“Take Off that Burqa!” Says France

As of this coming Monday, you’ll be fined 150 euros ($190) if you’re found wearing a burqa (a full-body covering that includes a mesh over the face) or a niqab (a full-face veil that only leaves slits for the eyes) in France. As the Interior Ministry in France explains, “The ban does not target the wearing of a headscarf, head-gear, scarf or glasses, as long as the accessories do not prevent the person from being identified.”

Burqa Penalties

Part of the law, as well, which was passed in October but included a six-month information period, includes penalties for forcing a woman to wear a burqa. Forcing a woman to wear either a burqa or a niqab is punishable by a year in prison and a 30,000 euro fine (about $43,400). Forcing a minor to do so is punishable by two years in prison and a fine of 60,000 euros.

National Values Fit with Ban

The French Prime Minister, Francois Fillon, explained that the ban keeps with national values and that it also helps with security issues. The French people have backed the ban by a margin of more than four to one, according to the Pew Global Attitudes Project. This Washington-based think tank found clear majorities for favoring burqa bans in Germany, Britain and Spain as well. They found that two out of three Americans oppose the burqa ban.

When it brought the measure to parliament in May last year, the French government said, “Given the damage it produces on those rules which allow the life in community, ensure the dignity of the person and equality between sexes, this practice, even if it is voluntary, cannot be tolerated in any public place.”

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