France Bans Face-Covering Islamic Veil

Vanessa Estime

On the eleventh of April, France made history by becoming the first nation to outlaw Islamic veils anywhere in public for French citizens and visitors as well. It all started two years ago when French President Nicolas Sarkozy “set the wheels in motion for the ban, saying the veils imprison women and contradict this secular nation’s values of dignity and equality,” as quoted from the Associated Press.

According to the website Financial Times, “from last Monday, a woman wearing a niqab [a veil that completely covers a woman’s face except for her eyes] or the burka [a veil that has a mesh screen over the eyes] outside of her home or car could be detained by police, escorted to a police station, and fined one hundred and fifty euros. Already a few have been detained; many more are ready to engage in civil disobedience and defy the ban.”

Reports of those instances are coming in. Veiled women in front of Notre Dame Cathedral have been detained for participating in unauthorized protests and not vacating when told by officials. They were asserting that the ban infringes on their right of religion and expression. It was noted that the law was worded perfectly and avoided using “women,” “Muslim,” and “veil” in it to avoid legal issues.

According to the Associated Press, “the law says it is illegal to hide the face in the public space.” Moderate religious leaders are saying that it is alright for a woman not to wear a veil for it is not required by Islam; others religious leaders oppose the law completely, but are struggling in what to tell the faithful.

However, it is clear how some women feel about the ban. Kenza Drider, for example, calls the ban racist. “I will under no circumstances stop wearing my veil,” she said.