Islamic scarf controversy Muslims challenge French “veil” law

November 27, 2013 | By | Reply More

Nov 27, – A leading French feminist group has urged the ECHR to uphold the ban, arguing that it liberates women. “The full-face veil, by literally burying the body and the face, constitutes a true deletion of the woman as an individual in public,” the head of the International League for Women’s Rights, Annie Sugier, said in a letter to the court.

hromedia Islamic scarf controversy Muslims challenge French “veil” law eu crisis5A young Muslim woman is challenging France’s full-face veil ban at the European Court of Human Rights, based in the French city of Strasbourg.

The woman argues that the niqab, and the burka body covering, accord with her “religious faith, culture and personal convictions”. She denies being under any pressure from her family to wear them.

France banned the public wearing of most face coverings in 2011, setting fines for offenders of up to 150 euros (£126; $203). The country is home to the biggest Muslim minority in Western Europe, accounting for about five million people, or nearly 8% of the population. Most have origins in France’s former North African colonies.

‘A symbolic violence’

According to the ECHR, the woman argues that her right to “freedom of thought, conscience and religion” is violated by the law. The law, she contends, gives rise to “discrimination based on gender, religion and ethnic origin, to the detriment of women who, like herself, wear the full-face veil”.

She is not named in the document but is described as being a French national who was born in 1990 and lives in France. The complaint was brought to the court in April 2011, when the law came into effect.

Ms Sugier, whose organisation was founded by the feminist writer Simone de Beauvoir, said the law was “in no way contrary to freedom and dignity”. Instead, she said, it was aimed at the “liberation” of women because the wearing of veils was “totally incompatible with the very idea of equality”.

“How can one not see that to wear the full veil is also a symbolic violence to other women?” she added. “Those who do not wear it feel insulted by this sight reminding them of the enclosures suffered in the past.”

Supporters of the law argue that Islam does not stipulate the wearing of a veil. However, some human rights campaigners have condemned the French law. Amnesty International, for instance, has argued that it violates women’s “rights to freedom of expression and religion”.

According to France’s Le Figaro newspaper, the court’s ruling is not expected until the middle of next year.

Press coordinator for HRO media – Norberto Lluch contributed to this report.

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Category: European Crises

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