Expect Muslim ‘rage’ over French Burqa Ban
Defiant hard-line activists have threatened to flout a new French law banning concealment of the face in a public space and regarded by its opponents as shorthand for a clampdown on the use of the niqab and the burqa by Muslim women.
The “no face covering” law which came into effect April 11, makes France the second European country after Belgium, formally legislating against dress codes considered to offend the host country’s predominant culture, traditions and way of life.
One long-standing and vocal opponent of the ban, Kemza Drider, ensured she attracted the attention of the world’s media, as, at dawn on Monday, she boarded a train from Avignon bound for Paris and saturated media coverage of a veiled promenade around the capital, designed to assert her human rights. But from today under the popular new law she can be fined 150 euros and sent to re-education classes if she insists in her crusade. Anyone such as a husband or brother forcing a woman to wear a veil is subject to a much heavier fine and other penalties. The ban was approved by the Assemblée Nationale eight months ago with cross-party support.
The new French provisions apply equally to women wearing the Muslim niqab and burqa in public space, as they do to a motorcyclist hidden behind a darkened helmet visor at a service station or in a bank.
This video clip — from 19 December 2009 — shows France 5′s Paul Amar hosting the “Revu & Corrigé” show in a debate with two Muslim women about the pros and cons of public veiling. Uncovered is Muslim-born Sihem Habchi (from the movement ‘ni pute ni soumise’ – neither a whore nor subservient), strongly opposed to veiling versus Kenza Drider (wearing a Saudi Arabian niqab) and a vocal supporter of Arabian desert dress styles, who claims her decision to cover-up is entirely hers and taken because she feels more comfortable when so dressed.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has said the veil “imprisons women and is an affront to French Republican principles of equality and secularism’. Many Muslims have claimed they feel stigmatised by the new law and two days before it came into force groups of opponents organised a central Paris protest. This was subsequently banned by police on law and order grounds. However despite the ban, hardline Islamists from several European states including the UK and Belgium tried to make it to the Place de Nation for the demonstration. Police arrested 61 people for staging an illegal demonstration against the ban.
Earlier at the French border, they turned back, Anjem Choudary, who heads the Islam4UK group which has been outlawed in Britain and which campaigns for implementation of Sharia law. Police formally served him with a French Interior Ministry order that bans him permanently from French soil.
This YouTube clip of Choudary delivering a message of encouragement to defiant activists and carried on the Jamaat Tawheed website, may give some indication as to why.
Among Choudary’s more noxious ramblings heard on the clip is a demand of Carla Bruni, wife of President Nicolas Sarkozy – to “stop selling your body and cover up your face”:
The country has been placed on a high state of alert because Al Qaeda terrorists have warned they will make attacks on France for introducing the new legislation.
Story: Ken Pottinger
- Two Muslim women wearing full face veils were arrested on the first day the new law came into force, as they participated in an ‘unauthorised’ protest against the measure — organised by Rachid Nekkaz — in front of Notre Dame Cathedral in central Paris. According to Le Figaro police said they detained the women not because they were veiled but because the demonstration had not been formally authorised.
FURTHER UPDATE: ‘Terrorists of Thought and the Enlightenment‘
Just a week after the ban was introduced some conservative commentators claim it is driving a deep wedge in society and dividing France. Interestingly it has been left to a man of the Left, Bernard-Henri Lévy, French philosopher and writer to spring to the defence of the new law and he has done so vigourously. Writing in the leftwing Huffington Post he said: “Personally, I am not Islamophobic. I am far too concerned with the spiritual and the dialogue among spiritualities to feel any hostility towards one religion or another. But the right to freely criticize them, the right to make fun of their dogmas or beliefs, the right to be a non-believer, the right to blasphemy and apostasy — all these were acquired at too great a cost for us to allow a sect, terrorists of thought, to nullify them or undermine them. This is not about the burqa, it’s about Voltaire. What is at stake is the Enlightenment of yesterday and today, and the heritage of both, no less sacred than that of the three monotheisms. A step backwards, just one, on this front would give the nod to all obscurantism, all fanaticism, all the true thoughts of hatred and violence.”