Entries in Burqa Ban (2)


Muslim Women Arrested for Defying France's Burqa Ban

Abid Katib/Getty Images(PARIS) -- Muslim women defied France's new ban on full-face veils Monday and at least two protesters were arrested outside Notre Dame cathedral for wearing the traditional masks, which the French president has called "a sign of enslavement."

Three women wearing niqabs -- a veil that leaves just a slit for the eyes -- joined a protest of about a dozen people outside the famous Paris cathedral, saying the ban violates their freedom of religion. Two of the women were arrested and charged with staging an unauthorized protest.

It was unclear whether the women would be fined the $215 penalty the law imposes for wearing a veil.

There are some five million Muslims living in France, but only about 2,000 women are estimated to wear the now outlawed veils. Many of those women have vowed to defy the ban.

The ban implemented Monday comes two years after French President Nicolas Sarkozy first suggested outlawing the veils.

The penalty for forcing a woman to wear a veil is far stiffer than that for a woman caught wearing one. People found forcing a woman to cover her face are subject to a $43,000 fine and up to a year in prison.

Many opponents of the ban say it violates the country's religious freedom statutes.

Head scarves are still legal, but the niqab and burqa, from which women peer out through a screen, are banned.

France is the first country to implement such a ban. Italy is mulling a similar law.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


French Burqa Ban Takes Effect

Abid Katib/Getty Images(PARIS) -- They are an unusual sight on the fashion forward streets of Paris. Muslim women covered head to toe, even much of their faces concealed. And starting Monday,  the French government plans to make this religious garb even rarer.

“It shocks the French culture deeply,” said Jacques Myard, a conservative member of French Parliament. “Because never in our history, any person, male or female, has got a cloth on her face.’’

The French Parliament passed a new and controversial law forbidding women to cover their faces in public. Women wearing the burqa will be warned, then fined about $200. There's a $43,000 fine for any man caught forcing a woman to wear the burqa or cover her face.

The French government argues that the clothing violates the principles of equality for its citizens and poses a threat to public safety. Criminals in the past have used the burqa for cover.

What’s happening in France might be a model for countries trying to push back against the influx of Islamic culture.  Sarkozy says the clothing is “not a religious symbol. It is a sign of enslavement .”

But many Muslim women disagree, saying that the burqa is a sign of modesty and symbolizes their respect for God.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio