April 11th, 2011
11:45 AM ET

Explainer: Islamic headscarves and France's new burqa ban

France's controversial ban on wearing Islamic veils such as burqas took effect Monday.

The ban pertains to the burqa, a full-body covering that includes a mesh window over the face, and the niqab, a full-face veil that leaves an opening only for the eyes.

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.

Click through the gallery to see what the main types of Islamic headscarves look like - and to see what's banned and what's not under France's new law.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Church and state • France • Islam • Politics

soundoff (99 Responses)
  1. Kathy McKenziw

    I am for the ban as i see it as a security risk for one thing. We have the right and needed comfort to see who we are talking with etc. Also remember when the terriorists fled wearing the female clothing so not to be identified. The fact is that countries taking muslims or others are in the process of adjusting to the differences but they have to compromist too. If someone absolutely cannot accept this, then i think they would feel more comfortable to go where it is acceptable to all, perhaps back to there mother land

    April 12, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
  2. derp

    Did france ban ninja's too?

    April 12, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
  3. derp

    Muslim chicks are fugly as a goat's ballsack. That's why they cover themselves all up like that.

    April 12, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
    • PEACE!!!

      wow. another moron dirtying the internet with his idiotic words. grow up.

      April 20, 2011 at 7:53 pm |
  4. Melly

    if you do not like it,go back to your countries...we do not need you in Europe!!We are sick of all fanatic muslims...even in germany a huge number of moslims live from social money,get social flats,are lazy and do nothing ,then exploite the system..GERMANY WAKE UP!!!..time to change!1

    April 12, 2011 at 12:38 am |
    • Christian Adeline

      Melly, don't be mean. If there are practicing Christians in Germany, they can help Muslims and others live happily together.

      April 12, 2011 at 1:14 am |
  5. Atman


    April 12, 2011 at 12:02 am |
  6. GSA

    @BG – I knew I shouldn't have posted on this blog, now their on to me.....(backs away quietly). Hehe.

    April 11, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
    • BG

      @ GSA

      Too late. The DHS agents working at CNN have already logged your confession. An black unmarked Ford Explorer will arrive at your home shortly to 'escort' you to your C-130 rendition flight to Beserkerstan.

      I've heard you can survive quite well for about six months on stale Lucky Charms and flat Pepsi. Enjoy!

      April 11, 2011 at 9:15 pm |
  7. Bronzeali

    I am a Muslim girl and I have a good knowledge of Rubrics and Divine laws of my religion and I wear a headscarf, so I well aware that women who wear the burqa they follow the heresy which God has sent down no authority…they distort the Islamic religion, which honored and safeguarded the existence of women by decent modest dresses and not that Ridiculous burqa.

    April 11, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
    • Humza

      If you are a Muslim girl who wears the head scarf, you must know that it is not oppressive, and it is generally (and should always be) the woman's choice. It is an established fact that it is required for Muslim women. On the same token, wearing a Burqa or Niqab is a completely optional thing in Islam-it is not mandated anywhere. It is the woman's choice whether or not to wear it. It is an extra effort they make, but it is not a distortion whatsoever.

      April 11, 2011 at 9:49 pm |
    • DavidMichael

      How do you follow a religion that suggests a god that places your value as that of half of a man, especially in the court of law? How is such a religion not obviously manmade to you?

      April 12, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
    • DavidMichael

      Humza, any reasonable person would see this costume as nothing less than dehumanizing to women. Are there women whose self-esteem is so low as to follow such? Yes, and they do. The abuse that men inflict, demanding such also pushes the envelope. Does your belief also allow men to marry without so much as consulting with their wife? Yes, we also know this to be true. What is a women's value compared to a man's in the court of law under Shariah? Only half of the value of a man, you say? Do you have a pet dog? No, why not? Oh, because your prophet find them demonic. How old was your prophet's wife, Alisha? That would be age 9. She continued to play with toys as his wedded and bedded wife. How is any of that rational to you?

      April 12, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
    • (B)iraq Hussein Osama

      a woman's testimony is half that of a man, because women are usually not involved in day to day business dealings and as such their testimony is considered half in the sense that it is recommended two women testify instead of one man, so that between them, they get the facts right.

      More liberal scholars would argue that if a BUSINESSWOMAN is testifying, than her testimony is considered EQUAL to a mans. All this in order for JUSTICE TO BE SERVED, not because "women are half of men" as you try to rationalize.

      this is still a FAR FAR BETTER PERFROMANCE than your own self-righteous civilization, where a woman is not even half a man, MORE LIKE THREE PERCENT OF A MAN!! If you look at the number of CEOs in the Fortune 500, you find how many female CEOs??? THIRTEEN! thats right 13. 13/500 = 3%.

      And you have the shamelessness to come on here with 3% of your women running your big corporations and lecture muslims about treating their women as half of men!

      April 12, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
  8. GSA

    @juststeve – don't bother trying. Most ppl on this blog are all about picking a side and going to war on any situation. They don't take the time to evaluate the whole situation at all. Banning the Burqa makes sense in certain areas (DMV, legislature buildings, etc.) but banning it for use everywhere is beyond idiotic. I could just as easily hide something under my clothes than any woman could with a Burqa and walk to any street and pretty much anytime. Bottom line is ppl are scared of a situation and there fear is what motivates them to hate the whole of a religion instead of the group within that religion that is causing problems.

    April 11, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
    • BG

      @ GAS (er..GSA)

      " I could just as easily hide something under my clothes than any woman could with a Burqa..."

      We knew it; you've always been a suspect. Now we've got good reason to get you into the little room next door with the hooks for your clothes and the two-way mirror. Yep – there's cameras too. Get moving. Yes, the turban, too.

      We've got your number.

      April 11, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
  9. juststeve

    This is nothing less than Draconian reactions to aproblem/prejudice.

    By some of the comments, I'm wondering whether or not these same people also believe that no that non- covering of the face, includes men with facial hair, (eg beard), should be included in the ban?

    I invite you to consider, that the covering of a woman's face may be based upon, a belief that any attraction to that woman, will be soley based on being captivated by her eye's (the window to the soul), and not her physical appeance.

    Too often do our eyes may deceive / tempt us, especially, when we see a well-shaped body, we may be distracted by the physical as opposed to the intellectual / spirit of that person.

    If the goal of the ban is to some-how ferret-out potential terrorist. Try other means, than the denying a person's religious belief's. How would you like it if France ban's certain casual clothing or the (wearing of make-up for women), since it may indicate some criminal activity. I for one do not support that at all. Nor do I support or condone terrorism in any way.Shape or form.

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

      Yes, you do believe in terrorism because that is what this costume does to women. Women are often forced to wear such a costume that inhibits them from properly seeing. Wear one for a day and report back. I am positive you will have changed your mind.

      April 12, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
  10. viranka

    wearing the hijab or the chador means they don't have to comb their hair or shave their legs and wearing the burqa or niqab, well they give new meaning to holloween

    April 11, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
  11. Burqa's are Hot

    They look like Jawa's from Star War's AND I DONT LIKE STAR WARS Rip offs!!!!

    April 11, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
  12. Diffusser

    Burqa is an eye sore ... scary..shd be worn only on halloween

    April 11, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
    • RedRider333

      Goth kids are scary... Snake and spider tattoos are scary... white trash girls with their breasts hanging out are scary... In fact, we should set out a government-approved mandatory dress code and only allow people to wear what they want on Halloween.

      /joking, please don't be offended.

      April 11, 2011 at 6:46 pm |
  13. Ray

    Wonder how long it will be before French Law requires that the French have to take baths on a regular basis??

    April 11, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
  14. Truefax

    Did you know that Muslim women can't cover their faces during the Hajj pilgramage. IF Muslim women can't cover their faces during parts of the hajj what makes it right otherwise? Let people see your faces, ninja's are sooo tokugawa.

    April 11, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
    • DavidMichael

      Correct, a women in Ihraim may NOT cover her face and Naquib is prohibited. So, the head covering is quite effectively ANTI-Islam.

      April 12, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
  15. who am I

    head covering practices exist because arab men can't control themselves, so they must remove the influence. and when they are 'influenced', it's the woman's fault. what's more sad is that the women think it's a priveledge.

    April 11, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
  16. Ray

    Fundamentalist Muslim men demand the wearing of the Burqa because these men suffer for the Freudian little dick theory !!!

    April 11, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
  17. C. Cantu

    The burqa was created by the need to protect Islamic women from the lust of Muslim monarchs and leaders. Even nowadays, sultans, caliphs, emirs can appropriate for themselves any women they want for their harem. It is a fact , that Muslim monarchs can have more than 200 concubines while they only allow a maximum of 4 concubines to their subjects. It seems the most logical thing to do is to hide a women by means of covering her from head to toes to protect her from any lascivious and poweful leader.

    April 11, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
    • Jennifer

      No. The most logical thing is for these 7th century-minded misogynists to learn to value women for more than just sex and keep their libidos in check. How does one 'appropriate' a human being anyway? Unless that human being has been so disregarded as to be treated equal to a camel. (Actually I believe some men in these ciltures would value the camel more.) There is no logic in treating a human in such a manner simply because they are the opposite gender, no matter how hard you try to veil it in religious belief.

      April 11, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
    • DavidMichael

      The costume is to subjugate women. One can't very well run away when unable to properly see now can one?

      April 12, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
  18. Salim

    The burka brigade feels they are superior to other muslims. These fundamentalist needed a reality check!
    The only way to combat religious extremism is with heavy handed secularity, believe in anything that you like in your private space. If you think you are superior because of some sort of belief you have your thought process needs to be challenged !

    April 11, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
    • Ricardo

      So your saying no one belief is superior, except your belief that no belief is superior? Right?

      April 11, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
    • Nicole

      SIsters who wear the niqab/burqa do so as a religious choice in order to obey their lord, and become closer to Him. It is not about some superiority to another muslim or another human being. Banning the niqab is just as much oppression as it is to force her to wear it.

      April 11, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
    • PEACE!!!

      that may be for some muslims but not all. donʻt lump them all together. though some may wear it to feel superior to other women others wear it for modesty. it is idiotic to try to lump all of those women together like that.

      April 20, 2011 at 7:47 pm |
  19. RKT

    I agree with France's ruling about outlawing garments that cover the face. The chador is not so different from what Catholic nuns used to wear!

    April 11, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • RedRider333

      That may be the case, but what does that have to do with banning the burqa and niqab? France is a free country, after all, and it makes more sense for the government to ban things that are deliberately and directly causing harm rather than "allowing" certain types of clothing. In other words, the question should not be, "what can I wear?" but "what can I not wear?"

      April 11, 2011 at 6:42 pm |
  20. framous

    Let them wear bags over there heads and call them unknown comics.

    April 11, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • 4theGood

      Funny, we are upset if somebody wears too little, and now also if they wear to much. I think this world is full of excesses. In regards to Islam's practices, I think in regards to women they are filthy.

      April 11, 2011 at 6:34 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.