CC ISSUE: MAR 2010 Last updated: Mar 4, 2010
France burka ban raises questions
A committee in the French Parliament recently released a report that advocates for a ban on the burka (full head-to-toe covering including the face) in hospitals, schools and on public transport. The 200-page report has received a mixed reaction. While some ministers in France believe that anyone found wearing a burka should be fined on-the-spot like a speeding ticket others feel such a move will stigmatize the Muslim community further.
According to the Interior Ministry, only 1,900 women cover their face out of the 5 million reported Muslims in France.
“Foreigners who come to live in France should sign a contract recognizing that wearing the full Islamic veil is banned” said France Families Minister Nadine Morano.
Ban supporters say that such attire goes against France’s secular system and that even their President, Nicolas Sarkozy, believes the burka prevents women to enjoy equal rights. The authors of the report recommend that while the ban should apply to public places, the Parliament should, as a nation, vote to reject the full veil. It also encourages more educational programs to reduce radicalization of Muslims by promoting French values as mandatory learning for new immigrants.
France has the largest Muslim minority in Europe with close to 2,000 masajid and prayer centers. Although the ban was not passed in the Parliament, this report has opened up the discussion and may take several months to come to an agreement.