French draft bill to fine burqa-wearing women

8th January 2010, Comments 4 comments

The leader of the governing UMP party in the National Assembly is drafting up a bill that will fine Muslim women up to EUR 750 for wearing a burqa.

Paris – Muslim women who wear the full Islamic veil in France will face a possible EUR 750 fine, according to a draft bill unveiled Thursday by the leader of the parliamentary majority.

Jean-Francois Cope, who heads the governing UMP party in the National Assembly, told Le Figaro newspaper's weekly magazine that men who force their wives to wear the burqa or niqab could face an even heavier fine.

"The law will address an issue of security," Cope said in an interview with the magazine.

"The proposed measure would prohibit the covering of the face in public places and on the streets, with the exception of special cultural events or carnivals."

The draft legislation will be presented in the next two weeks and should come up for debate in parliament after the March regional elections, he said.

The majority leader, who is also openly campaigning to succeed President Nicolas Sarkozy as the right-wing candidate for the presidency in 2017, said the burqa must be banned to defend women's rights.

"We can measure the modernity of a society by the way it treats and respects women," he said.

France's political establishment is divided on whether to ban the burqa, with the opposition Socialists this week saying that it opposed a law even though Muslim women must be discouraged from wearing the full veil.

The burqa debate has heated up ahead of the release at the end of the month of a much-awaited report by a parliamentary panel that has conducted six months of hearings on the issue.

Many politicians from the left and right have cautioned that a draconian law banning the head-to-toe veil would be difficult to enforce and probably face a challenge in the European rights court.

Sarkozy himself has said that the burqa is not welcome in France but has not stated publicly whether legislation should be enacted.

Critics argue that a specific law enacted to ban the full veil would be tantamount to using a sledgehammer to swat a fly. Only 1,900 women wear the full veil in France, according to the interior ministry.

In the interview, Cope argued that a law would act as a deterrent by sending a "clear message" that France will not allow women to fully cover themselves.

AFP / Expatica

4 Comments To This Article

  • steve posted:

    on 11th January 2010, 12:24:02 - Reply

    You have much experience in this area that I do not. However, it is also true that kidnap victims often become slavishly devoted to their captors and want nothing other than to please. Patty Hurst is perhaps the most well known.
    The proposal is high-handed but do you really believe that our efforts to 'educate' will work when there are men of violence keeping these women down? I'm afraid I don't - and I would normally be the biggest advocate of using education to prevail. As for tolerance, is this for the oppressed females or the oppressing males? It is tolerance - some would say apathy - that permitted the rise of Hitler and his henchmen. In that case Churchill was one of only a few souls who saw that tolerance was anything but the right answer. Of course that is an extreme example but if forcing women to cover themselves for deeply dubious reasons was allowed to progress unchecked, might it not one day be forced on all our children? A tiny acorn does grow into a huge tree - it takes years but it does happen.
  • Sara posted:

    on 10th January 2010, 22:11:28 - Reply

    Hi Steve, I said I certainly do not condone the forced covering up of women. I worked for the medical foundation for victims of torture , women's' aid , and with refugees in the past I have also lived in the Middle East. I have helped women fleeing from persecution and violence. I di however come across - strange as it may seem to you - who did wish to cover themselves. I just think that it a very high handed and arrogant approach to a sensitive subject. The best way is through education and tolerance is it not?
  • steve posted:

    on 9th January 2010, 14:29:58 - Reply

    In most cases they cannot choose for themselves. Because they are severely dealt with if they flout the 'code' (more nonsense invented by insecure men) they have little choice. How has that got anything to do with free speech? As for it being patronising to assume that many of these women have any choices at all in some areas..... words fail me. Have you any idea what happens to them if they disobey?????
    I still wonder that it might not be somewhat over-the-top to ban the covering of faces - what happens if you want to wear a balaclava in cold weather?
  • Sara posted:

    on 8th January 2010, 14:29:02 - Reply

    whilst I do not condone the forced wearing of the burka I think women should have the choice if they wish to wear it. It is patrinising to asume that they can not choose for themselves. I am a feminist and not religous but believe in free speech and to wear what one wishes whether it is a mini skirt or to be coverred up