Burqas Banned in French Classes for Immigrants

In two recent legal decisions, head-to-toe burqas have been banned from state-sponsored French language classes. Louis Schweitzer, the head of France’s anti-discrimination agency told La Croix daily that “Religious freedom is not absolute” and they authorities have sought “the most reasonable compromise.” His agency known as Halde ruled last month to ban burqa and niqab from state-sponsored French language classes for immigrants. Halde called the burqa a symbol of “female submission that goes beyond its religious meaning.” Under French law, these classes may be required for application for residency or citizenship in the country.

Earlier in the year, a national agency responsible for such classes complained that the presence of burqa-wearing women “hinders the proper functioning” of such classes.

Limits on the headscarf are not uniform. On October 8 An appeals court fined the owner of a bed and breakfast in the northeastern city of Nancy $6,000 for refusing to welcome two veiled women.

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Le Figaro

Ireland: Schools to allow hijab but not burqa under new rules

Under new policy rules for uniforms in Irish schools, the hijab has been deemed allowed in schools, but the burka or other face coverings will be banned. Integration minister Conor Lenihan and education minister Batt O’Keeffe issued the joint recommendation after consulting and reviewing the legal positions in Ireland. A 1988 Education Act obliges schools and personnel to have “respect for diversity of values, beliefs, traditions, languages and ways of life I society.” “In this context, no school uniform policy should act in such a way that it, in effect, excludes students of a particular religious background from seeking enrolment or continuing their enrolment in a school. However, this statement does not recommend the wearing of clothing in the classroom which obscures a facial view and creates an artificial barrier between pupil and teacher. Such clothing hinders proper communication,” said the statement.

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Independent.ie

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Dounia Bouzar claims that to Refuse the Burqa is to Respect Islam

Dounia Bouzar, a French anthropologist who specializes in examining French-born and raised Muslims and former member of the French Council for the Muslim Faith (CFCM), claims that Muslim sects, particularly the conservative Salafists, take advantage of the general ignorance about Islam in France to multiply within families. Bouzar claims that these conservative Muslim groups become most powerful when they alienate individuals from those who are normally central to their socialization – their teachers, educators, parents and even, imams. Author of L’Islam, l’intégrisme et nous (Plon, 2007), Bouzar concludes that being shocked by the burqa is to respect Islam, because it means that the religious tradition does not espouse such “archaic practices”.

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Moroccan Burqa-Wearing Woman Denied French Citizenship

France has denied citizenship to a veiled Moroccan woman on the grounds that her “radical” practice of Islam is incompatible with French values, particularly with mixité (the equality of the sexes). Le Monde daily newspaper claims it was the first time a Muslim applicant has been rejected because of his/her personal religious practice, particularly her black burqa. The woman, Faiza M., 32, is married to a French national, arrived in France in 2000, speaks French and has three French-born children. She began wearing the burqa upon her arrival in France at the request of her husband, says the court document, which also stated she wore it more by custom than by conviction. The document also noted that she had no sense of the meaning of secularism or of her right to vote. According to secondary reports by social services, Faiza M. lives in “total submission” to her husband and male relatives.

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The National Post

Dutch Muslims Condemn Burqa Ban

Dutch Muslims have criticised a government proposal to ban women from wearing the burqa or veils which cover the face in public places. Dutch Muslim groups say a ban would make the country’s one million Muslims feel victimised and alienated. The Dutch cabinet said burqas – a full body covering that also obscures the face – disturb public order and safety. The proposed ban would apply to wearing the burqa in the street, and in trains, schools, buses and law courts in the Netherlands. Other forms of face coverings, such as veils, and crash helmets with visors that obscure the face, would also be covered by a ban. Critics of the proposed ban say it would violate civil rights. The main Muslim organisation in the Netherlands, CMO, said the plan was an “over-reaction to a very marginal problem.”

Netherlands Considers Burqa Ban

The Dutch immigration minister says she will look into the legality of banning the burqa, the robes worn by some Muslim women to cover their bodies. Rita Verdonk made the pledge after a majority in parliament said it would support such a ban. The proposal was put forward by independent politician Geert Wilders. “That women should walk the streets in a totally unrecognisable manner is an insult to everyone who believes in equal rights,” he said. “This law is a comfort to moderate Muslims and will contribute to integration in the Netherlands,” he added in a statement. His proposal is supported by two of the parties in the governing centre-right coalition, as well as the opposition right-wing party founded by the late Pim Fortuyn. Mrs Verdonk did not say when she might complete her investigation. If the Netherlands does decide to ban the burqa, it will be the first European country to do so.