September 22nd, 2011
03:56 AM ET

Burqa ban opponent fined by French court

By Saskya Vandoorne, CNN

(CNN) - A woman fighting France's ban on Islamic face coverings was fined 120 euros ($162) Thursday for wearing a burqa, the first fine handed down by a French court over the controversial law.

Hind Ahmas sought out the punishment so she could take her fight to a higher court, she told CNN. A second woman, Najet Ait Ali, was fined 80 euros ($108) in the same court appearance.

"I am happy to be fined, since I can now take this to the European Court of Human Rights," Ahmas said.

"It's not about the amount I have to pay. It's about the principle," she said, calling the ban "pure provocation. I'm fighting to be able to walk freely in the street."

Rachid Nekkaz, of a group called Don't Touch My Constitution, later turned up at the courthouse with a check to cover the cost of each fine, offering to pay the penalty for every woman fined for wearing a face covering.

The court hearing came after the website of the city of Rennes was defaced by a hacker in protest at the burqa ban and a ban on public street prayers that went into effect last Friday.

"You allow women to walk around half-naked but you don't allow Muslim women to cover their body? Shame on you France, Muslims are people too," read a message posted on the city website.

The site was attacked at about 6 p.m. Monday night and was operating normally again about 24 hours later, said city spokesman Manuel Contin, who said he did not know why Rennes was targeted.

The court did not explain why the two women got different fines. They were not ordered to take citizenship courses - another possible sentence under the law that came into effect in April.

They were arrested May 5.

A woman wearing a burqa and three wearing hijabs - which do not cover the face and so are not illegal - came to court to hear the verdict. There was also a small but noticeable police presence at the municipal courthouse in Meaux, east of Paris.

Ahmas and Ali are not the first women to be fined under the controversial ban.

Police in the Paris suburb of Yvelines issued an on-the-spot fine that was believed to be the nation's first punishment for breaking the law the day it went into effect.

A 28-year-old woman was fined 150 euros (about $215) April 11, according to police.

Police declined to specify whether the woman was wearing a burqa, a full-body covering that includes a mesh over the face, or a niqab, a full-face veil with an opening for the eyes.

Both are banned by the new French law, which has drawn criticism from some human rights and religious organizations and some Muslims as discriminatory. France has Western Europe's largest Muslim population.

Police in Paris arrested two veiled women April 11, but said those arrests were for participating in an unapproved demonstration.

The law allows women who are cited for wearing an illegal veil to pay the fine or perform community service. It reserves harsher treatment for anyone who forces a person to wear a veil. That is punishable by a year in prison and a 30,000 euro fine (about $43,300). Forcing a minor to wear the veil is punishable by two years in prison and 60,000 euros.

Authorities say the prohibition is necessary for national security reasons as well as to uphold French values of equality, dignity and national identity.

The French Constitutional Council said the law does not impose disproportionate punishments or prevent the free exercise of religion in a place of worship, finding therefore that "the law conforms to the Constitution."

But critics argue the government has no business telling people what clothes to wear or how to practice their religion.

"I am free to do whatever I want and this is a choice that I want to make," wrote Hebah Ahmed, a blogger. "And just because somebody doesn't accept my interpretation of Islam or personally like it doesn't mean that we can use laws to violate people's freedom of expression and freedom of religion."

–CNN's France Costrel contributed to this report.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: France • Islam

soundoff (692 Responses)
  1. pete w

    if you want to wear a burqa go back home, in the us you cant enter any gov., post office and most banks if you cant be visibly identified. when you leave your home country, for whatever reason , either accept and adapt your behavior to your new surroundings or stay where you are.

    September 22, 2011 at 11:11 am |
    • JohnQuest

      That is not the same and I think you know it, the US does not ban Burqa's or any other religious clothing. The same rules apply to all not just one group, no one can walk into those places with there faces covered, unlike the French laws that targets only one group (or one type of religious expression). If the law covered everyone equally we would not be having a discussion.

      September 22, 2011 at 11:19 am |
  2. Reality

    Saving this very sweaty lady and all of her Muslim sisters:

    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)
    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..

    September 22, 2011 at 11:09 am |
  3. sa

    Live in Rome as Romans do! If not leave the country you idiots!!

    September 22, 2011 at 11:08 am |
    • Kamran

      You bet!

      September 22, 2011 at 11:57 am |
  4. John Lane

    Good for her. Now what about the women in Islamic countries – whether they are muslims, christians, atheists, some other religion or people who just want to do their own thing – who DON'T want to wear a burqua and want the freedom to NOT do that. What about them?

    September 22, 2011 at 11:06 am |
    • xasianzombie

      they shouldnt be forced to wear anything either. taliban is on one extreme and france is on the other. there needs to be a middle ground

      September 22, 2011 at 11:07 am |
  5. guest

    @myweightsworth, if your a citizen of this country pay the penalty, prison I hope. Hey! Just think, if they were sent to prison, or just jail, do you think tthey would be wearing a burqa? I think not.By the way, wasn't there a case of that sort in the news not long ago?

    September 22, 2011 at 10:58 am |
  6. To the ignorant

    This article really upsets me. And all of you posting about Muslim's needing to follow laws or go back to their country? What day and age do you people live in, its 2011 if you have not noticed. Since 9/11 the muslim community has been faced with so much hatred but more so ignorance. How can a country prevent someone from practicing their religion?? The government going as far as telling someone what they can or cannot wear is going way too far, especially if their clothing represents their religion. More so, most people have no idea what the Quran or Islam religion is about. I am a Hindu, and you have any idea how many times someone has called me a terrorist? Look at a map people, we are not terrorists. How many christians/catholics/whites have molested children in church, blown up buildings, shot up schools..what is being done to prevent those incidents from happening again? government cant identify those people as wearing hijabs or burqa's so they choose to have higher security measures and more public awareness and education. SO why not the same here. Can France REALLY not think of other ways to prevent terrorism? As far as france wanting this law for criminal identification purposes.. why not pass a law stating that if asked a woman must reveal her face from her burqa-for identification purposes? Or something a little less violating. People who don't come from a culture, cannot fathom what a violation this is. Think before you speak people

    September 22, 2011 at 10:54 am |

      you are right its not just Muslims its any nut job willing to believe in any religion. these people have faith which is irrational and unreasonable. we eliminate religion most of our worlds problems will go away. and about your Christians molesting kids... i would have rather been molested as a child than blown up

      September 22, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • RossTrex

      So a Law passed and approved being defied is perfectly resonable as long as you are doing it for religous reasons. Islam murders people on a daily basis and you are crying about the Burka? Why are you not outraged at the terrorists that cause us all to live in a "violated" state? Now here are two days of Peace from your Religion of Peace.

      2011.09.20 (Kabul, Afghanistan) – The head of a peace council is killed by a Shahid who hid the bomb in his turban.
      2011.09.20 (Quetta, Pakistan) – Three mourners, traveling to pick up bodies from an earlier Sunni ambush, are gunned down in route.
      2011.09.20 (Mastung, Pakistan) – Twenty-six Shia pilgrims are pulled off a bus, lined up and executed by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi Sunnis..
      2011.09.20 (Ramadi, Iraq) – Three Fedayeen suicide bombers murder four Iraqis at a government complex.
      2011.09.19 (Aqcha, Afghanistan) – A brutal suicide attack leaves four dead, including a woman and her child.
      2011.09.19 (Karachi, Pakistan) – A teacher and her 8-year-old child are among eight who lose their lives to a Tehreek-e-Taliban suicide bombing outside a house.

      September 22, 2011 at 11:08 am |
    • Scalouchy

      Comprehend before you post.... They can still wear their gown from head to toe and wrap it around again 100xs if they wish, they just can not go around public places and hide their faces, you know that one thing that will identify who they are should they commit any crimes or be at a public place where a crime was committed. SECURITY REASONS THAT WE ALL HAVE TO FOLLOW NOT JUST THEM. This is the biggest oppression against women who have to hide their beauty so MEN do not get tempted and they leave their country to be free and still want to carry that oppression, it makes no sense at all!

      September 22, 2011 at 11:22 am |
    • sue

      I 100% agree with this post! We have really become uninformed, uneducated, intolerant people haven't we? It is frightening. When will people understand that Muslim and terrorist are NOT the same terms!!! Muslim and Middle Eastern are NOT the same terms!!! Muslims can come from any country (i.e. Bosnia, France and the good ole USA!) Many people here suggest that Muslims should "go back to their own country". Define for me where Muslim is on the map.

      September 22, 2011 at 11:31 am |
    • Just a woman

      Its very right low here in Saudi Arabia we women have to wear abaya and burga and no one asking us we wanna or no we just doing by low so why they don't wanna live in our countries by our rules or they are special one, she just should shut up and do what low is telling like we are doing in Saudi Arabia...

      September 22, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
  7. Metal Icarus

    The ethics of this is far more complicated than it seems. I tried to come up with a supportive comment but relating it to my personal experience states that Burqa's are fine when they don't cover up the face. Then it is just a fancy dress. I would be more comfortable with it if they didn't cover the head at all, but w/e.

    Also, here in Minnesota, I couldn't expect them to not cover their face in the dead of winter, then again, I would expect them to take off their face mask indoors like everyone else.

    In the end, this was a democratically voted law that has been put into effect. They must abide or try to get the popular vote to take it down. Complain all they want, there is a process.

    September 22, 2011 at 10:52 am |

    i could see Muslims getting up set if all believers in the faith had to wear these get ups. but they don't only the women do, so why would these women argue and fight for their right to be considered equal and to wear what they want, when what they are fighting to wear is directly related to their religion not viewing them as equal? it makes not sense

    September 22, 2011 at 10:51 am |
  9. Scalouchy

    Great Law!!!!! No where did it state that you have to walk around naked "like some of the French women". It simply stated that you CAN'T cover your face which not only applies to MUSLIM WOMEN but to ALL (WOMEN, MEN FROM ALL RELIGIONS AND BACKGROUNDS) due to security reasons. Which, BTW, Muslims have no one else to blame but themselves for their radicals and extremists beliefs) Sorry, but who knows who is really under that BURQA carrying god knows what under that STENCH HOLDING GOWN. You moved out of your god forsaken country to be free but freedom doesnt mean you can break the laws either, or be excused from following it simply because you are MUSLIM. Imagine, that then every criminal and their mothers would be wearing one too to get away with murder... SORRY LADIES, TAKE IT BACK TO YOUR COUNTRY IF YOU DO NOT LIKE IT HERE!!!!!

    September 22, 2011 at 10:50 am |
    • Kamran

      I second that!

      September 22, 2011 at 11:30 am |
  10. Mathilda

    Muslims don't give anyone any freedom in their land. Muslims should leave France if they don't like the law.

    September 22, 2011 at 10:47 am |
    • Kamran

      I second that !

      September 22, 2011 at 11:31 am |
  11. posthere

    go france

    September 22, 2011 at 10:47 am |
    • posthere

      Islam is not a religion, nor is it a cult. In its fullest form, it is a complete, total, 100% system of life.

      Islam has religious, legal, political, economic, social, and military
      components. The religious component is a beard for all of the other components.

      Islamization begins when there are sufficient Muslims in a country to
      agitate for their religious privileges.

      When politically correct, tolerant, and culturally diverse societies agree to Muslim demands for their religious privileges, some of the other components tend to creep in as well.

      Here's how it works:

      As long as the Muslim population remains around or under 2% in any given country, they will be for the most part be regarded as a peace-loving
      minority, and not as a threat to other citizens. This is the case in:

      United States - Muslim 0.6%
      Australia - Muslim 1.5%
      Canada - Muslim 1.9%
      China - Muslim 1.8%
      Italy - Muslim 1.5%
      Norway - Muslim 1.8%

      At 2% to 5%, they begin to proselytize from other ethnic minorities and
      disaffected groups, often with major recruiting from the jails and among
      street gangs. This is happening in:

      Denmark - Muslim 2%
      Germany - Muslim 3.7%
      United Kingdom - Muslim 2.7%
      Spain - Muslim 4%
      Thailand - Muslim 4.6%

      From 5% on, they exercise an inordinate influence in proportion to their
      percentage of the population. For example, they will push for the
      introduction of halal (clean by Islamic standards) food, thereby securing food preparation jobs for Muslims. They will increase pressure on supermarket chains to feature halal on their shelves - along with threats for failure to comply. This is occurring in:

      France - Muslim 8%
      Philippines - 5%
      Sweden - Muslim 5%
      Switzerland - Muslim 4.3%
      The Netherlands - Muslim 5.5%
      Trinidad & Tobago - Muslim 5.8%

      At this point, they will work to get the ruling government to allow them
      to rule themselves (within their ghettos) under Sharia, the Islamic Law. The ultimate goal of Islamists is to establish Sharia law over the entire world.

      When Muslims approach 10% of the population, they tend to increase
      lawlessness as a means of complaint about their conditions. In Paris, we
      are already seeing car-burnings. Any non-Muslim action offends Islam and
      results in uprisings and threats, such as in Amsterdam, with opposition
      to Mohammed cartoons and films about Islam. Such tensions are seen
      daily, particularly in Muslim sections in:

      Guyana - Muslim 10%
      India - Muslim 13.4%
      Israel - Muslim 16%
      Kenya - Muslim 10%
      Russia - Muslim 15%

      After reaching 20%, nations can expect hair-trigger rioting, jihad militia formations, sporadic killings, and the burnings of Christian churches and Jewish synagogues, such as in:

      September 22, 2011 at 10:48 am |
    • posthere

      Ethiopia - Muslim 32.8%

      At 40%, nations experience widespread massacres, chronic terror attacks, and ongoing militia warfare, such as in:

      Bosnia - Muslim 40%
      Chad - Muslim 53.1%
      Lebanon - Muslim 59.7%

      From 60%, nations experience unfettered persecution of non-believers of all other religions (including non-conforming Muslims), sporadic ethnic cleansing (genocide), use of Sharia Law as a weapon, and Jizya, the tax
      placed on infidels, such as in:

      Albania - Muslim 70%
      Malaysia - Muslim 60.4%
      Qatar - Muslim 77.5%
      Sudan - Muslim 70%

      After 80%, expect daily intimidation and violent jihad, some State-run
      ethnic cleansing, and even some genocide, as these nations drive out the
      infidels, and move toward 100% Muslim, such as has been experienced and in some ways is on-going in:

      Bangladesh - Muslim 83%
      Egypt - Muslim 90%
      Gaza - Muslim 98.7%
      Indonesia - Muslim 86.1%
      Iran - Muslim 98%
      Iraq - Muslim 97%
      Jordan - Muslim 92%
      Morocco - Muslim 98.7%
      Pakistan - Muslim 97%
      Palestine - Muslim 99%
      Syria - Muslim 90%
      Tajikistan - Muslim 90%
      Turkey - Muslim 99.8%
      United Arab Emirates - Muslim 96%

      100% will usher in the peace of 'Dar-es-Salaam' - the Islamic House of
      Peace. Here there's supposed to be peace, because everybody is a Muslim, the Madrasses are the only schools, and the Koran is the only word, such as in:

      Afghanistan - Muslim 100%
      Saudi Arabia - Muslim 100%
      Somalia - Muslim 100%
      Yemen - Muslim 100%

      Unfortunately, peace is never achieved, as in these 100% states the most
      radical Muslims intimidate and spew hatred, and satisfy their blood lust
      by killing less radical Muslims, for a variety of reasons.

      'Before I was nine, I had learned the basic canon of Arab life. It was me
      against my brother; me and my brother against our father; my family
      against my cousins and the clan; the clan against the tribe; the tribe
      against the world, and all of us against the infidel. - Leon Uris, 'The Haj'

      It is important to understand that in some countries, with well under
      100% Muslim populations, such as France, the minority Muslim populations live in ghettos, within which they are 100% Muslim, and within which they live by Sharia Law. The national police do not even enter these ghettos. There are no national courts, nor schools, nor non-Muslim
      religious facilities. In such situations, Muslims do not integrate into the community at large. The children attend madrasses. They learn only the Koran. To even associate with an infidel is a crime punishable with death. Therefore, in some areas of certain nations, Muslim Imams and extremists exercise more power than the national average would indicate.

      Today's 1.5 billion Muslims make up 22% of the world's population. But
      their birth rates dwarf the birth rates of Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, and all other believers. Muslims will exceed 50% of the world's population by the end of this century.

      Well, boys and girls, today we are letting the fox guard the henhouse.
      The wolves will be herding the sheep!

      September 22, 2011 at 10:49 am |
    • angelic

      what you said is so true, i don't know why people fail to realize this!

      September 22, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • fuzzball

      There should be a boredom limit on the comments. Anyways your entire comment is flawed on the basis of two facts. There is not even a single majority non-Muslim country in the world no matter what the minority Muslim population is where Sharia law is enacted officially in any shape or form. There is I think only one Muslim country, Saudi Arabia, out of 52 where Sharia law is enacted.

      September 22, 2011 at 11:11 am |
    • Facto

      Good facts, thanks!

      September 22, 2011 at 11:15 am |
    • posthere

      @dustball or whatever before you comment you should back it up with research like I will below:

      Countries using strict forms of Sharia Law include:

      Death for Blasphemy:

      1. Afghanistan
      2. Bahrain
      3. Iran
      4. Mauritania
      5. Oman
      6. Pakistan
      7. Yemen
      8. Saudi Arabia
      9. Gaza

      Imprisonment for Blasphemy:

      1. Algeria
      2. Bangladesh
      3. Egypt
      4. Iraq
      5. Kuwait
      6. Libya
      7. Malaysia
      8. Maldives
      9. Morocco
      10. Somalia
      11. Tunisia
      12. United Arab Emirates

      September 22, 2011 at 11:43 am |
  12. Mathilda

    Yes, Muslims should stop fussing about it. It's not an even essential Islamic doctrine. They just like bothering naive Westerners because secular Westerners look duh. People don't feel safe about those all-covered humans.

    September 22, 2011 at 10:46 am |
  13. Food for thought...

    PS and why did they and so many others flee in the first place? If Sharia law is so wonderful, instead of terrorizing all of their neighbors, why don't they go back to where they came from and bask in all of it's glory...

    September 22, 2011 at 10:42 am |
    • angelic

      exactly, God they are such hypocrites aren't they!!

      September 22, 2011 at 10:57 am |
  14. Jean

    I agree with many other posts too.........you are in France now, abide by their laws. If not, then you are free to move back to the country you are from. Westerns have to abide by your laws in the middle east, you can do the same while living in France or any other Western country.

    September 22, 2011 at 10:42 am |
  15. guest

    @Rafael, Yes, they are diffrent than we are! They are crying: freedom, where are our rights, well 50-70 years down the road you will be crying at the Muslims, where are my rights and they will tell you that Issalm is your only right.

    September 22, 2011 at 10:41 am |
  16. Wastrel

    It's an anti-Muslim law. We need more anti-Muslim laws.

    September 22, 2011 at 10:40 am |
    • a true muslim

      so u people wanna say dat christian law is very good..........ya it is such a good law where women can move naked ........... so shameless n so characterless................they share themself with the whole world..........u call that freedom......no its not its the limit of shamelessness!!!!

      September 22, 2011 at 11:13 am |
  17. Wanderer

    Pay your fine and stfu or do you prefer we adopt sharia law and just beat the snot out of you

    September 22, 2011 at 10:40 am |
  18. Smile

    Where it comes to dressing, Modesty is the policy.

    We don't want to see low riding pants nor do we want to see black tombs walking around.

    Lets see that SMILE people.

    Smile makes the world go around!!!

    September 22, 2011 at 10:40 am |
  19. eddantes

    The French goverment is not asking you to show your breasts, just your face ladies.

    Some Muslim women are beautiful, show your faces ladies, come on!

    September 22, 2011 at 10:39 am |
    • Saminu abdullahi

      U have 2 sayn reasonable thn o shortup ur mouth

      September 22, 2011 at 10:50 am |
    • eddantes


      September 22, 2011 at 10:57 am |
  20. Ms Kira

    Well, If American or European women go to the Middle East we are required to wear the hijab.. If you go to Saudia Arabia you are REQUIRED to wear the face covering..... It's not infringing on our rights its the law of that country. If you don't like it don't go there. In France it is illegal to cover your face in public. I think that is a reasonable request.... If you don't like it move out of France...

    September 22, 2011 at 10:38 am |
    • fuzzball

      Wrong. Saudi Arabia does not require non-Muslim women to cover their faces. They only ask to dress modestly even without covering their head.

      September 22, 2011 at 11:19 am |
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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.