News Agencies – October 8, 2010
A French court on Friday expelled a woman from the public gallery for wearing the full Islamic veil, the day after a law banning the garment cleared its final hurdle. “Those people whose faces are visible are allowed to remain in the room wearing their headscarves. However, not that woman in the front row with only the eyes visible,” said the presiding judge. “She is asked to leave the room or take off her veil,” she said during the hearing at Bobigny, northeast of Paris, in the case of two men accused of breaking into the home of a local imam who was in favour of the burqa ban.
“I’m not surprised. I was expecting it, but I still took the risk,” the expelled woman told AFP afterwards, identifying herself only as a 35-year-old from the nearby neighbourhood of Saint Denis.
News Agencies – October 14, 2010
The right of a Muslim woman to wear a niqab while testifying in a criminal trial may be determined by judges on a “case-by-case assessment”, Ontario’s highest court has ruled.
The Ontario Court of Appeal ruling upheld a Superior Court decision. The court also set up a framework for lower courts to apply in balancing a defendant’s rights with a veiled woman’s religious freedoms. A lower court had ordered a woman to remove her veil, prompting the appeal.
The case involved a 32-year-old Muslim woman who alleged that her cousin and uncle had repeatedly sexually abused her when she was a child. A lower court judge ordered the woman to remove her veil during a preliminary inquiry, sparking controversy in the Canadian Muslim community. The Superior Court then quashed that decision following an appeal.
News Agencies – October 3, 2010
French police have questioned a man over an online video which features someone burning a page of the Qur’an and urinating on its ashes, a French judicial officer says. The video which has since been removed from YouTube and Dailymotion shows a man tearing off a page of the Qur’an, making a paper plane and throwing it onto two glasses representing the World Trade Center. The man then burns the page and urinates onto its ashes. He shows his face to the camera at the beginning of the video, gives his name and says he lives in Bishheim, on the outskirts of Strasbourg.
The Muslim community in Strasbourg has been deeply angered by the online video. An official at the Strasbourg Mosque Abdeaziz Choukri says he discovered the video and called the authorities after discussing the footage with its alleged author.
News Agencies – October 7, 2010
France’s constitutional watchdog has endorsed a divisive law forbidding face-covering Islamic veils anywhere in public, but expressed concern about applying it in places of worship such as a mosque. The decision of the Constitutional Council removes a key hurdle for the law, overwhelmingly approved in both houses of parliament last month, despite concerns from some Muslims that it will further stigmatize France’s Muslim community.
The law, the first of its kind in western Europe, forbids veils such as the niqab or burka anywhere in public and imposes a €150-fine ($210) on anyone wearing one – and a €30,000 ($41,700) fine on anyone who forces a woman to wear one. Only some 2,000 women in France are estimated to wear such veils, but proponents see the law as a symbolic defense of French values, such as women’s rights and secularism. After reviewing the law, the council said in its ruling that “the law forbidding concealing the face in public conforms to the Constitution.”
The bill was born after President Nicolas Sarkozy said last year that the burka is “not welcome” in France. However, it is worded carefully, and the words “women,” “Muslim” and “veil” are not even mentioned in any of its seven articles. Opponents have said they could take the law to the European Court of Human Rights.
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.