April 14th, 2011
11:01 AM ET

Opinion: Burqa ban turns a right into a crime

Editor's note: Sarah Joseph OBE is the CEO and editor of emel Media. She is a regular contributor to public and governmental discussions pertaining to Islam and was listed by Washington's Georgetown University as one of the world's 500 most influential Muslims.

By Sarah Joseph, Special to CNN

London, England (CNN) - The ban imposed by French President Sarkozy on wearing a face-covering veil, or niqab, is simply dangerous gesture politics, representing little more than pandering to the far right in France.

The full force of the state is coming down on fewer than 2,000 Muslim women out of a population of 6.5 million French Muslim citizens. For what purpose? We are told it is for security, the preservation of "French values" and to alleviate the oppression of women.

For security purposes, women who wear the veil should be ready to remove their face covering in places where security and identity checks are necessary, such as airports. The argument that criminals could abuse the niqab is not compelling enough to deny the fundamental freedom of religious expression to a group of French citizens - or indeed visitors to France.

Read the full story here

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Europe • France • Islam • Muslim • Opinion

soundoff (49 Responses)
  1. Nancy

    If people never committed crimes, we could all walk around with our bodies and faces covered in shapeless shrouds and no one would care. But, people commit crimes, so we have to show our faces. ...If burqa's continue to be allowed, criminals might use them to keep their anonymity when holding up banks, for example.

    April 16, 2011 at 9:21 am |
    • Adelina

      Nancy, exactly. But in Asia, the air pollution is so bad people are wearing masks all the time. Crime is one thing but I think we are losing our planet fast. A sad era with more violent people everywhere and on a failing planet at that.

      April 17, 2011 at 4:25 am |
  2. Kabuli

    I don't think many women here, in Iran or other intimidated populations see the wearing of the burqa as a RIGHT! Very warped logic inspired by a minority who want LOOK at me attention! CNN again shows it is the wing of political correctedness . . .

    April 15, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • diddly poo

      You'd be surprised kabuli.... while I personally don't like the ninja getup, some women DO see it as a right because it's THEIR own choice to decide what they wear, whether it's a shapeless shroud or a bikini and who is anyone to tell them not to. Telling people what not to wear is no different then telling them what to wear. Westerners talk about how oppressed women in eastern civilizations are and how men control everything they do, say, wear, etc, and yet here France stands, doing the same thing. Same concept, different country.

      April 17, 2011 at 11:56 pm |
  3. Dave

    Here in the USA, there are many municipalities, counties and a few states that have laws prohibiting being masked in public. Most of those laws are not strictly enforced.
    Ironically that includes the city of New Orleans. Their law gives dispensation during Mardi Gras.
    The USA could easily ban burqas by strictly enforcing these laws.

    April 15, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
  4. cayers

    Last time I checked, France was a EUROPEAN country. It, like any country has the right to enforce whatever laws it sees fit. For those who take issue with this ban...they have the option to revoke their French citizenship and relocate to another part of the world where body veils are authorized.

    This applies across the board, whether born into Islam or converted, French-born or immigrant.

    Regardless of your religious beliefs, it it up to the individual to abide by the rules of said country.

    Don't like it, leave.

    April 15, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
    • diddly poo

      While some of what you say is true, when a country wants to pride itself on equality and 'rights' for all, it can't justify singling out a religion (France can call it what they want, that's exactly what they're doing) and then maintain being a country that stands for the things I mentioned above and supposed religious freedom. You don't have to like the niqab, because frankly, as a muslim WOMAN, I oppose the face covering (although I still respect a person of ANY religions right to wear what they want), but if a EUROPEAN country (supposedly standing for equality and freedom for all) decides to single out a single religion or any belief system, then don't expect people to stand by and do nothing. If only it were so simple... with the stand for equality and freedom for all comes a lot of responsibility and we don't always like it but that's the way it goes.

      April 17, 2011 at 11:51 pm |
  5. GSA

    @MJ – what you say is correct but why would France or US or any other country for that matter want to look at another country to set its rules.

    April 15, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
    • MJ

      I think France have great Notionalistic pride for their culture and way of life,and do not like outside influnces trying to impose their will on Frence cultue. You often hear that the French do not like Americans. They do not like Americans (ore anyone else) that goes to their country and tries to impose our culture on them. I do not think this law is France looking to anouther country to set its rules but an attempt to not allow a group to impose their will on French culture.

      April 16, 2011 at 11:45 am |
  6. Oui Oui

    They could try wearing a beekeeper's suit...

    April 15, 2011 at 10:50 am |
  7. David

    What the heck is wrong with these religious nuts? They have ZERO real proof of anything yet are willing to suffer and die for nothing but words written in some old books. To the rational sane person it's very difficult to understand. It's like they have some sort of mental illness that is generally condoned by society. Instead of banning some stupid head covering what needs to be banned is all religion. It has brought more evil and death to the world than anything else conceived by man.

    April 15, 2011 at 10:25 am |
  8. MJ

    I worked in a muslem country, and all of the non muslem women were required to wear abayas when in public. If a women chose not to whear the abaya the mutaween (Religious police)would soon be on the seen beating this women. The French are not doing anything differnt, telling people if you want to live or work here these are the rules and rather then a old man in a black robe and a stick beating you the police will fine you if you do not comply. When in Rome

    April 15, 2011 at 10:06 am |
  9. Avi

    How come many Muslims do not have much freedom of religion?

    April 15, 2011 at 7:43 am |
    • Adelina

      Avi, religious freedom does not exist outside of Judeo-Christian values. Freedom of conscience, along with equality and human rights, is exclusively of Christianity.

      April 15, 2011 at 11:24 pm |
    • Peace2All


      Hi -Adelina...

      So... you are saying that the Christians have the 'patent' on--- freedom, equality, human rights, freedom of conscience...? Really...? Are you kidding...?

      If you are open to actually exploring,( I could shred your assertion here and now, however...), you 'may' want to explore a bit and I think you will find out that you are flat out wrong.

      Maybe not...? But, it's worth exploring, yes...?



      April 16, 2011 at 5:59 am |
    • Adelina

      Peace2all, where did mankind develop freedom of conscience elsewhere? We didn't need such a thing until persecuted Christians realized that was the essence of the God-given dignity of human being and also a must ingredient to pursue the truth, especially the Bible. Write me one thing at a time. I usually don't read or respend to lengthy garbage.

      April 16, 2011 at 6:22 am |
    • Peace2All


      I will keep my "lengthy garbage," as you called it even shorter, than my what... 2 or 3 sentences...? From your response, I can tell that, to put it 'kindly', we will just have to agree to disagree.

      Again, you may want to open up your mind and explore... you may find that there is a lot more out there in LIFE, than your shallow world-view.



      April 16, 2011 at 6:36 am |
    • Adelina

      Peace2all. So what was your content? Are you a secular Westerner? Too bad you guys are totally ignorant of the significance of your own civilization. The Western civilization is not about nerds who crave more toys each passing month, you know. Not at all that. Wake up.

      April 17, 2011 at 4:29 am |
    • Adelina

      @EvolvedDNA, are you there? Do you have more than two user names? I miss you. Sincerely, your Christian friend.

      April 17, 2011 at 5:21 am |
  10. Adelina

    Security first. And Muslim women need vitamin D from sunlight and fresh air as well.

    April 14, 2011 at 11:50 pm |
    • jedi

      Muslim men just want to control their women and girls because they are afraid of infidelity commited by Muslim women especially with non-muslim men. :d

      April 15, 2011 at 12:44 am |
    • jedi

      Muslim women who prefer to wear niqab or burqa should go stay in countries where Sharia (Absolute and partial) is being enforce with limited women rights.

      April 15, 2011 at 12:49 am |
    • Adelina

      Jedi, I think it's modesty gone wrong over time. A good balance is the hardest to find in this world. I think Muslims do not want the women to look like prosti tutes like many Western women who walk around the town in their underwears.

      April 15, 2011 at 11:31 pm |
    • Nancy

      As a nurse who understands the overlooked, yet important effects of vitamin D, I say good point, adelina!

      April 16, 2011 at 9:30 am |
    • Reality

      Sun screens used to prevent skin cancer also prevent Vitamin D formation that is why doctors today prescribe Vitamin D supplements for those patients with low Vitamin D levels.

      April 18, 2011 at 8:49 am |
  11. Nicole H

    it's not a Right. maybe in countries with Sharia law or majority Muslim rule.

    April 14, 2011 at 8:25 pm |
    • Don

      It is a right. Just because you hate muslims doesn't make it not a right.

      April 14, 2011 at 9:56 pm |
    • jedi

      @ Don
      So Mustafa Kemal Ataturk who endorse the ban on women wearing hijab and burqa hate muslim while he's muslim himself who bring equality for women in Turkey base on your logic.

      April 14, 2011 at 11:17 pm |
    • jedi

      @ Don
      BTW Don I sure don't have problem with Muslim wearing swim suit or Muslim as Miss USA(Rima Fakih) or Miss UK in case you have an assumption there that I hate Muslim. I'm glad there are few Muslims out there in the free world that are willing to adapt and integrate to secular society but unfortunately Majority still espouse official Sharia Law

      April 14, 2011 at 11:22 pm |
    • blacksheep

      maybe i must write article in Connexion stated about how al qaidah rule europe: immigrant french muslim turn sharia law impose inject to french law by using immigrant majority electional. the book should be called "how to empire europe by using democracy with no mass weapon"

      welcome to reality. don't close your eyes but they turned french into state like israel did in palestine. if you say south french is your country then they will say the same for israel in palestine. this is their revenge and their plan. The holy cross war still existed until today but most us and europe didn't realize this.

      April 15, 2011 at 3:09 am |
  12. oh

    i am sure i would get stopped by the cops here in California if i was wearing a ski mask in 80 degree weather. What about no shoes no shirt no service. I am wondering if a whole heap of liquor stores posted a no head covering allowed in store for security purposes sign if people would react with the same out rage? I am really not sure what i feel about this law but as you can tell i know where i am leaning. I say keep it out of government buildings and airports see how that works first

    April 14, 2011 at 7:35 pm |
    • blacksheep

      yeah right after all it will if u black or arabian. don't blame them, almost all terrorist is mid east face and that is the one we called cause and effects, i believe some arabia schollar write this book of cause before muhammad did quran.

      April 15, 2011 at 3:00 am |
  13. ColinO

    I don't like religion, and Islam in particular strikes me as a very oppressive religion, however I don't think a government should have the right to tell people what they can and can't wear in public. If they wanted to create a law that said that the Niqab and Burqa could not be worn in any government building or area of high security (airports, banks, etc), that I could get behind, but once you start regulating what people can and can't wear you're starting down a slippery slope.

    April 14, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
  14. GSA

    This is doing nothing for security or just making France any safer in general. France's gov't is just outsmarting their ppl. They have real issues affecting their ppl and instead of working on those they are just using this to divert atttention.

    April 14, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
  15. Reality

    Dear Sarah Joseph et al, (skip the following if you are not a Muslim)

    Like 1.5 billion other Muslims, you have a condition called the Three B Syndrome i.e. Bred, Born and Brainwashed in Islam. But fear not the cure is posted below:

    The Five Steps To Deprogram 1400 Years of Islamic Myths:

    ( –The Steps take less than two minutes to finish- simply amazing, two minutes to bring peace and rationality to over one billion lost souls- Priceless!!!)

    Are you ready?

    Using "The 77 Branches of Islamic "faith" a collection compiled by Imam Bayhaqi as a starting point. In it, he explains the essential virtues that reflect true "faith" (iman) through related Qur’anic verses and Prophetic sayings." i.e. a nice summary of the Koran and Islamic beliefs.

    The First Five of the 77 Branches:

    "1. Belief in Allah"

    aka as God, Yahweh, Zeus, Jehovah, Mother Nature, etc. should be added to your cleansing neurons.

    "2. To believe that everything other than Allah was non-existent. Thereafter, Allah Most High created these things and subsequently they came into existence."

    Evolution and the Big Bang or the "Gi-b G-nab" (when the universe starts to recycle) are more plausible and the "akas" for Allah should be included if you continue to be a "crea-tionist".

    "3. To believe in the existence of angels."

    A major item for neuron cleansing. Angels/de-vils are the mythical creations of ancient civilizations, e.g. Hitt-ites, to explain/define natural events, contacts with their gods, big birds, sudden winds, protectors during the dark nights, etc. No "pretty/ug-ly wingy thingies" ever visited or talked to Mohammed, Jesus, Mary or Joseph or Joe Smith. Today we would classify angels as f–airies and "tin–ker be-lls". Modern de-vils are classified as the de-mons of the de-mented.

    "4. To believe that all the heavenly books that were sent to the different prophets are true. However, apart from the Quran, all other books are not valid anymore."

    Another major item to delete. There are no books written in the spirit state of Heaven (if there is one) just as there are no angels to write/publish/distribute them. The Koran, OT, NT etc. are simply books written by humans for humans.

    Prophets were invented by ancient scribes typically to keep the un-educated masses in line. Today we call them for-tune tellers.

    Prophecies are also invali-dated by the natural/God/Allah gifts of Free Will and Future.

    "5. To believe that all the prophets are true. However, we are commanded to follow the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) alone."

    Mohammed spent thirty days "fasting" (the Ramadan legend) in a hot cave before his first contact with Allah aka God etc. via a "pretty wingy thingy". Common sense demands a neuron deletion of #5. #5 is also the major source of Islamic vi-olence i.e. turning Mohammed's "fast, hunger-driven" hallu-cinations into horrible reality for unbelievers.

    Walk these Five Steps and we guarantee a complete recovery from your Islamic ways!!!!

    Unfortunately, there are not many Muslim commentators/readers on this blog so the "two-minute" cure is not getting to those who need it. If you have a Muslim friend, send him a copy and help save the world.

    Analogous steps are available at your request for deprogramming the myths of Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Paganism .

    April 14, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      You tell her Reality !!

      If you can not wear your klan robe in public then other women should not be allowed to ether !!

      April 14, 2011 at 6:51 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Oh another thing..... I thought you said that Muslim were all black or dark skinned. Seem that most of the ones we see now days .... look very very .. not dark skinned.

      Are you sure about that dark skinned Muslims racist comments you made a bit back 🙂

      April 14, 2011 at 6:53 pm |
    • Reality

      Mark, Mark, Mark,

      Those comments were not made by me and I typically note that after said comments if I see them. Unfortunately, I am not able to read all the comments posted on this blog. You might want to go back and check on the posting you are referring to.

      My typical response:

      o The comments from Reality are not from the original Reality. Unfortunately, the blog moderators still have not figured out how to restrict commentators' names to one no matter what the email address is. This is strange because such restrictions are in place on most blogs.

      April 14, 2011 at 11:28 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Ok. If you did not say those racist things then ok, my apologies.

      April 15, 2011 at 1:25 am |
    • blacksheep

      hoo... u too much read "start a cult", "the secret" and that darwin kids Richard Dawkins in "The Selfish Gene".

      April 15, 2011 at 2:56 am |
  16. PraiseTheLard

    I liked the woman in Florida who wanted to have her driver's license photo taken while she's wearing a Niqab...

    Apparently, when she previously lived in Illinois, she was able to get her driver's license with the head covering on...

    April 14, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
  17. JohnR

    If my religion says that I must go naked in public, surely that's my right, yes? How can you make my religious right a crime?

    I'm not really a fan of the burqa ban, but the facile assumption of rights gets more than a little annoying as well.

    April 14, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
  18. Kevin Harrison

    The burqa serves a valuable public perpose: it instantly identifies total idiots. Zealot Christians should have idiot-identification uniforms too.

    April 14, 2011 at 11:26 am |
    • MoHamMad

      LOL: I was thinking zambies.

      April 14, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
    • derp

      Are you calling ninjas stupid?

      April 14, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
    • TheId

      Whoa whoa whoa....you can ban burqas but DO NOT mess with ninjas. Never ever ends well.

      April 15, 2011 at 5:25 am |
    • Gary

      It always amazes me why the pitiful atheist leave themselves out of the equation of the population. If atheist Stalin, Mae, Pol Pot would have been able to see these "labels" on people they would have performed even more murders.

      April 15, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
    • Nancy


      April 16, 2011 at 9:27 am |
    • BJ

      Well, it's easy to identify idiots like you by comments like this. That's for sure.

      April 17, 2011 at 5:06 am |
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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.