Court Upholds Frances’ Ban On Hijab Wearing

hijabThe European Court of Human Rights has upheld a ban by France on wearing the Muslim full-face veil – the niqab.

A case was brought by a 24-year-old French woman, who argued that the ban on wearing the veil in public violated her freedom of religion and expression.

French law says nobody can wear in a public space clothing intended to conceal the face. The penalty for doing so can be a 150-euro fine (£120; $205).

The 2010 law came in under former conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy.

A breach of the ban can also mean a wearer having to undergo citizenship instruction.

France has about five million Muslims – the largest Muslim minority in Western Europe – but it is thought only about 2,000 women wear full veils.

The court ruled that the ban “was not expressly based on the religious connotation of the clothing in question but solely on the fact that it concealed the face”. The Strasbourg judges’ decision is final – there is no appeal against it.

France was the first European country in modern times to ban public wearing of the full-face veil. Belgium adopted a similar ban in 2011.

In Spain, the city of Barcelona and some other towns have brought in similar bans, as have some towns in Italy.

No such general ban applies in the UK, but institutions have discretion to impose their own dress codes.

The French government argues that the ban has wide public support. The authorities see the full-face veil not only as an affront to French secular values but also as a potential security risk, as it conceals a person’s identity.

In the past, the European Court has sided with French secularism – it also ruled in favour of the government’s ban on headscarves in schools.

But in 2010, the judges did find against Turkey, ruling that religious garments were not in themselves a threat to public order.

Source:BBC

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