome treatment from Muslim people. For instance, if I decided to travel to the Middle East, it would be totally inappropriate for me to walk around in shorts and a tank top. I would be expected to conform to the local culture, by dressing appropriately. If I didn't like it, I wouldn't decide to live there. Freedom of religious expression is one thing, but public safety is another. In Western culture, it's not OK for faces to be completely obstructed – try wearing a ski mask into a bank and see how that goes over. This is not about the Muslim religion or repression; it's about being able to determine the customs in your OWN COUNTRY. You know.... when in Rome.

    April 11, 2011 at 9:20 pm |
  8. jmsdh

    There are two issues here. One is about Muslims. The other is about freedom of expression in the law, which either everyone gets or no one. You can't cherry-pick your freedoms. This law is in France but all the Americans posting on the subject are wondering what it would be like if the U.S. had the anti-burqa law. I say, careful what you wish for if you want to restrict religious and cultural freedom. Face it, the U.S. is becoming more secular and fewer people belong to organized religions. So if you're a Muslim-hating Christian, you wouldn't want the government to prevent your public displays of piety "for your own good" and because they say it "spreads ignorance," now would you?

    April 11, 2011 at 9:10 pm |
    • Kay

      Ummm... Christians aren't allowed to pray on federally owned property...

      April 11, 2011 at 9:44 pm |
  9. Calm Dog

    There have been many instances of men, disguised in burqas as women, attempting suicide attacks in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Germany, and elsewhere. In the United States, Mormons were prevented from having multiple wives even though their religion was fine with it – because it violated civil laws, not because it involved religious persecution. I think France got this one right.

    April 11, 2011 at 9:06 pm |
    • tru tru

      Totally agree. Puts things in the right perspective with the example of mormon religious customs. Also, keep in mind their religion has not in any way promoted the use of violence to impose their beliefs.

      April 11, 2011 at 9:43 pm |
  10. gemela

    It is true there is a SUPREME CREATOR of our UNIVERSE and all kinds of RELEGION where created on how we worship and this is a GOOD EXCUSE who ever wrote those books on how we have to behave but ... WHY WOMAN are treated like a SECOND CLASS PERSON??? IS THIS PERSON WHO EVER WROTE THOSE BOOKS HATE WOMEN????? _HE MUST BE GAY.....WE are all HUMAN BEINGS and EQUAL without women there is no CIVILZATION .WHY THERE IS A DOUBLE STANDARD FOR MEN??????

    April 11, 2011 at 9:05 pm |
    • BnB

      Well as your own god, are you going to make yourself wear a burqa or blow up others?

      April 11, 2011 at 9:10 pm |
    • Kay

      You maybe should try spell check next time... it really works...

      April 11, 2011 at 9:43 pm |
  11. Will

    So, why not ban Yakima's or other Religious Items such as the cross. I mean, a lot has been name of Jesus too. By displaying fear they let the radicals win and further arm them. Now they can just say look at france look how they hate Islam.

    April 11, 2011 at 9:04 pm |
    • BnB

      Yeah, those words will hurt but they won't kill with any hidden bombs huh?

      April 11, 2011 at 9:10 pm |
    • krenz

      They were saying that anyway. They always turn anything into hatred for islam.

      April 11, 2011 at 9:40 pm |
    • krenz

      Muslims claim that everybody hates them. I diidnt. Until they did hateful things. I hate how they are painting them selves as victims, even when they are victims of their own actions....Surprise!

      April 11, 2011 at 9:42 pm |
  12. Foreal89

    Great law these people are a cancer to any society and offer nothing but complaints, terrorism, and arrogance.

    April 11, 2011 at 9:03 pm |
  13. Jez

    These women look like shapeless blobs in those jokes-of-an-outfit. That's the way their culture wants it. Pathetic.

    April 11, 2011 at 9:02 pm |
  14. SteveG

    Ridiculous. People should be free to dress however they wish. Will they outlaw Jews wearing yarmulkes next? What about a woman who wraps a scarf around her face? What if a man wants to walk around in a burqa? Is that illegal too? This is persecution, pure and simple. These women are not being forced to wear burquas. They are choosing to do so. In a supposedly free country, that should mean something.

    April 11, 2011 at 8:56 pm |
    • BnB

      I say take a stroll down a Paris street and see if the reason there is a law isn't because the burqas are a problem... a ticking time bomb but that would be pun-ishment! 😉

      April 11, 2011 at 9:09 pm |
  15. rinsac

    Well, French Fries aren't good for me anyway and California wine has become superior to French anyway. I can't think of anything French I really need anymore. They are sadly and ignorantly zenophobic. I have no desire to support them in any way by travel or buying any French products. If a woman choses to veil herself it is her choice and she should be allowed to do so. It really hurts no one. The French have a history of trying to prevent any change in the culture, language or customs. What that fail to realize is that is is not only sad but impossible. it is the natural way of things. It usually enriches the culture it is effecting as well.

    April 11, 2011 at 8:54 pm |
    • BnB

      Wow... do you not read any daily or weekly headlines? The burqa folks go boom... Here's to you wearing your wine while sitting purposefully in ignorance... how many die in the name of a particular religion each week for you to step into reality?

      April 11, 2011 at 9:07 pm |
  16. ray

    The people in question want us to tolerate them, and their customs like their head and face covers but they do not tolerate us including but not limited to Christians,Jews, buddahs, aethists, jehovss witnesses, Hindus, etc etc etc etc. Better not even whisper to the Muslim world that a woman should have some rights of her own or you will be stoned!

    April 11, 2011 at 8:52 pm |
  17. Jo

    Those things are unhealthy, if unattractive. Children born to women who are covered in a burqua all the time suffer from Vitamin C deficiencies. Maybe that's why Muslim men always seem to be so angry. It's a birth defect from their mothers being hidden away from the sun all the time. Just sayin'...

    April 11, 2011 at 8:39 pm |
    • Jo

      I meant Vitamin D deficiency...

      April 11, 2011 at 8:40 pm |
    • Rhonda

      Children born to a woman in a burqa don't really know who their mother is.

      April 11, 2011 at 9:26 pm |
  18. Marsha

    Good! Would they not scream if we all wore ski masks?

    April 11, 2011 at 8:38 pm |
    • ChipsHandon

      Agree. I once visited Alaska and there were several people wearing all sorts of weather related face veils. It was very frightening and I ended up offering my wallet to several passer byers in exchange for my life. Most of them just looked confused. Better safe than sorry!

      April 11, 2011 at 9:09 pm |
    • hamza

      i feel the even more scared of "modern" french women having showers naked with their teenage children,sons included.

      April 11, 2011 at 9:37 pm |
    • ijreilly

      @ Brandon–Not dogging you man, but for future reference, I believe it's passers-by.

      April 11, 2011 at 9:38 pm |
    • ijreilly

      I mean @ ChipsHandon

      April 11, 2011 at 9:39 pm |
  19. GrumpyYankee

    Vive la France!

    April 11, 2011 at 8:21 pm |
  20. David

    Good for France. This is what I call common sense. Those opposed can go elsewhere.

    April 11, 2011 at 8:18 pm |
    • hamza

      no law against walking half-naked around,it is a great pleasure to come home and kiss a wife that has slept with 30 or 50,or more,guys in her lifetime.

      April 11, 2011 at 8:43 pm |
    • ChipsHandon

      Agree. I don't want to live in a world where personal liberty and freedom to practice religion as I see fit takes precedence over the frightening prospect of Muslim women being able to appear anonymously in public.

      April 11, 2011 at 9:07 pm |
    • Stewart

      Good for france? Why? The French are morons in general. Imaging your religion required you to wear a pink pin on a daily basis. Would you be cheering them on when they banned the wearing of pink pins? What if they banned housewives and required all women to work, or leave the house? Would that be ok with you? While some of the women wear these burqas do so because their husbands force them to, many of them wear it because they genuinely believe in their religion. Once any county starts restricting religious beliefs that harm no one outside of the followers, they're only a step away from complete dictatorship.

      April 11, 2011 at 9:15 pm |
    • Myles

      Wonder if they ever heard of Rosa Parks. OOOPS, wrong Bill of Rights...

      April 11, 2011 at 9:32 pm |
    • Jon

      I live in the US and I don't see why Muslims can carry swords to class at a public university and I can't carry a pocket knife over 4 inches long. Your religion shouldn't put you above the law. A burqa is a security risk. If I can't go into public with a mask neither should they. I applaud France for not letting people's religious beliefs make them immune to the law.

      April 11, 2011 at 9:37 pm |
    • JacklynD

      @ Hamza

      The men of Europe and North America (and most the world) are used to seeing the female body. There is no shame in it. You create the shame and that is what is so offensive about the face covering garb and your statements on this web site. You lack self control and can't look at women as just another human being. YOu have been brought up with shame and fear.

      It is your problem to solve not the civilized world's. The burka is backwards and demeaning to women all over the world. France is doing the right thing. There is no reason to tolerate the sort of degradation of women.

      April 11, 2011 at 9:37 pm |
    • Bob

      I agree with the new law within France. It's their law, if you don't like or approve of their new law, then get out.
      (There is a pattern forming, people are starting to lose a lot of respect and trust for the Muslim people.)-who's fault is that?

      April 11, 2011 at 9:40 pm |
    • Kay

      The big problem I see with this is that you could be anyone... hide anything... under the burqa. Including bombs. It's the French government trying to protect their people. And who do they have to blame for this? Radical Islam. Their own people did this to them.

      April 11, 2011 at 9:40 pm |
    • llatpoh

      France should be cheered for having the courage to defend western values and western civilization. Here's the TRUTH – the burka is not about islam the religion, it is about POLITICAL islam – promoting Islamic/sharia law and gender apartheid. Hopefully the rest of the West– where females are have equal rights and are treated as full citizens – wakes up and smells the coffee... time to realize that the parallel sharia law legal systems that have been allowed in countries like the UK have been a complete failure – viva la France!

      April 11, 2011 at 9:45 pm |
    • hamza

      i always thought that french had some kind of a tumor on their brains when they thought it appropriate to present the statue of liberty to a so genocidal people like ameicans.now i am sure they had a brain cancer and it is still there.

      April 11, 2011 at 9:46 pm |
    • RUSerious

      @hamza, yet again

      Go away troll. Your comments absolutely reek of ignorance and you hold more hatred than most of the posters on here. Many Americans are good people, willing to help those in need, and just do what they have to to get by and raise families in a WORLD filled with murderers, terrorists, preditors and other crazies. The US is not the only country with bigots and ignorant backwards thinking extremists, as you show so vividly.

      April 11, 2011 at 11:31 pm |
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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.