An Insight Into France’s Ban on Burkas

On the train back from the beach we encountered ‘technical difficulties’ something inherently British yet impossible to avoid no matter where you go.

After over half an hour on the motionless train with the 30 degree heat boiling the puny humans in the crowded cabin I resorted to the Scottish response to a bit of sun commonly referred to as, ‘shorts on, taps aff’. To clarify, I already had my shorts on, but I took my ‘tap aff’ and sat in my bikini… and whit?! My blood is too thick for this climate. It was literally my only option. (It wasn’t, but I was too hot and I properly cannae stand the heat.)

Nearby, a woman wearing a hijab looked raaaaagin’!

So, it’s fine for a disgustingly pale Scot to take off her top in a crowded train but it’s illegal to cover up? The scene in the cabin illustrated the bizarreness of the new law in France, introduced in April of this year, which bans people from covering their face in public.

The ban was supposedly introduced to lift the oppression on niqabiats (folk that wear a niqab) but, it seems, the majority of woman who wear the niqab actually feel oppressed by the ban.

To clarify:

  • Niqab is a veil that covers a woman’s hair and face, leaving only a rectangle around the eyes.
  • Hijab is a piece of cloth worn by Muslim women which covers their hair, ears, and neck, leaving the face uncovered.
  • Burqa/burkha is a niqab but with a mesh screen which covers the eyes as well.

There seems to be a lot of confusion surrounding the reasons women wear the niqab but it is generally a personal response to how they interpret their religion, family traditions and exercise their freedom of choice. The women who wear the full veil believe that it is the wish of their creator that their beauty only be shared with their husband. When compared with our culture of wearing tiny wee skirts and whoring ourselves about, why is it these women who are being forced to change their ways?

It is a common belief that the women who wear the niqab are being forced to do so by male members of their family. When this is found to be the case in France, the person who has forced the full veil to be worn will be fined 30,000 euros and sentenced to a year in prison. If the person being oppressed is under 18 this may be doubled. If a woman wears the niqab in public by choice she will be fined 150 euros and forced to take a citizenship test.

In order to avoid being accused of being anti-Islamic, the law also covers bike helmets, hoodies, balaclavas and masks. Similarly, in 2004 the ban on religious symbols which was introduced after there was an increase in youths wearing the hijab to school was extended to include clothing such as turbans and Christian crosses.

France seems to be having a major identity crisis partly caused by its popularity with immigrants but masquerading cultural differences as security threats doesn’t seem to be helping the nation adhere to its three pillars of nationality Sarkozy has such a hard on for; Liberté, égalité and fraternité.

When did liberation stop including freedom of choice?

When did equality start to exclude people?

When was the last time your brother told you not to wear something out the house and you actually listened?

Fine France! Stop people in the street and demand identification and the removal of the face covering garment for security checks, but don’t remove the rights of those born and raised in France, deter visitors and render women with a certain personal preference housebound et pour quoi?

To gain a better sense of national identity in mixed cultured nation?  To liberate women by defying them freedom of choice? Oh, France! Get a grip!


By Claire Alexander (columnist 11/12)