Thursday, October 7, 2010
French ban on Islamic face coverings ruled constitutional
So, is it merely nervy or something worse that France has made it a crime for women to wear Islamic face coverings in public? The county's top legal authority, the French Constitutional Council, decided Thursday that the so-called burqa ban, approved overwhelmingly by the legislature earlier this year, was legal under the country's constitution. Councilmembers ruled that the ban, which makes the wearing of the burqa full-body covering or the nigab face-covering punishable by a fine, was constitutional because it did not prevent the free practice of religion in a place of worship, according to Cable News Network (CNN). How could this happen in a place as modern and aware as France, which had the wisdom to oppose the United States' occupation of Iraq from the outset? Easily, it turns out. More than 80 percent of the country supported the ban in a poll by the Pew Global Attitudes Project earlier this year, CNN said. Residents of Germany, England and Spain also backed the ban by large majorities but those countries have not imposed one, CNN said. Nearly 70 percent of U.S. residents oppose such a ban. The French government, which backed the ban, called the wearing of Islamic head coverings by women "a new form of enslavement that the republic cannot accept on its soil." France barred the wearing of all overt religious symbols, including Islamic headscarves, in the nation's public schools in 2004. CNN said 3.5 million Muslims -- 6 percent of the population -- live in France.