FRANCE: European Court Upholds Face Veil Ban

2014-07-05 20:48

The European Court of Human Rights’ ruling reinforcing France’s comprehensive ban on the niqaab (full-face veil) is an infringement of a Muslims woman’s basic fundamental right: to dress the way she wants to. The veil ban is disturbing, disappointing and discriminatory against Muslim women.

Forcing a Muslim woman to take off her full-face veil in public is like stripping her of her self -respect, dignity and identity.

This ban is a direct transgression of personal and religious freedom and is surely in contradiction to the European Convention on Human Rights.

Izza Leghtas, a researcher at Human Rights Watch (HRW) said that “it is disappointing that the European Court has given its seal of approval to France’s blanket ban on full-face veils in public.” “Bans like these undermine the rights of women who choose to wear the veil and do little to protect anyone compelled to do so, just as laws in other countries forcing women to dress in a particular way undermine their rights.” (

Furthermore, James A. Goldston, executive director of the Open Society Justice Initiative said: “Coming at a time when hostility to ethnic and religious minorities is on the rise in many parts of Europe, the court's decision is an unfortunate missed opportunity to reaffirm the importance of equal treatment for all and the fundamental right to religious belief and expression.” (

How can a woman be liberated by outlawing her clothing? How can a woman be fined or imprisoned for an item of clothing? It is utterly disturbing.

The veil or niqaab is one of the most conspicuous and misunderstood piece of clothing of Muslim women. In Islam, no woman is brought up feeling inferior or subjugated.

It is “disingenuous and absurd” to link a piece of fabric to women’s oppression or subservience.

To a Muslim woman, her modesty, her dress and the way she portrays herself means a great deal to her.

In the Christian tradition, Paul ¬ordered women to cover their heads and, until the sixties, no woman would be seen in an English church without a hat and gloves. Likewise, orthodox Jewish women have traditionally worn wigs or hats over their real hair to conceal it from men who are not their husbands. Yet, only Muslim women seem to have been described as oppressed on account of their religious clothing.

The belief that any Muslim woman who wears the veil/ niqaab is forced to do so is totally false and demeaning. Muslim women are unfairly labelled as oppressed. Women who wear the full face veil lead a full and complete life. They are not stifled or oppressed by the face veil. It is a personal choice and worn out of love for Almighty God.

Both Muslim men and women are required to be modest and to conduct themselves responsibly and are equally accountable before Almighty God.

In Islam, males and females have an equal right to own property, travel, receive education and seek employment, as long as the guidelines of Islam are followed.

It so “strange” that society could accept near-nakedness in women but find covered women or women wearing a full face veil a problem. A woman in a scanty swimsuit is acceptable and considered perfectly normal, but a woman covered is seen as oppressed.

The hallmark of civilisation is to have mutual respect and consideration for diverse cultures, communities and religious beliefs.

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