Paris (UPI) Apr 11, 2011
France's controversial burqa ban came into force Monday, with women wearing the Muslim face veil in public risking fines of $200 and classes on secularism.
The controversial law, the first of its kind in Europe, also foresees fines of up to $90,000 and two years in jail for anyone found to have forced a woman to conceal her face, Radio Free Europe reports.
France, a country of 62 million inhabitants, is home to Europe's largest Muslim population, estimated at 6 million. The French government says the ban will affect around 2,000 women, but many more Muslims say they feel stigmatized by the new law.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose government had pushed the law, says it's necessary to guarantee security, uphold France's secular ideals and protect women from suppression.
Critics, however, have accused Sarkozy of trying to regain voter support with a populist move. His popularity ratings are at a record low ahead of next year's presidential election, and the far-right National Front, led by Marie Le Pen, is seen as a potential rival for voters disgruntled with Sarkozy's leadership. Last year, Sarkozy came under fire for deporting Roma Gypsies, another move critics said was aimed at winning back lost electoral support.
Human rights groups have attacked the burqa ban as discriminatory.
Amnesty International said in a statement ahead of last year's parliamentary vote on the ban that it "violates the right to liberty of expression and religion of those women" who wear veils "as an expression of their identity or their convictions."
Even those women who don't wear the full-face veil out of free will could suffer, critics say. Their husbands or fathers may simply forbid them to leave the house, further curtailing their chances of taking part in French daily life, Amnesty International warned.
"Governments should instead be looking to strengthen efforts to combat the discrimination faced by Muslim women, both in their communities and in the broader societies in which they live," AI said. "Their focus should be on empowering women to make their own choices, rather than limiting the range of choices available to them."
In neighboring Belgium, lawmakers approved a similar ban, but the political crisis (the country has been without a government for months) has derailed its enforcement. In Netherlands and in Italy, far-right politicians have called for similar laws. The proposals have sparked debate about religious freedom in Europe.
In France, police seem to be taking the ban seriously. Two veiled women were arrested Monday in front of the famous Notre Dame cathedral, Radio France International reports.
Share This Article With Planet Earth
All About Human Beings and How We Got To Be Here
Commentary: Coming geopolitical upheaval
Washington (UPI) Apr 11, 2011
Take the last two digits of the year in which you were born, then add the age you will be this year - and the result will be 111 for everyone born in the 20th century. This year will also experience four unusual dates: 1/1/11, 1/11/11, 11/1/11/ 11/11/11. October 2011 will have five Sundays, five Mondays and five Saturdays. This happens only every 823 years. A geopolitical ... read more
Economic impact of Japan disaster 'worse than thought'|
UN to urge boost to national disaster plans
Japan raises nuclear disaster to Chernobyl level
Fukushima 'not comparable' with Chernobyl: French watchdog
Researchers Find Replacement For Rare Material Indium Tin Oxide
Kindle e-reader cheaper with on-screen ads
Winklevoss twins lose Facebook appeal
Apple's iPad to remain top tablet in 2015: Gartner
EU fishing rules are fully operational: commission
Young penguins dying due to lack of food: study
Pamela Anderson pleads to China on seal meat
Hong Kongers back weddings without shark fin soup
Arctic Sea Ice Flights Near Completion
ESA Arctic Ice Campaign Takes Off
Sand Drift Explained
Russia Plans To Spend 195 Million Dollars On Antarctic Research Up To 2013
Brazil meat processor to invest $300 mn in China
Invasive Plant Threat Depends On Spatial
New Genetic Study Helps To Solve Darwin's Mystery About The Ancient Evolution Of Flowering Plants
Japanese queue to buy produce from nuclear crisis area
Body of US tsunami victim found on beach
An Electric Yellowstone Makes For Super Visuals
US offers help after Namibia flooding
Two Koreas hold fresh talks on volcanic threat
Gbagbo on pro-Ouattara TV: 'I want us to lay down arms'
EU split over African migration's 'human tsunami'
Water cut off in Abidjan's 'human tragedy': UN
Both victims of Port Sudan raid Sudanese: Khartoum
Commentary: Coming geopolitical upheaval
French veil ban comes into force
Pacific nations battle obesity epidemic
Elevated Levels Of Sodium Blunt Response To Stress
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2010 - SpaceDaily. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement|