January 25, 2010

Will France ban the burqa?


by Sara Levy

France will move one step closer to banning Muslim women from wearing the full Islamic veil this week with the release of a parliamentary report on the issue.

The report, due to be released on Tuesday, will reveal the findings of a parliamentary commission on whether the burqa should be outlawed.

If France outlaws the full body veil, it will be the first European country to do so.

Previously, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said the burqa is “not welcome” in France, and described it as a symbol of women’s “subservience”.

Some Muslim groups in France support the proposed ban, while others reject it as Islamophobic and in violation of religious rights.

“We support any law that bans the wearing of face veil in France,” said Hassan Chalghoumi, spokesperson for the Conference of French Imams (CFI).

The CFI said it supports the ban because the majority of Muslim legal scholars do not believe women are obliged to cover their whole face under Islamic law.

However, the French Council for Muslim Religion (CFCM) rejects the ban as a violation of Muslims’ religious freedom.

The French Union of Islamic Organizations (l’UOIF) added that the ban “would only help Islamophobia rather than suppress it”.

“It would lead to strengthening the far-right and Islam-bashing in France,” said l’OUIF president Fouad Alaoui.

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