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. pablo

    I think France went too easy. I'd go for a good old fashion stoning or beheading as they do in the middle east. We made fun of france for being easy on the Nazis in the beginning. Now the leftists say we're too tough on the next invasion. Sheesh!

    April 11, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
    • Marissa

      Way to go Pablo! You are so right. First they kill off the jews – next they kill off the christians. Beware the coming invasion from the middle east! Wise up you sad sack liberals and defend your country!

      April 11, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
    • sjenner

      Defend our country from what? The vast majority of Muslims living in the United States are hard working, law abiding, well educated and contributing members of our society. There is a small if dangerous minority who are not. Back in the late 19th Century/early 20th Century, Italian immigrants had problems with anarchists who engaged in extremely violent behavior, including murder. Should we have stopped all Italian immigration. Many Protestants said yes, not least because Italians were inconsistent with American values and culture (a similar argument was made against the Irish, Jews, Poles and Russians). How much poorer a country we would have been had those arguments succeeded.

      April 11, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
  2. Nora W

    The person behind the veil could be a man and a terrorist, or for that matter, a woman and a terrorist. I agree with the French government, in these times a person's face must be identifiable. If the Muslims don't like it, they can leave. Viva la France!

    April 11, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
    • sjenner

      Should men then be required to shave their beards? Those also severely distort someone's facial features. How is it fair to single out Muslims? Should observant Jews and Eastern Orthodox Christian clergy be forced to shave their beards? Where is the legitimate limit to what the state can mandate the individual do, even in violation of their religious creeds and beliefs?

      April 11, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
  3. Kevin

    Vive France!

    This is great news to the majority of the female population in Middle East whom mostly by force and not by choice has to cover their faces and bodies. I was in Iran before the 1979 revolution and after the Mullahs took power when they started forcing woman to “cover up” and treated them as second class citizens. In western world, we have to set the example that that freedom of religion is different from allowing an undercurrent of anti-woman right to take place. Thank You France!

    April 11, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
    • sjenner

      But how do you respond to someone's voluntary decision to wear the burqa in a free country? Isn't what France is doing now just as bad as what the Islamic Republic of Iran did? Why shouldn't people be free to wear what they want, in conformity with their own religious beliefs?

      April 11, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
    • kayinde

      sjenner often the women do not choose to wear this garment. Since more Muslims have entered the workplace, women have lost a great deal of ground in equality in the US – they consistently discriminate against women and expect us to be subservient to them where I work. If those idiot women want to put up with it at home that's fine but the men need to realize that this is the US and women are equal to them

      April 11, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
    • sjenner

      That may or may not be true. My question, is how does that square with the First Amendment? There are anti-discrimination laws to address what you complain about. But I fail to see how what you say justifies the French Government utilizing an extremely open ended criteria to target one particular religious custom it doesn't like. I fail to see how the French Government couldn't likewise ban the clothing requirements of Jews and other groups who traditionally have fallen on the wrong side of societal hate and prejudice? Whether a woman choses to wear a burqa has no impact on your freedoms or choices. So I fail to see the compelling state interest in banning it.

      April 11, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
  4. sjenner

    The comments to this article powerfully demonstrate fully why our First Amendment guaranties are so fragile. The First Amendment provides, quite wisely, that government shall "pass no law regarding the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof [...]." It is not government's place to tell people what they can and cannot do in the conduct of their religious beliefs, traditions and principals, so long as they do not harm or intrude upon the rights of others in doing it.

    The rationale offered by the French Government in prohibiting the burqa is that France is a "bare faced" society. If that is the justification, then any minority religious tradition can be banned based on some nebulous and ultimately, over-generalized societal norm (of course, that also means observant Jews, Muslim men, and Eastern Orthodox Christian clergy should also be required to shave). Importantly, a "bare faced" society is hardly a compelling government interest, sufficient to overcome the individual's right to self determination and freedom of conscience!

    You may not like Islam (and I am no fan of the subservience of women to men under any religious system, or the burqa). But it is not up to government in some paternalistic fashion to say what is in someone's best interests in the exercise of their conscience and right to self determination. If ultra-conservative Muslim women want to live wearing the burqa and subservient to men in a free country, then that is their choice. Let government take away that freedom, and it will be coming after yours next. Such is human nature, as the testing ground of history has proven time and time again.

    April 11, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
  5. Vincent M

    My goodness, how people over react. The burqa is not the problem, diriving an automobile with ones sight limited by one is; terrorist dressed as women wearing a burqa is; criminals committing crimes while disguised is another. Wake up, this is 2011. Anyone who has a thinking mind can consult the imam for alternatives acceptable in this age. Traditions change with time. Change is good especially when one immigrates to a new culture seeking social change. One can hold onto religious beliefs while adapting. Did the ageless tradition of not eating meat on Fridays change for Catholics without disaster?

    April 11, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
    • Marissa

      Lets the arabs make the rules in their countries – not ours! They want it both ways! They have a hidden agenda. Beware!

      April 11, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
    • sjenner

      And what is your proof of that hidden agenda, that all Muslims are participating in? Similar arguments were made against the Jews for centuries, with tragic results....

      April 11, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
  6. muhrvis

    We also need to ban all Halloween masks, costume party clothing, and skiing gear that prevent people from being identified !!!!!!!!!!!

    April 11, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
    • sjenner

      Exactly. And ski masks, even if its -23 degrees outside. And those pesky Venetians with their "Regatta." We need to introduce legislation in the EU to advance that ban to all Europe. After all, Europe is an "open-faced" society.

      April 11, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
  7. booboo

    If you live in France you have to live by their rules. I'm glad to see them standing up for their values and their national security.

    April 11, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
  8. Bob

    All of a sudden I really like France. Finally a country with the nerve to say EVEN religion has it's limiits and stupid is NOT acceptable. Cover the body, cover the head BUT no you cannot cover the face and the reasons are obvious.

    April 11, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
  9. tewrobert

    A lot of the muslim women wanted this ban, They do not all want to be restricted.
    Its the ones who believe in it that will be prisoners in their own home and tormented by their jealous husbands.......Thats about all it amounts too as far as I am concerned, Jealous men........

    April 11, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
  10. Chaotacracy

    This could be the start of something very, very bad.

    As if human civilization itself wasn't already sitting on enough powder kegs. Let's throw in some more pointless obsessions with religious belief systems, just to make sure that EVERYONE is at everyone else's throats - one small step/law at a time...

    April 11, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
  11. Treach

    When in Rome, do as the Romans. I say good for France! Why is the US the only country in the world that allows everyone to do whatever they want. When you are in the Middle East as a visitor you have to abide by their laws and rules and so they should do the same when they decide to travel outside of their own country.

    April 11, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
    • David L.

      It is those freedoms that you seem to be blasting right now that makes this country so great? If you really want to start taking these freedoms away, maybe you should move to some of these countries, sounds right up your alley.

      April 11, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
  12. steve

    i wish we could have the same law here. muslims do whatever they want these days and lable it as freedom of religion... if ur religion dictates violence and murder of innocent people, that religion must be locked up.

    April 11, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
  13. Sassan

    It is NOT THEIR RIGHT when it EFFECTS MY SECURITY. Having someone cover their face (not just their head) effects the security of my family and I. How do I know if the person is not a criminal? A child molester? A terrorist? When something impacts my security, it is no longer a right. In addition, it violates western values of secularism, women's rights, and human dignity. They can move back to the Islamic country of their choice if they like. In contrast, the same people want me KILLED on the spot for being a non-believer (atheist)!

    April 11, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
    • David L.

      Ok, so you see me on the street. I'm not wearing a veil? Is it now clear to you that I am not a child molester, or a terrorist, or a criminal? The veil is not hiding the fact that they are criminals, we just fear what we don't understand. And it is this irrational fear that is guiding you and everyone else to allow the stripping of our rights.

      April 11, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • Duh

      Huh?..... says the following.........I am a Christian man and do NOT agree with this idiocrisy. This is prejudice at it's finest, and all of you far right 'extremists' should examine YOUR faith and who YOU serve as the apostle Paul said. How would you like if the 'law' stated we couldn't wear our cross on the streets? There is NO difference no matter which way you try to spin it – sorry. Wow, there are way too many fearful and down right racist Christians nowadays. Christ-like? I think NOT. Goodbye............... Please explain this to that dumba$$.

      April 11, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
    • Really?

      Point is, David, I can see you...I can see your face.

      April 11, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
    • David L.

      @Really? – Seems pretty arbitrary to me. "I can see your face, so you must be safe. But I can't see your face, you must be dangerous."

      If I'm wearing sunglasses and a hood, you can't really see my face, do you want to start outlawing that?

      April 11, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
  14. mejazzbo

    Good for you, France!

    April 11, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
  15. nigel collins

    It's about time they did this. I hope they do the same thing in Canada.

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

    I agree with the ban for it's purpose – to be able to identify people. France also has taken other steps to maintain the equality of women in society and I applaud that. I have been told that Muslim women use the garb to smuggle great deals of contraband into prisons as they object to being searched upon entering. I for one would feel much safer with such a ban in this country. What is different about this and foreigners being forced to wear burqas when visiting Muslim countries? Or is reverse discrimination not recognized by Muslims?

    April 11, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
    • David L.

      Why is everyone using the argument about what happens when we go over to the arab world, and having to live by their rules? That is your justification for stripping people's rights? "Well, if they're don't recognize our right to wear what we want, then we won't recognize our citizens rights to wear what they want?" Isn't that what sets us apart from them? What you seem to be supporting is the very discrimination over there that you're fighting.

      April 11, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
  17. Fuyuko

    Seems like a sensible move to me. Its France's country. Their rules.

    April 11, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
  18. Huh?

    I am a Christian man and do NOT agree with this idiocrisy. This is prejudice at it's finest, and all of you far right 'extremists' should examine YOUR faith and who YOU serve as the apostle Paul said. How would you like if the 'law' stated we couldn't wear our cross on the streets? There is NO difference no matter which way you try to spin it – sorry. Wow, there are way too many fearful and down right racist Christians nowadays. Christ-like? I think NOT. Goodbye.

    April 11, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
    • riceckr

      bravo *claps*

      April 11, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
    • Duh

      You're 1 dumb christian.

      April 11, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
    • Melanie

      Why don't you go and preach your Christian Values and carry your Bible and wear a big Cross on your neck in an Islamic Country and see how far you will get with that!!! All the Cheers to France for having the Guts for standing up for THEIR Country to exercise their Rights and Laws. If you don't like it in France, go back home to your Country!!!

      April 11, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • Jim

      Religion aside, it makes sense for security purposes. All these folks face in France is a fine. If I go to anywhere in the middle east you can be rest assured I will follow their laws. I don't want to end up in some shi$% jail all because I forget and kissed my wife on the lips in public. I’d say it is fair.

      April 11, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
    • AK

      I would agree with your comments in one condition. Can we live the same life style, or dress exact the same way when in Islamic countires? The answer is NO. Becouse they demand us to respect and obey their laws....even during our short stay at any those contries airport for a flight conections! Now please tel me why France can't do the same as what has been done with the entire middle east contires? If you wont respond, just please re-think about your earlier comments.
      Thanks you and goodbye to you too

      April 11, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
    • David L.

      @Melanie – so what if they don't like it over in Muslim countries? You think that it's ok to stoop to their level just because they don't like the way we do things? France is free to do what they want, but as a westernized country, I would've thought better of them. They are becoming the very thing they are fighting.

      April 11, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
    • David L.

      @AK, same comment. "why France can't do the same as what has been done with the entire middle east contires? (sic)" Is that what you want? Do you want us to enforce the same principles they enforce over there? Do you want us to govern what people can wear, or how they should practice their religious beliefs? If that's what the people of France want, then they are well on their way. But that is definitely not what I want.

      April 11, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
  19. MissDaisy

    Good for France...at least they aren't cowering to these folks. I hope France doesn't have an ACLU type organization to try and overturn this.

    April 11, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
  20. Floyd

    I'm All for the the Burqa ban. I think it is a matter of security. It should be the norm in the western world... We (the western world) should not let the tolerance of our societies be twisted by the most intolerant of societies, the Muslim world. When westerners travel to Muslim countries we are expected to follow the rules of their society. Why not reciprocate and make it the law for Muslims to practice tolerance and equal rights for women when traveling, working, and or living in our countries! Hats off to France!

    April 11, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • John

      Open-minded Europe?

      April 11, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
    • Dan

      Yeah because we all know when it comes to tolerance Christianity is an upstanding example historically.

      April 11, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
    • aimie

      talk about today. why bring up past of chrisitiany or any other religion. open-minded does not mean you allow people to do whatever they want. you wouldn't feel so open-minded if someone wanted to defecate on your frontlawn.

      April 11, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • Really?

      I love when people take a swipe at Christianity from actions that occured hundreds of years ago, and compare it to an oppressive religion that exists today. That's really your best argument? You can't be serious. Bottom line is, religion takes a back seat to security...ALWAYS. I don't care what religion you are, nor do I care about your customs if it is a threat to ANYONE. Tolerance is only applicable to those cultures that promote freedom. In no way should anyone tolerate a religion or culture that does not tolerate others. You come to France for freedom, that is exactly what you will get...not oppression or the tolerance of oppressive ideas.

      April 11, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
    • David L.

      "You come to France for freedom, that is exactly what you will get...not oppression or the tolerance of oppressive ideas" That used to be true, but with more legislation like this, you're moving farther and farther away from that "freedom" and moving more towards those "oppressive ideas" that everyone is fighting so vehemently.

      April 11, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
    • sjenner

      Exactly. Merely because you fight someone else's tyranny doesn't give you license to impose your own. Either you support individual freedoms or you don't. Banning an individual choice, that harms no one else's rights or liberties can hardly be called a master-stroke for freedom.

      April 11, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
    • mike

      What do you mean, "talk about today" and "actions that occured hundreds of years ago"? The religious right in American (Christian) of TODAY is not exactly tolerant of other people's beliefs or values when they do not coincide with their own. Neither are many Israelis or Muslims for that matter. Stop acting like any one religion has a monopoly on intolerance.

      April 11, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
    • weasel

      Dan if you had an interest in reading anything historical you'd see how it was.

      But we both know you just hate Christians.

      April 11, 2011 at 2:11 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.