April 12th, 2011
01:48 PM ET

Debating France's new burqa ban

Eliot Spitzer speaks with Hebah Ahmed, founder of Muslim Women Outreach, on France's controversial ban on wearing Islamic veils such as burqas, which took effect Monday.

Debating Ahmed is Mona Eltahawy, a New York-based journalist and commentator and an international lecturer on Arab and Muslim issues. Her essays make her one of only a few writers whose work appears regularly in both the Arab and U.S. media.

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. 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.

Read the full post on the burqa ban debate on the In the Arena blog
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: France • Islam

soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. RichP, easton, pa

    Why don't we call them what they are, masks to hide facial features.

    April 13, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
  2. MoHamMad

    Self study on Political Islam: For lazy people who does not like to read the threat.


    April 13, 2011 at 11:14 am |
  3. Whenin

    If Muslims don't agree with the sects that are violent against non muslims and other peoples way of life, then they need to get a hold of these lunatics. Islam/Muslims have to prove themselves in nations that are non muslim and to the world since their religion is being mis-represented. If they are not willing to take responsibility for the violence their people perpetuate on the world, then they agree with their actions whether they are going to admit it or not. If Islam is so gentile and loving, then they should be proving it. What Muslim organizations are giving to the world regardless of religous views and political views?

    April 13, 2011 at 10:34 am |
  4. GSA

    @BG – Like I said, same thing but you will do what it takes to call it something different because it makes you feel that you are better than anyone else out there. Being legal or not, it still happens in the US. Do you have any proof otherwise? I've heard hundreds of stories from women who were held against their will, married to much older men with mutliple wives and ra-ped day in and day out and it all happens in the US daily and it is actually legal since these sects have the right to do so. They are getting away with it and everyone knows it but won't speak up, ask yourself why you point the finger but can't control what happens in your own backyard?

    April 13, 2011 at 10:26 am |
    • BG

      @ GSA

      " I've heard hundreds of stories from women who were held against their will, married to much older men with mutliple (sic) wives and rap-ed day in and day out and it all happens in the US daily "

      "hundreds?" Wow. That's a lot. Sure it wasn't just -one- story that you read in 'People' magazine...?

      April 13, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
    • Deb

      GSA, you sound Muslim . . you probably are. You can stick your koran where the sun doesn't shine. May someone burn one of those books every day of the year forever.

      April 25, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
  5. Whenin

    Cover up if you want or not but the truth is not being addressed here. One central reason it is banned is because of the religous intolerance of Islam/Muslims. They want the freedom to practice their religion when in fact their so called religion deems it lawful to attack a non muslim and to go as far as to take life from them. I think this is a revealing of the true face of Islam that is necessary for them to live among non muslims. Muslim women can reveal who they are without being covered from head to toe and if they cannot they can go back to a place where they can.

    April 13, 2011 at 10:02 am |
  6. rusty shackelford

    put a Burqa on the hag next to her.These people have made their countries horrible places that no one wants to live in, and now they want to spread their stone age way of life to the rest of the world, NO WAY.

    April 13, 2011 at 9:33 am |
    • Define/Freedom/of/Religion

      Rusty, i believe you need to do some research. Islam is not some sort of epidemic. The headscarves worn by Muslim women are not required. They are worn by choice exept in unfortunate situations. Women who wear them often do so so that males will not look at their body but at their personality. Too often now on days are women judged by the way they dress or the manner in which they present themselves. Surely you can at least agree with me on that. Perhaps the way women are expected to be now is even more dangerous than wearing the burqa or niqab. Did you know 900,000 women died in France only a few years ago to suicide? one of the largest causes of suicide is depression. In women, one of the largest causes for phycological depresssion is self-esteem and body image. <3 Do the research!!!

      May 28, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
  7. John Mickey

    I love how this sort of legislation would NEVER get passed in the US, a country where freedom actually exists. But we're so backwards, clearly, and not nearly as enlightened as the French.

    April 12, 2011 at 10:28 pm |
  8. GSA

    @DG – honor killings are cultural and are not something Islamic. They happen in many other parts of the world to ppl of all religions. I am Sikh and have heard of Sikhs doing them in India and Canada, doesn't make it a Sikh thing it has to do with that persons upbringing and cluture. In Canada and US they happen as well, in certain sects of the Catholic community that live isolated from the rest but no one seems to care. Also many girls have been killed in the US because they dated outside their race. They were considered a dishonor to the family but no one will call this an honor killing since the person doing it was Christian or white, sad but true.
    On a related note there are very high occurences of our troops and police committing domestic violence here in North America so i'm guessing you are against all troops/police since they are clearly a danger to themselves and their families?
    Maybe calm down, take a good, hard look at the situation and stop being such a coward and freaking out and we can think of real solutions to problems instead of running around scared.

    April 12, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
    • BG (not DG)

      @ GSA

      " in certain sects of the Catholic community that live isolated from the rest but no one seems to care. "

      Oh, for Pete's sake.. where do you get this stuff from? Lay off the herb. And quit making parallels of domestic violence between PTSD and what Islamists routinely do as part of what they believe is sanctioned by their "religion." Unless you're claiming that Muslims suffer from PTSD? More likely they're all bipolar; that'd be about the only rational explanation.

      "Also many girls have been killed in the US because they dated outside their race."
      Yep, them southern baptists even have it written into the church charter... No, bubba GSA, it's not sanctioned over here. Really. You can get arrested for stuff like that!

      Gaah!! Enough. I'll say it again, 'cause apparently I have to.

      Stop making shi1 up. Just stop.

      *face palm

      April 12, 2011 at 6:52 pm |
    • Deb

      You just made that crap up. Nowhere in the catholic teachings is there anything about "honor killings." You know what though? The muslim piece of craps can do as many "honor killings" as they like as long as they just wipe out themselves and their muslim buddies.

      April 25, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
  9. Keith

    I remember when many of you morons here said that Bibi would certainly be released because of the attention she was getting....Well, guess what? She very sick in solitary confinement thanks to the tolerant religion of peace. I pray that God would wipe the cancer called islam from this planet. Someday He will. Perhaps very soon.

    April 12, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
  10. Keith

    Who gives a crap about this? How about an update on Asia Bibi?

    April 12, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
  11. BG

    Idiot Spitzer.

    Face covering is not part of a 'religion'. Islam doesn't require it.

    Stop it, Eliot. Stop making crap up. Stop feeding into this fascist madness.

    April 12, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
    • Define/Freedom/of/Religion

      Wearing headscarves is not required in the Islamic faith, yes, but i think what Spitzer meant was that headscarves are closely associated with the Islamic religion. I believe he was trying to quickly express how muslims wear these. You don't exactly see an atheist or christian or jewish person wandering around in a headscarf traditionally worn by Muslims. Unless there's a new fashion trend that I'm unaware of...

      May 28, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
  12. derp

    Is that reporter debating with a ninja?

    April 12, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
  13. DG

    When are you going to wake up. Islam is not just a religion it is a way of life. You live it, eat it, wear it and pray it five times a day. They want to take over. They can't live in a country that is not predominately Muslin. They can't. They want us to change to their way. Ever hear of Sharia law? It is happening in England. Honor killings, etc. They don't want to be French or American. Wake up folks!

    April 12, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      No, we have never heard of Sharia law... can you please tell us what it is all about and how it can possibly effect us.

      This Sharia Law sounds like something that we all should listen to DG tell us about so that we can be informed.

      Please DG ..continue with teaching us the truth of Sharia.


      April 12, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
    • BG

      @ DG

      Dear boy, please learn to offer the resources that are available. There's so many to choose from...


      @ MMR

      Really? Don't be a putz. Or is this a Mark from Middle River impersonator? I guess we're in for a treat.

      April 12, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Nope, its the original MMR.... just having fun with a person that ask on a active.... often times hostile blog if we had ever heard of something such as Sharia.

      April 12, 2011 at 8:31 pm |
    • BG

      @ MMR

      Oh, I see.. A troublemaker, 'eh? 😈

      April 12, 2011 at 9:42 pm |
  14. Dave

    Full disclosure, I am an atheist and a former Catholic. The only knowledge I have of Islam is from observing, independant research and from a couple of college classes.

    From what I have been able to glean, Islam dictates that men and women dress modestly and more specifically women to cover their hair. Therefore, a sensible dress or skirt and a headscarf are all that s really needed. In fact the new law in France allows for headscarves and to-the-floor gowns. It's only garments that hide the face that are forbidden.
    I don't believe that Islam specifically directs women to hide their faces in public. It's more a cultural tenant than religious.

    In the USA, there are many laws still on the books that forbid being masked in public. Except for the occasional klucker, most of those laws are not strictly enforced.

    April 12, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
  15. Zose crazeee Frenchies

    The French are good at one thing, they always fight off the influence of everyone outside France. That also includes us in the good ol' US of A.

    April 12, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
  16. Krista

    They shouldn't be allowed and I don't care if you think I'm racist.

    April 12, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
    • MoHamMad

      You are not racist because Islam is not a race. To learn more about Islamic threat check 'Faith Freedom' and save other girls from Muslim men.

      April 12, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
    • Zose crazeee Frenchies

      Krista, if they can't take a joke, f' 'em.

      April 12, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
    • Deb

      You are 100% correct on banning those stupid face scarves and all the rest of the garb that Muslim women wear.

      April 25, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
  17. SBBlair

    Can't help but wonder if suicide attacks will follow. Truly hope not but zealots are everywhere.

    April 12, 2011 at 2:37 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.