home
RSS
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. face

    I agree 100% with France for taking a stand against people who FORCE the burqa on their daughters/wives, but if someone chooses to wear it, it is certainly questionable. Would someone be permitted to wear a ski mask in public? People should have the right to wear what they please, if someone chooses to wear this, of their own free will, they should not be punished. The effort put into this could certainly be used elsewhere

    September 22, 2011 at 9:37 am |
    • claybigsby

      let france run their country the way they want. America needs to start worrying about America.

      September 22, 2011 at 9:38 am |
  2. Leo

    I've got no problem with almost anything folks want to wear... unless it covers your face. If your face is covered, you're essentially wearing a mask, making it impossible to identify you. I have coworkers who are Muslim women who dress modestly and wear hijabs. That doesn't bother me at all. I mean, heck, I wear a hood and scarf in the winter to keep warm, although I definitely take them off when I go inside where it's warm? And lots of women in all cultures like scarves. The Catholic nuns wear habits and veils, and nobody has a problem with that, do they?

    I agree – it seems twisted that people display themselves in all sorts of lewd ways, yet people who want to remain modest get in trouble for it. However, hiding your face isn't modesty... it's HIDING. That specifically runs contrary to western standards of showing your face as a means of identifying yourself. If I worked at a store, and some guy came in wearing a ski mask, I don't care if he threatens me or not... I'm calling the police. Same thing goes with anyone hiding their face.

    September 22, 2011 at 9:36 am |
  3. labandme

    Hopefully the authorities anticipated such action and are prepared to deal with it. Anyone could have told them that this would happen. I believe 100% in freedom but not in the case of the muslims. They are too dangerous.

    September 22, 2011 at 9:36 am |
    • Leo

      Then you DON'T believe 100% in freedom, do you?

      Hypocrite.

      September 22, 2011 at 9:37 am |
    • Diddly Squat

      Freedom for people who can act civilized. No freedom for Muslims. They've proven that they can't act civilized.

      September 22, 2011 at 9:43 am |
    • Indiana Man

      The Taliban is the enemy, not Muslims you fool! After 10 years since the attacks and you'd think our country would be a little more educated on foreign religions and issues. I can't believe fools like you people are walking around....but what would I expect. Most of americans are fools who have no idea what is really going on in the world. They just want to fight anyone whose belief is different.
      FOOLS FOOLS FOOLS!!!!

      September 22, 2011 at 9:45 am |
  4. Scott

    I bet they are the perfect shoplifters!

    September 22, 2011 at 9:36 am |
  5. Cubikrubik

    Great for French. We need these laws here. If you live in America so be American, don't bring your sh!t here in public.

    September 22, 2011 at 9:35 am |
    • claybigsby

      lol....you're not an american. What your saying goes against the first amendment rights of this country. Maybe christianity shouldnt be tax exempt anymore..

      September 22, 2011 at 9:37 am |
    • Cubikrubik

      claybigsby, amendment rights? Did you just crossed the border? Freedom of spbeech. FIY i am atheist and don't give a shnaps!

      September 22, 2011 at 9:51 am |
  6. us1776

    Islam is a highly disruptive religion.

    Islam purposely seeks to conflict with modern secular societies.

    Freedom to practice your religion means in church, temple or mosque. Not parading around in a garbage bag in public and compromising public security. Wears those burqas in your house. Not in public.

    .

    September 22, 2011 at 9:35 am |
  7. Kaffir

    They need to ban all muslim (terrorist uniform) garb. E.g

    -Disgusting islamic beards
    -Towels wrapped round heads
    -Idiotic pyjamas they seem to wear around the clock
    -Socks and sandles

    They also need to ban that idiotic moaning you hear every Friday and bending over on magic carpets in the middle of the street.

    September 22, 2011 at 9:35 am |
    • claybigsby

      too bad they can't ban retarded christians...

      September 22, 2011 at 9:40 am |
    • Leo

      Oh really? Let's look at this closer, shall we? You listed the following:

      "Disgusting islamic beards" ... So, shall we ban all beards? Orthodox Jews? Sikhs? Hippies? Old college English professors? It's a dang BEARD. Didn't Jesus have a beard?

      "-Towels wrapped round heads" ... So, Sikhs (who have nothing to do with Islam) can't wear their turbans? Maybe we should ban all hats. I mean... one hat is evil, so they're all evil, right?

      "-Idiotic pyjamas they seem to wear around the clock"... Oh, oh, I saw all these sorority girls at my old college wearing pajamas to class all the time. So idiotic! I agree! Ban the wearing of pajamas in public!

      "-Socks and sandles" ... "GADDAMM HIPPIES!!!: – Cartman

      September 22, 2011 at 9:41 am |
    • Dave

      And ban idiots like you from making such idiotic statements.

      September 22, 2011 at 9:42 am |
  8. lowfive

    all i have to say is if i were to travel to a country that required me to cover my face, i would. i wouldn't try to fight it and claim i was being discriminated against. "when in rome..." these women need to adapt to france's way of life or stay in a country that allows them to cover their faces in public. end of story.

    September 22, 2011 at 9:34 am |
    • murbani

      exactly. It's sickening.

      September 22, 2011 at 9:36 am |
  9. River

    I live in Belgium where a similar law has been passed. The woman in the office next to mine is ethnically, culturally, and citizenship-wise Belgian (well, Flemish). She is born in Belgium and raised as a Catholic. When she was 28, she converted to Islam and now always wears a Hijab, but sometimes she wears a Niqab. What country should she "return" to if she wants to follow her religion the way she interprets it?

    DMS: When the USA catches up with the rest of the world in banking technology, you'll find there is no longer any need for a bank teller. I lived the past 15 years in Norway and never went inside of a bank once. Is there any other lame excuse for "security" you can think of to try to justify your outdated form of clothing repression. Different century, same sh–t: everybody arguing about what women should and shouldn't wear.

    I went with my friend to a store that sells fashionable Niqabs and bought one for myself. I'm going to start wearing it in solidarity.

    September 22, 2011 at 9:34 am |
    • murbani

      You are already a Dhimmi. Good luck with that.

      September 22, 2011 at 9:37 am |
    • Anthony Q

      She's an idiot for converting to Islam. It's a made-up religion for people that have no hope to latch onto and believe in something because their lives aren't worth a rat's @ss.

      September 22, 2011 at 9:40 am |
    • claybigsby

      "It's a made-up religion"

      hmmm...kinda like any religion.

      September 22, 2011 at 9:42 am |
    • Q

      YOU GO GIRL!

      September 22, 2011 at 9:44 am |
    • Islamic Pork

      She can get on the first plane to some muslim land if she doesn't like the law.

      September 22, 2011 at 9:45 am |
    • Dennis

      River it is time for you to also convert to Islam.Then,as all women who practice this religion you can also become a second class citizen and be treated as such.

      September 22, 2011 at 9:54 am |
    • Scott Key

      Well, River, it's like this. Nowhere in the Koran does it say that a woman has to cover her face. Period. So, if a woman (or man) of any faith, political belief, or simply an eccentric decides to wear clothing that does not allow instant facial identification, they are outside the realm of common sense. It is reasonable to expect every citizen in a western country to be easily indentifiable by sight. They can cover all the rest of their body so as long as the face is visible. This falls in line with the Koran. Of course if individuals wish to live like life is lived, let's say, in Saudi Arabia, then they should consider the move. Otherwise, they must conform to the customs, culture and laws of their host country.

      September 22, 2011 at 10:00 am |
    • Scott Key

      As for your insulting comment about American banking practices, clearly your banking needs are so simple in your country that you need not enter a bank. Good for you. But should you understand anything about banking, it is a little more sophisticated in the USA. Notwithstanding, security is not the issue. Ability for authorities to instantly identify individuals is the issue. Religion in this matter is irrelevant since the facial coverings are not required by the Koran...so using religion in this matter is not valid. Try another argument, River.

      September 22, 2011 at 10:08 am |
  10. George

    FRANCE....do not back down. We in the U.S. support you 100%. Keep the ban, collect the fines, and be happy. If they are not happy they should go where the law says you cannot be uncovered.

    September 22, 2011 at 9:34 am |
  11. Meh

    Id say they all gave up their rights when they started professing to be terrorists against humanity

    September 22, 2011 at 9:33 am |
    • claybigsby

      who's they? Are you saying that all 1.2 BILLION muslims are terrorists?

      September 22, 2011 at 9:43 am |
  12. Sigh

    The law is not an "anti-muslim" law. It applies to anyone of any religion that covers their face for whatever reason.

    If I belonged to a religion that said every other Tuesday I have to walk around naked in the city square then I'd be arrested for exposing myself in public, not for my particular religion. Anyone else who didn't belong to my religion that walked around naked would be arrested also.

    (okay, maybe it does target Muslims more than others...but until I can go to Saudi Arabia in a short skirt, I'll view things as posted above)

    September 22, 2011 at 9:33 am |
    • ImpishLisa

      I hate how one tiny group calls it wrong for them, when the DISGUISE ability (hello, they have CAUGHT men in these things trying to escape detection) is at the root. I am sorry, Muslims, but it is not a religious issue, it is a safety one. I don't want people coming to america that aren't here to melt with my american melting pot. They will never make me accept their encasement needs that are ancient history: like stoning sinners and human sacrifices.

      September 22, 2011 at 9:40 am |
    • claybigsby

      "I hate how one tiny group calls it wrong for them,"

      First, Islam is not a "tiny group". If you consider 1.2 BILLION people a tiny group you are more brainwashed that I thought.

      "I am sorry, Muslims, but it is not a religious issue, it is a safety one. I don't want people coming to america that aren't here to melt with my american melting pot. "

      yes this is a religious issue. Their religion requires this. and when you say " I don't want people coming to america that aren't here to melt with my american melting pot." you really mean "I dont want people coming to america that aren't here to convert to christianity. Fact is we have religious freedoms in this country that not many countries have. This country is not a christian nation, never has been, never will be. If you dont like it, go to a country that respects the establishment of the christian religion, because this country does not respect the establishment of any national religion.

      September 22, 2011 at 9:53 am |
    • Scott Key

      To Claybigsby: READ...
      Nowhere in the Koran does it say that a woman has to cover her face. Period. So, if a woman (or man) of any faith, political belief, or simply an eccentric decides to wear clothing that does not allow instant facial identification, they are outside the realm of common sense. It is reasonable to expect every citizen in a western country to be easily indentifiable by sight. They can cover all the rest of their body so as long as the face is visible. This falls in line with the Koran. Of course if individuals wish to live like life is lived, let's say, in Saudi Arabia, then they should consider the move. Otherwise, they must conform to the customs, culture and laws of their host country.

      September 22, 2011 at 10:21 am |
  13. Nacho1

    LET ME SEE YOUR EYES AND YOUR MOUTH! Let me see your face. I don't trust you!

    September 22, 2011 at 9:33 am |
  14. cabinessence

    1. This is a safety issue. Surely, after 9/11, she would understand this.
    2. I can't believe a country has the courage to enact this law, especially since the world has gone PC mad at the expense of common sense.
    3. Someone needs to tell her that France (and other like-minded civilized countries) afford her more rights as both a person and woman than Middle Eastern countries.
    4. Don't force your religion on anyone, lady. If it's a hardship for you to wear a burqa and wear your religious garb, move to a place where it's not illegal or a hardship.

    September 22, 2011 at 9:31 am |
    • allah-is-so-fake

      Watch out concise well thought out statements like this will get you labeled as a bigot

      September 22, 2011 at 9:39 am |
  15. SliderX69

    Go back to your own country and wear what ever you want, a law was passed because you make us feel un comfortable.
    Hell lets have everyone walk around wearing ski mask and trench coats.

    September 22, 2011 at 9:30 am |
  16. Kate

    Why do you say these people should go back to "their" country. They are very likely born and brought up in France, as their parents may have been. Perhaps in the US all Christians should go back to "their" country, as it certainly didn't start out as the US. Although I am not a lover of the burqha or other Muslim garb, their point that women can walk around half naked and not be fined is valid.

    September 22, 2011 at 9:30 am |
    • allah-is-so-fake

      Half naked is the preference of most hetero men. Beaten to a pulp is the preference of most hetero Muslim men.

      September 22, 2011 at 9:41 am |
    • Jacques

      That is a very good response and you have a valid point. However, please note that from a security point of view, not being able to see a person's face is a disadvantage. France didn't ban wearing Muslim clothing. They banned the clothing with veils. I am sure if some new peaceful religion pops out in the next decade and requests their followers to cover their face , this ban applies to them too.

      September 22, 2011 at 9:53 am |
    • Dennis

      Then it is time to become French in nationality.8th century beliefs are too outdated for living in todays world.Maybe they will ban them from speaking Arabic also.Until these people adapt to the Western ideas of the country they live in,they will be outcasts in democratic societies.Don't you know that if you break laws in Islamic countries you will be punished,caned,incarcerated,or fined according to their laws?..Go with the flow or get going.All of the world does not think as one society.Glad to know France stands up to these extremist beliefs.

      September 22, 2011 at 10:12 am |
    • Scott Key

      Kate, I agree with you in part. The use of the phrase, "they should go back to their country" is inappropriate to the discussion at best and veiled bigotry at the least. The issue as I have said above is one of being able to be identified by authorities. It has been made to be an issue of religion, when in fact, nowhere in the Koran does it state that women should cover their faces (or even hair, for that matter). It simply states that they dress modestly. The current styles that cover women were not something they chose for themselves, but rather, imposed by the men in the Arab culture. Unfortunately, now it is identified with the Muslim faith.

      September 22, 2011 at 10:32 am |
  17. Dave

    Even though I don't agree with Muslim traditions and rules I think they have the right to practice whatever they want. What I don't agree with is when they bring those practices to other countries and expect those countries to change their rules for them. If you decide to relocate anywhere in the world you should be prepared to, as they say, "do as the Romans do". Each country has the right to make their own rules as they see fit. It's up to us as individuals to decide what rules are reasonable to follow. If French law is unreasonable...it's time for you to move. The French have a right to disagree with Muslim tradition.

    September 22, 2011 at 9:30 am |
    • SliderX69

      I agree.

      September 22, 2011 at 9:32 am |
    • ImpishLisa

      Ditto to Dave

      September 22, 2011 at 9:41 am |
    • allah-is-so-fake

      So my religion requires me to wear a trenchcoat and a ski mask. All's fair huh?

      September 22, 2011 at 9:42 am |
    • Joel

      In Saudi Arabia don't women HAVE to cover up or get in trouble? Hence following the local laws? Not sure. Anyone confirm this for me?

      September 22, 2011 at 10:00 am |
  18. steeve-o

    When they discover how ugly the French women are in comparison to the Muslim women, maybe they'll repeal the headscarf ban.

    September 22, 2011 at 9:30 am |
  19. che

    The bad news is that in Islamic countries, they will force women to wear that life sucking garment.
    Unless the West ceases to be relativsitic, it will not be able to stand the war of ideas.

    September 22, 2011 at 9:29 am |
    • Scared to Go back

      I'm a christian,, I lived in Iraq, I had to follow Islamic laws, on occassions Christian women were forced in some areas to cover up even though that was not part of practice. I faced religios persecution , I was harrassed because of my faith, if you pay close attention to the news you will see the muslims are slaughtering alot of Christians and non muslims, yet the muslims come to the west and expect equality...

      September 22, 2011 at 9:47 am |
  20. Tom

    The Muslims come here and want reasonable accommodation. They want us to bow down to their law and customs. However they grant no such accommodation in the Muslim countries and a woman can be stoned, jailed or worse for not covering her hair. Secretary of State Clinton has to put a scarf on her head when in many of these countries. They chose to come to the west. Then they need to follow the traditions of the west. I am tired of people coming to our countries and expecting us to kiss their butts.

    September 22, 2011 at 9:29 am |
    • Kate

      How do you know that they "came here". How do you know that they aren't as French as the person walking next to them, but have decided to follow a religion that requires them to dress a certain way. Should we tell the traditional Jews (who I apologise I can't remember the name for) that they can't wear their black hats and have long pointy beards?

      September 22, 2011 at 9:32 am |
    • gremlinus

      I'm with Kate. Do we tell Pentecostals they have to cut their hair? Or them and other groups that they have to let women be clergy? Do we tell mormons they can't practice polygamy? And we are a secular country, many of those countries are ruled by religious governments. In theory a secular government shouldn't have an opinion on a religious mode of dress.

      September 22, 2011 at 9:36 am |
    • billy in brooklyn

      And while we're at it let's also kick out the Amish, Mennonites and Hasidic Jews who cover their heads too.

      September 22, 2011 at 9:38 am |
    • Tom

      Your right Kate and gremlinus , My mistake, everyone knows France is a traditional Muslim country and most of the Muslims are French. What was I thinking?

      September 22, 2011 at 9:40 am |
    • hikergirl

      It's not a religious requirement. That is why the Canadian Muslim Congress is asking for a ban on the wearing of the burka and niqab in Canada.

      September 22, 2011 at 9:41 am |
    • BeFair

      if we tell a women going half naked or in France even naked to put on some clothes then how can you tell a women not to put on something that might be mandated by her faith......we need to be rational.

      September 22, 2011 at 9:47 am |
    • matt

      @gremlinus

      yes, we do tell mormons they cant practice polygamy. it has been illegal for 100 years.

      September 22, 2011 at 9:51 am |
    • Scott Key

      Again Kate, and Gremlinus....it is not a matter off religious garb. It is a issue of easy identification. It stands to reason that if I don't cover my face, the authorities can identify me without disrupting my day. And again, no where in the Koran does it state that women must cover their faces (or even hair) to be good Muslims. They are required to be modest. Surely, this is simple to understand, isn't it?

      September 22, 2011 at 10:57 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16
Advertisement
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.