The above video is from a French feminist group called Niqabitch. They’re two women in their 20s who are protesting France’s ban on burqas and niqabs by walking through the streets of Paris decked in niqabs, short-shorts and heels. The Niqabitches, one of whom is Muslim, believe that banning women from wearing traditional Muslim body coverings is unconstitutional.The French Council of Ministers voted this past May that niqabs — veils covering the face — “cannot be tolerated in any public place” and in July, the French parliament supported the ban 335 to 1. Then this past week, the French senate passed the ban by a vote of 246 to 1. A companion poll found that French people support the ban by a margin of 4 to 1.
The French government released a statement saying that, “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.”
The ban enforces a fine of 150 euros ($190) for wearing a veil in public. Forcing a woman to wear a niqab or burqa carries a fine of a year of prison or $15,000 euros.
Niqabitches are protesting the ban, saying, “We were not looking to attack or degrade the image of Muslim fundamentalists, but rather to question politicians who voted for this law that we consider clearly unconstitutional.”
Human rights group Amnesty International agrees. “A complete ban on the covering of the face would violate the rights to freedom of expression and religion of those women who wear the burqa or the niqab in public as an expression of their identity or beliefs,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty’s expert on rights discrimination in Europe.
What do you think?