Daily Mail: April 4, 2011
Women wearing burkas in France will face fines – but the areas around mosques will be exempt
Police in France have been warned not to arrest any women wearing Muslim veils ‘in or around’ mosques. The strict instructions, from Interior Minister Claude Guent, are contained in a nine page circular issued to officers prior to a full-blown burka ban coming into force next week.
With tensions running high within the country’s six million strong Muslim community, people have already been warned not to perform ‘citizen’s de-veilings’.
This means that members of the public will not be allowed to take the law into their own hands when they see a woman hiding her features in a public place.
Instead they will have to call the police, who will in turn consider whether the offender should be fined 150 euros. This will apply to all garments which cover the eyes, although scarves, hats, and sunglasses are excluded.
As well as a mosque, Muslims will also be able to put on a veil in the privacy of their own homes, a hotel room, or even a car, as long as they are not driving.
The new ban, which came into effect on April 11, will mean France is officially the second country in Europe, after Belgium, to introduce a full ban on a garment which immigration minister Eric Besson has called a ‘walking coffin.’
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.
A French Muslim threatened by the government with being stripped of his passport for practicing polygamy said he had only one wife and several mistresses. The case of Lies Hebbadj, an Algerian-born butcher who became a citizen when he married a French woman in 1999, has flared into a major political debate. The government, which days earlier announced it planned to ban the full veil from the streets of France, said Mr. Hebbadj appeared to have several wives and suggested that he lose his French nationality. But Mr. Hebbadj denied having more than one wife, saying other women he has had children with were his lovers.
The French government has said it has information that Mr. Hebbadj is married to four women with 12 children and accuses them of fraudulently claiming single parent benefits. “If the French consider that fraudulent polygamy and benefit claims shouldn’t be allowed, then … we could well imagine a change to the law,” Immigration Minister Eric Besson told RTL radio, suggesting a tightening of legislation. Frederic Lefebvre, a spokesperson for the ruling UMP party, accused Mr. Hebbadj of being “someone whom we can well suspect of practicing polygamy, which is against the principles of our society, for financial aims.”
The French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) condemned the information dispelled by Mr. Hebbadj who claimed that the tradition of Islam allowed mistresses. The CFCM spokesperson said, they were “Lies about the legality of mistresses in Islam” and “qualified these allegations as offensive and insulting for the Muslim religion.” The organization also reminded French Imams who grant religiously-understood marriage contracts that polygamy in France is illegal.
French Immigration Minister Eric Besson has denied converting to Islam. Rumors began when Besson began sharing his private life with a young Tunisian woman. Some journalists suggested conversion would be necessary should he want to marry Wassila Bourguiba.
The French government has refused to grant citizenship to a foreign national on the grounds that he forced his wife to wear the full Islamic veil. The Moroccan-born man needed citizenship to settle in the country with his French wife. Immigration Minister Eric Besson said this was being refused because he was depriving his wife of the liberty to come and go with her face uncovered.
In a statement, Besson said he had signed a decree on Tuesday rejecting a man’s citizenship application after it emerged that he had ordered his wife to cover herself with a head-to-toe veil.
“It became apparent during the regulation investigation and the prior interview that this person was compelling his wife to wear the all-covering veil, depriving her of the freedom to come and go with her face uncovered, and rejected the principles of secularism and equality between men and women,” he said.
Later, the minister stressed that French law required anyone seeking naturalisation to demonstrate their desire for integration. Besson’s decree has now been sent to Prime Minister Francois Fillon for approval. In 2008, a French court denied citizenship to a Moroccan woman on the grounds that her “radical” practice of Islam was incompatible with French values.
The French government has decided to deny the nationality to a man over allegations that he has forced his French wife to wear the face-veil. “This case is about a religious radical,” said French Prime Minister François Fillon, following Immigration Minister Eric Besson’s admission about the case. “He imposes the burqa, he imposes the separation of men and women in his own home, and he refuses to shake the hands of women,” Fillon added.
It was not clear if the wife was forced to cover her face or it was her choice. The name and nationality of the man was not declared. Justice Minister Michele Alliot-Marie has called for denying Muslim men who force their wives to wear the full veil the citizenship.
Prime Minister Fillon even vowed to expel the man. “If this man does not want to change his attitude, he has no place in our country,” he said.”In any case, he does not deserve French nationality.” In 2008, a court denied a veiled Muslim woman the nationality for being “too submissive” to her husband and that her religious rituals were “incompatible” with French values.
French ministers Eric Besson (minister of immigration), Brice Hortefeux (minister of the Interior) and Xavier Darcos (minister of work) were recently auditioned by the Parliamentary Mission on burqa and niqab use in the Republic. They did not share a common method of how to dispel the “radical and rare” phenomenon. According to Le Monde, they had strongly differing positions. Besson is for a law, Hortefeux claims it is possible legally, and Darcos is more restrained.
Key Words – Eric Besson, Brice Hortefeux, Xavier Darcos, Parliamentary Debate, Niqab, Burqa, France, André Geron
While French ministers like Eric Besson claim that a possible law against the burqa is a way to protect the dignity of women, others point to how it would remove practicing Muslim women’s dignity of choice. Denys de Bechillon points to how the notion of dignity is one of the most complicated to determine in contemporary legal matters. Moreover, legal scholars usually cannot determine whether it was forced upon her by her husband or her brother. Until now, there has been no legal text or position in France which claims that the face must be visible in the public sphere, except for identity cards or being stopped by police. It is unclear how the constitutional council would react should such a ban be put into place as no law like it has come before the courts.