French couple in Britain in legal challenge to veil ban

A French Muslim husband and wife living in Britain are to challenge France’s ban on full-face coverings at the European Court of Human Rights. The couple lodged an application at the Strasbourg court to challenge the French government over the ban on wearing Islamic veils, which they argue is “unnecessary, disproportionate and unlawful.”

They claim it restricts their right to free movement across the EU, according to documents sent to the court. The wife is seeking £10,000 (11,200 euros, $16,400) in damages for the alleged human rights breach. The couple live in central England with their two children. They have chosen to remain anonymous, citing “considerable hostility” in Britain and France to Muslim women wearing the full veil in public.

In the latest case, the documents sent to Strasbourg say the couple want to “reside and work in France” but the ban means “they have considerable reservations about living there on a permanent basis.” The principal applicant is the husband who “expects and instructs” his wife to wear the burqa and the niqab. But she “respects and follows” her husband’s instructions of her own free will, the Strasbourg court is being told. Her lawyers argue Muslim women in France are “not able to exercise their rights free from coercion, harassment and discrimination.”