France stands by veil ban after riots

2013-07-22 20:12

Paris - France's interior minister on Monday defended a ban on wearing full-face veils in public after a police check on a Muslim woman caused two nights of rioting near Paris, exposing tensions in immigrant-heavy suburbs.

The 2010 law was brought in by conservative former president Nicolas Sarkozy and targets burqa and niqab garments that conceal the face, rather than the headscarf that is more common among French Muslim women.

A police check on a couple in the southwest suburb of Trappes provoked an angry confrontation that led overnight on Friday to a police station being surrounded by several hundred people, some hurling rocks.

Another building was torched in several hours of street violence that led to six arrests.

"Police did their job perfectly," Interior Minister Manuel Valls told RTL radio.

"The law banning full-face veils is a law in the interests of women and against those values having nothing to do with our traditions and values. It must be enforced everywhere," he said.

The town of some 30 000 inhabitants, which has produced celebrities including soccer player Nicolas Anelka, was mostly calm on Monday as tow trucks carted away burnt cars.

Police made two further arrests in raids late on Sunday during which they were pelted with firecrackers from rooftops. Four other youths were due later on Monday to appear before a judge for sentencing.

But while Valls said that order had quickly been restored, opposition politicians accused him of minimising violence, which he acknowledged had spread for a while to three nearby towns.

Hollande has said the suburbs should be treated like any other part of France, but his government was accused of refusing to recognise that France was failing to integrate Muslims.

"There is a denial of reality, a refusal to see that violence is rising," said Jean-Francois Cope, head of the centre-right UMP party.

France counts Europe's largest Muslim population, estimated at around five million.

Yet according to interior ministry figures only between 400 and 2 000 women wear the veil and only a handful have been ordered to pay a fine for wearing it.

The riots marked the first time the ban had led to an outbreak of violence. But it was not the first example of rioting under Hollande, who faced two days of riots in the northern city of Amiens shortly after becoming president.

Analysts have long debated the causes of such outbreaks of violence, with some pointing to economic and social factors such as the rise in youth unemployment.

Around one in four youths are now jobless, a figure that is higher in many suburbs.

Others say the causes are more complex and point to efforts made by French authorities in recent years to regenerate such suburban zones.

Trappes itself has just emerged from a seven-year renovation plan and in 2011 won an award for its parks and the attractiveness of its environment.

  • Gary Landman - 2013-07-22 20:27

    Well who would have guessed that France would be the ones..? They are up in my estimation....!

  • Derek Bredenkamp - 2013-07-22 20:33

    She can't wear a veil but I can wear a crash helmet? This makes no sense!

      Avremel Niselow - 2013-07-22 20:42

      For one thing people don't riot of a cop asks you to remove your helmet.

      Derek Bredenkamp - 2013-07-22 21:00

      What on earth are you talking about Niselow? It makes no sense however you look at it. What's next, ban dark glasses?

      Avremel Niselow - 2013-07-22 21:03

      How difficult is this to understand? The problem with a burka is partially that the wearer will refuse to remove it when so instructed. That is what sparked these riots.

      Avremel Niselow - 2013-07-22 21:05

      As well as the ridiculous, sexist nature of the garment.

  • Jurgen Eksteen - 2013-07-22 20:46

    Finally a country with a backbone to stand up against Islam demands. They are finally living down WW2 ;p

      Johan De Beer - 2013-07-23 04:46


  • Colin Ashby - 2013-07-22 20:55

    It could have been a guy all dressed up

  • Mickey J Wild - 2013-07-22 21:21

    It would be the same if a women wanted to walk around in a bikini top in Saudi because it was hot. They may even cut her head off. As they say when in Rome do as the Romans do. Follow the law as it is laid out.

      Ahava Shapiro - 2013-07-22 21:32

      This is the most sensible comment on here.

      Ridwana Hendricks - 2013-07-22 21:34

      Good point. Would you support a law allowing people to walk in public completely naked?

      Adil Smit - 2013-07-22 22:03

      If you choose a country to live in and you are given citizenship, then accept the values of your new home and what the majority in that country finds acceptable.Why go and live there otherwise?

      Odirile Seemise - 2013-07-22 22:26

      Quite correct Adil... But that's until you believe you civilized and those inhabitants are backwards then want want to change them through force or trickery into doing things Your way, the so called civilized way... West are masters at imposing their ways on others but none should dare do the same to them.

      Ridwana Hendricks - 2013-07-22 22:33

      Adil, follow the law of the country, I agree provided it does not infringe on the rights of citizens. Would you support a law in south africa should they decide tomoRrow that the death penalty be implemented? Why should the person that does not wear the niqab have that right not to but the one who wants to wear it does not have that right?constitutional law, the right to freedom of religion.

      Themba Khumalo - 2013-07-23 09:37

      Ridwaana, is there freedom of religion in Islamic countries? Is the pope allowed in Mecca?

  • Mofasah - 2013-07-22 21:41

    Sexist is objectifying women, these days women are getting paid to take their clothes off, others are getting fined when they choose to cover up. The human race seems to be losing the plot from all fronts as to what constitutes civilisation..............or the end is very near!

      Themba Khumalo - 2013-07-23 09:32

      Why dont you also ask the men to wear veils?

  • Garrick Dunstan - 2013-07-22 21:59

    Yeah quite correct, makes complete sense to me, when in Rome do as the Romans do

  • Nathan Lombard - 2013-07-22 23:12

    Vive le France! If you don't like French laws, BUGGER OFF!!!!

  • Ebony Love - 2013-07-22 23:51

    Send all these rioting headbangers back to their country of origin and let them try and riot there!!!!!!!!

  • Chris R-e - 2013-07-23 00:08

    Have no problem with Islam or its wonderful ppl but surely if i can't have a beer or show affection in public in Saudi Arabia, France (a Christian country) can enforce their rules as they see fit. As i see it, the world is a bit too preoccupied with human rights and civil liberties. The law is the law is the law.

  • Shawon Tiltman - 2013-07-23 02:28

    Four Catholic men and a Catholic woman were having coffee. The first Catholic man tells his friends, "My son is a priest, when he walks into a room, everyone calls him 'Father'." The second Catholic man chirps, "My son is a Bishop. When he walks into a room people call him 'Your Grace'." The third Catholic gent says, "My son is a Cardinal.. When he enters a room everyone says 'Your Eminence'." The fourth Catholic man then says, "My son is the Pope. When he walks into a room people call him 'Your Holiness'." Since the lone Catholic woman was sipping her coffee in silence, the four men give her a subtle, "Well....?" She proudly replies, "I have a daughter, slim, tall, 38D breast, 24" waist and 34" hips. When she walks into a room, people say, "Oh My God."

  • patrick.masseyhicks - 2013-07-23 06:07

    That's the law of that country unfortunately. Same as a French woman wouldn't be allowed in public in a bikini in Saudi Arabia.

  • Vivian Harris - 2013-07-23 06:58

    Why the riot? Its the law of the country. Non-muslims must cover up when they are in islamic countries because its the law.

  • Melissa May Williams - 2013-07-23 10:08

    Good for France , if you leave your home country by choice and take up residence in another country you must adapt to their laws not the other way round, or you can just go back home. When we travel to the Middle East we have to abide by their laws or we will be locked up period, I have travelled their and they couldn't care if you dont abide by their laws they will punish you. why must other countries bend their laws? Shouldn't it work both ways?

  • Ogi Jakov - 2013-07-23 10:23

    I fully agree with the French...If they dont like the laws of France they can leave and go back to their countries. Everybody is bowing down to Muslims in their own countries. In Muslim counties women have to wear a head scarf even if they are not Muslim(i lived in few of those countries). Why can't Muslim countries respect our religions and customs but we have to for their.Enough is enough.

  • Craig Thom - 2013-07-23 10:44

    Intergration in a country is about fitting in,imagine if a european woman went to Saudi arabia and wore a mini skirt in the street!if they cannot abide by the country rules and prefer wear a burka then they should go back to there countries of origin.FIFO

  • Nick Cloete - 2013-07-23 11:36

    Couldn't have said it better myself.

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