France’s potential burka ban

The French government is considering outlawing the burka

by Elayne Millar

 

The French government is expected to release a parliamentary report later this month regarding their ultimate decision on whether or not to outlaw the burka, a veil worn by Muslim women that covers a woman’s body from head to toe. 

Discussions debating whether or not to outlaw the burka have been rampant for over a year, and President Nicolas Sarkozy, along with the members of parliament, are expected to go through with the ban. The law will disallow the wearing of the burka on public transportation and in state funded establishments such as hospitals and state schools. BBC News states that Mr. Sarkozy had said the burka was “not welcome” in France, a country that houses Europe’s largest Muslim population. 

According to The National, the veil is seen by France as a symbol of oppression as well as a symbol of “Muslims’ reluctance to enter mainstream society in the countries they have emigrated.”

France is not the only country who is opposed to the idea of the burka. Other European countries seem to be taking similar steps. The British government has called for a ban as well as they believe the veil is a symbol of enforced conformity. According to The National, Nigel Farage, leader of the right-wing UK Independence Party, said the burka is responsible for an “increasingly divided Britain.” In 2006, a ban on the burka was introduced in the Netherlands, which resulted in several protests by its Muslim community.

Due to the controversial nature of the expected law, there are those who are opposed to the ban, one group being France’s Socialist party. According to BBC News, The Socialist party is opposed to the burka. While Benoit Hamon, the party’s spokesperson said the veil “is a prison for women and has no place in the French Republic” but said that nonetheless, a legal ban is “not favourable.”

As expected, the Muslim population is outraged. In an article from The Guardian, Samra Mursaleen, a British Muslim said that she finds the veil liberating. “It is the veil which affords equality. The head veil with or without the face veil (which incidentally is not a religious requirement) is in fact a liberating and an empowering force rather than an oppressive one,” said Mursaleen.

“[The burka ban] will not make things better. It will make them worse,” Ian Dunst, a British political writer told The National.

photo: The Guardian

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