Some British tabloids reported that a French Muslim couple use ‘British taxpayer cash’ (Daily Mail) to fight the burqa ban in France. Following the introduction of the ban in April this year, the couple moved to Britain to avoid consequences from the new legislation. Now based in the West Midlands, the couple utilized the British Immigration Advisory Service, a free legal service supported through taxes, to challenge the French ban at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Not only do they see their freedom of choice restricted; they also consider the ban to restrict their free movement rights within the EU, as they cannot live and work in the country of their choice – while also freely manifesting their religious beliefs in public. The couple’s case leaves the Immigration Advisory Service in a difficult position. According to a spokesman, the IAS mainly represents asylum seekers and other migrants who cannot afford legal aid privately. Furthermore, the Service only gave legal aid to cases involving British law and concerned with immigration. Even if IAS decided to represent the couple, the service would not be paid for by legal aid.
December 9th, 2010
The new Civic Ordinance prohibiting the wearing of the burqa and the niqab in buildings and municipal facilities enters into force in Lleida. The offenders face fines of up to 600 euros.
The socialist mayor claims to be proud that “Lleida is the first city in Spain that regulates clearly an element of discrimination against women”. Members of the city’s Muslim community are concerned with this violation of basic rights and discrimination on religious grounds (the Muslim Cultural Association Watani has presented a claim to the Catalonia Superior Court of Justice demanding the provisional suspension of the Ordinance but it has not succeeded), while others claim that, as few women wear full veil, the lack of mosques is instead a major concern, as the only mosque in the city exceeds its capacity.
December 3 2010
Home Affairs Minister Piet Hein Donner considered the implications of a burqa ban in his comments to MPs on Thursday. Donner noted his attempt to draft “legislation on face-covering which will apply to all Dutch nationals”. While this outlaws the burqa, the minister noted he still has “to decide how far to go” with motorbike helmets, carnival costumes, and balaclavas during skating races.
News Agencies – October 1, 2010
Two French female students have made a film of the pair of them strolling through the streets of Paris in a niqab, bare legs and mini-shorts as a critique of France’s recently passed law. Calling themselves the “Niqabitches,” the veiled ladies can be seen strutting past prime ministerial offices and various government ministries with a black veil leaving only their eyes visible, but with their long legs naked bar black high heels.
Bemused passers-by can be seen gawping at the pair or asking to take photographs in the clip. At one stage in the video, the two women approach the entrance to the ministry of immigration and national identity, only to be told by a policeman to go elsewhere. However, a policewoman also present is delighted by their clothes. “I love your outfit, is it to do with the new law?” she asks. “Yes, we want to de-dramatise the situation,” one girl replies. In an opinion piece published on the news website, rue89, the anonymous duo – political science and communication students in their twenties – said the film was a tongue-in-cheek way of criticising France’s niqab ban, which the Senate passed last month and is due to go into force early next year.
September 14, 2010
The parliament of the canton of Aargau has voted a motion addressed to the federal government calling for a ban of burqas in public spaces. The motion was supported by right-wing parties, while the Socialist head of the Interior Department, Urs Hofmann, stated that it “brought nothing new in terms of security” and was “purely ideological.”
Already in May the parliament of Aargau had brought attention upon itself for having voted for an initiative from the far-right to ban the burqa. The parliamentary security commission criticized the idea, calling it “totally unjustified” to want to ban an article of clothing that is practically not worn in Switzerland.
In a radio debate between Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt (moderate) and leader of the opposition Mona Sahlin (social democrat), Reinfeldt refused to give a straight answer on the possibility of banning of burqas in Sweden. “We don’t need to hide our faces in this way in Sweden”, Reinfeldt said. Sahlin said she was against a law, and that she is willing to fight for a woman’s right to wear a burqa if she wants. When asked again later, Reinfeldt said he doesn’t support a burqa or niqab ban, and that he had been hesitant earlier our of respect for President Sarkozy.
According to Svenska Dagbladet (Independently moderate) none of the parties in parliament officially supports a ban on burqas and niqabs. But individuals in the ruling coalition say they would like to a ban. “It’s un-hygenical and disgusting”, says Annelie Enochsson of the Christian Democratic Party.
According to a census made by Expressen (independently liberal) and the Swedish research consultancy Demoskop, 53 percent of the Swedish population wants a law against wearing burqa and niqab in public, while 46 percent is said to be against a prohibition.
A report drawn up by French MPs calls for a ban on Afghan-style burqas and other garments that cover a woman’s face. The proposal has strong public support. According to an opinion poll by Ipsos for the magazine Le Point, 57 percent of voters favor a ban while 37 percent are opposed.
The recommendations of a parliamentary commission, to be published next week, are expected to include a bar on wearing full veils on public transport and in schools, hospitals and public-sector offices including post offices. The commission is thought likely to call for a total ban after further consultation.
President Nicolas Sarkozy launched a debate on veils last June, telling a special sitting of both houses of parliament that they were “not welcome” in France. He said last week the full veil was “contrary to our values and to the ideals we have of women’s dignity”.
André Gerin, the Communist MP who heads the commission, predicted the ban would be “absolute”. He has denounced what he called “French-style Talibans”. “The veil is only the visible part of the iceberg,” he said.
Opponents of a ban argue it would stigmatize Muslims. “France would be the only country in the world that sends its policemen … to stop in the street young women who are victims more than they are guilty,” wrote Laurent Joffrin, editor of the left-wing newspaper Libération. Police officers in some areas with large Muslim communities have warned that stopping women wearing veils would provoke riots.
Only a small number of Muslim women in Denmark wear the burqa, a new study has found, as the government considers possible restrictions on Islamic dress in public places.
While it is estimated that only three women wear burqa between 150 to 200 women use the niqab. Some 60 to 80 of these women are Danish converts to Islam, according to a survey that was conducted for a special commission looking into the contentious issue.
In August 2009 the Conservative People’s Party suggested a ban against wearing the burqa. The idea was eventually dropped because of constitutional and human rights concerns.
The issue now before the government is not an outright ban but whether there should be restrictions in some public circumstances.
French sociologist and historian of secularism, Jean Baubérot, explained to a parliamentary meeting on the burqa and niqab in France that a ban is untenable as it would be inefficient and complicated to enforce. Bauberot noted that a ban would further ostracize the French Muslim community, even if many of its members are also against full-face coverings. He stressed that “between the permitted and the illegal is the tolerated.” Researcher Fahrad Khosrokhavar and Jean-Michel Comte, president of the Teacher’s League, also voiced their positions against a ban. The commission will report its finding at the end of January 2010.
A Canadian Muslim group is calling on the Canadian government to ban the wearing of the burqa in public, saying the argument that the right to wear it is protected by the Charter’s guarantee of freedom of religion is false.
The Muslim Canadian Congress called on the federal government to prohibit the two garments in order to prevent women from covering their faces in public – a practice the group said has no place in a society that supports gender equality.
“To cover your face is to conceal your identity,” Congress spokeswoman Farzana Hassan said.
Mohamed Elmasry, former president of the Canadian Islamic Congress, disputed suggestions that the garments pose a security threat, saying only a minority of Muslim women living in Canada feel the need to conceal their features in public. Elmasry stated that women should have the freedom to decide whether they wish to cover their faces, and that a ban would limit freedom of expression.