Now Law – Burqa Ban Passes Last Hurdle

After six months of debate France’s highest legal authority the Conseil Constitutionnel has cleared the way for the promulgation of legislation that “prohibits the concealment of the face in the public space”, a measure targeting non-European forms of dress such as burqas and niqabs.

Veiled woman ordered to uncover her face or leave Paris courtroom – Photo Marc Meno

However the Council said the measure may not apply to public places of worship because to do so risked violating religious freedoms.

The Council noted that subject to this one reservation, the law as passed by parliament “complied with the Constitution” respecting the balance between safeguarding public order and guaranteeing constitutional rights and freedoms.
The burqa ban will now come into force in the spring of 2011 after a six month grace period to give affected groups time to internalise the changes.

Prime Minister Francois Fillon “welcomed” what he called “this important decision that affirms the values of the Republic in respect of freedom of conscience and religion. The Constitutional Council has acknowledged that parliament may, in strict compliance with the Constitution, solemnly restate the minimum requirements for socialisation and the principle of equality between men and women” .

UMP deputy Jean-Francois Cope called the Constitutional Council decision a “firm response to extremists and a strong signal to all women fighting to defend their dignity. “

In a letter to members of parliament Justice Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said that government “will make every effort to ensure that the sanctions (permitted by the law) will always be the last resort in seeking to preserve society’s aim of living together”.

PS deputies Manuel Valls and Aurélie Filippetti “welcomed” the Constitutional Council decision, while reiterating their disappointment with their own party for instructing its MPS not to take part in the initial vote on the ban. This they said incurred the risk of making the PS look “incomprehensible and short on credibility.”

Within hours of the law being validated a fully veiled woman seated in the public gallery of the court at Bobigny (Seine-Saint-Denis) was ordered to leave. The presiding judge made the decision to exclude her from the courtroom saying: “she is invited to remove her veil or leave the court”.

The woman, 35, who declined to be identified told reporters as she left: “I’m not surprised. I had expected it, but I still took the risk”.

The judge in the 16th Chamber of the Bobigny Criminal Court was hearing a case against two men suspected of having broken in to the home of Hassan Chalghoumi the moderate Imam of Drancy in June. The Imam had earlier expressed support for the law against public veiling. His critics accuse him of “distorting” Islam.

Commenting on the Bobigny judge’s action Abdel-Hakim Sefrioui, chairman of the radical Sheikh Yassin pro-Palestinian group said: “The judge acted in a manner consistent with the law but this sets the tone for what will happen in the future. This woman was excluded as if she were ‘unclean’ suggesting she is not a citizen with an equal right to justice in this country”.

Story: Ken Pottinger

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3 Responses to Now Law – Burqa Ban Passes Last Hurdle

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Now Law – Burqa Ban Passes Last Hurdle « French News Online Newsroom --

  2. Mick Anderson October 20, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    by email from: Mick Anderson
    The Norwegian foreign minister, Jonas Gahr Støre, will not allow Saudi Arabia to finance or build any mosques in Norway because of the laws in Saudi Arabia that deny basic religious freedoms. This also includes money from Saudi citizens. –

  3. Pingback: Extremists Attack Charlie Hebdo and Golgotha « French News Online Newsroom

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