News Agencies – March 3, 2011
Women will face prison for hiding their faces under the cloak – as will men who force their wives to wear one. The law, which will take effect from April 11, brands the garment ‘an insult to the country’s values’. It will make France the second country in Europe after Belgium to outlaw Muslim headwear that hides the face. President Nicolas Sarkozy has described the burqa as a ‘sign of debasement’.
The law was voted through last October after a year of heated national debate – and despite threats from al-Qaeda leaders to seek ‘dreadful revenge’ if it is enforced. The ban applies to all public spaces including streets, shops, restaurants, cinemas, theatres, sports stadiums and behind the wheel of a car on a public road.
Under the new rules, men can be fined up to £25,000 and jailed for a year for forcing their wives to wear a burka or a niqab (full face veil). Women will face a smaller fine of around £130 because they are ‘often victims who are not given any choice’, the law states. Repeat offenders who refuse to pay their fines will be sent to prison.
Amsterdam police chief Bernard Welten has come under fire after suggesting that, should the burqa be banned in the country, his officers would not necessarily arrest women wearing the garment. Describing the issue as ‘extremely complicated’ Welten, noting that officers would have to ‘think hard’ before taking such a step. Under the governing coalition between conservatives (VVD), Christian Democrats (CDA) and the Party for Freedom (PVV), the accord has agreed to ban face covering clothing and the proposal is expected to pass successfully through parliament in the near future.
Welten faced criticism from several political parties, including the VVD and the PVV. Meanwhile Labour MP Ahmed Marcouch called the debate a non-issue, noting that he has never seen a burqa in Amsterdam. Orthodox Dutch Muslim organization As-Soennah has welcomed the remarks by Welten as ‘courageous’.
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.
November 10 2010
A woman wearing a burqa was refused entrance to a performance by Moroccan comic Anuar in the Dutch city Boekelo. The theatre had initially publicized a promotion in which the first ten women wearing burqas to the performance would be granted free entrance. Three women attended the performance in burqas- while two removed the garments when requested the third refused and was consequently denied admission. The theatre claims that she was denied entrance because of her behavior, not her dress.
Dutch News- http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2010/11/woman_in_burka_banned_from_the.php
Radio Netherlands Worldwide – http://www.rnw.nl/english/article/press-review-thursday-11-november-2010#4
Journal du Dimanche – October 26, 2010
NPNS has launched its “Ambassadors of French Secularism and Equality” operation, designed to mobilize anti-burqa-law movements in the housing projects outside of Paris. The group is collaborating with Eric Besson, minister of immigration.
October 8 2010
Following her presentation of Amsterdam’s annual globalization reading, entitled “Boss of your own burqa: feminism thanks to or in spite of Islam”, Radio Netherlands Worldwide carries a feature of Egyptian journalist Mona Eltahawy. Eltahawy called for a global ban on the niqab and burqa and spoke out against “the right wing”, comprised of both xenophobic European right wing parties and radical Islamists who threated terrorism and violence.
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 30 2010
After four months of negotiation, the Netherlands has formed a coalition government including the anti-Islam and anti-immigration Freedom Party (PVV), headed by Geert Wilders. The party will not hold seats in the cabinet but has pledged to support the government in parliament. The coalition, which revealed its governing accords on Thursday, remains to be approved on Saturday at the meeting of the Christian Democrat party (CDA), the second party in the new coalition.
The effect of the PVV on government policy includes a move to ban the burqa in the country and to restrict immigration, ‘get tough’ on Islamic schools and ban headscarves for police and justice ministry staff. Both national and international news media have focused their attention on the policies banning the wearing of the burqa and the tightening of immigration laws. The immigration restriction will significantly decrease the number of non-western immigrants to the country, criminalize illegal immigration, and deport foreign criminals.
Preliminary polling in the Telegraaf suggests that 70-80% of the population supports the coalition’s platform in terms of immigration, integration and security. At the same time, both Muslim and non-Muslims have spoken against the coalition’s policies. Dutch News carries comments from the Turkish workers’ association TAN, worried “that different groups will be played off against each other”. Job Cohen, leader of the Labour party, which is not involved in the ruling coalition, called the headscarf ban “symbol politics”. He explained that in saying they will ban the headscarf the cabinet creates the impression that there is a problem to be solved, “but I have never seen a police officer in a headscarf”.
September 21, 2010
In the village of Sonnino (Latina, Lazio); a nursery school attempted to ban a woman, who is married to an imam, donning the burqa after several complaints were made by other parents. The parents accused that the Muslim woman’s burqa frightened their children attending the nursery. An official meeting was held on the matter; where the village mayor, the nursery managers and the husband of the woman came to the compromise that the woman would remove the face veil upon entering the building. The imam committed himself to respecting the outcomes of the meeting and reassured the community of the need and importance for Muslims to integrate within Italian society.
Reactions to the incident were mixed. A group of local women contested the decision and showed their solidarity with the veiled Muslim woman by wearing burqas publically. Meanwhile the president of the association for “Moderate Muslims;” criticized the decision by suggesting that, the burqa should be completely banned since it is not an Islamic precept. An initiative to promote greater cultural integration has been launched in public schools.