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Under a controversial bill that would ban the wearing of the full Islamic veil in public, “delinquent” women in France could be forced to take citizenship courses to “remind them of the values of the French Republic”.
Women living in France who are caught wearing the full Islamic veil in public may be sent to compulsory “French citizenship classes” if supporters of a controversial bill get what they want.
The text of the bill would make it illegal to wear any clothing that hides your face in public places. The obvious target of the proposed law are som
The two thousand Muslim women of France who wear the religious habit from head to toe.
According to Justice Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie, who drafted the bill, “the full Islamic veil calls into question the values we share and the very principles by which we live together”.
The ban would not be limited to full Islamic veils, but would exclude specific items, such as face coverage imposed by safety regulations (helmets for motorcyclists or masks for construction workers) and those worn on special occasions. (costumed carnivals).
Foreigners, especially wealthy tourists from the Gulf states, would also be affected by the ban.
Women wearing full veils in public could be fined 150 euros. But the bill provides for a much harsher sentence for men found guilty of forcing their wife or daughter to cover their faces: one year in prison and a fine of 15,000 euros.
School of citizenship
In addition, the bill also proposes that fully veiled women receive “French citizenship” courses to “inform them or remind them of the values of the French Republic”.
“The courses aim to help women who wear the full veil to understand the reasons for the ban,” Eric Raoult, deputy of the center-right UMP party in power, told FRANCE 24.
Raoult, who participated in a parliamentary committee on the Islamic veil earlier this year, stressed that the courses would be designed to “educate women about their rights.”
“The small minority of women who wear the full veil in France live relatively isolated from society. They do not always know that the principle of equality between men and women is fundamental in France. We have to tell them that if their husband or father forces them to do or wear something they don’t want, the law is on their side, ”he said.
According to Raoult, the course would also focus on the negative effects of wearing the full veil in various practical situations. “A woman’s visual and auditory field is altered by the full veil. This can lead to dangerous situations while driving, or even crossing a busy street, ”explained the MP.
Raoult also discusses the potential risk to the safety of people hiding behind a full-face veil while engaging in criminal activity, such as shoplifting or bank robbery.
Another lesson would focus on France’s long tradition of secularism and why religious symbols are banned in public institutions like schools, government offices, and hospitals.
Resistance from jurists and some Muslims
The bill is expected to be submitted to parliament in July, where it is expected to meet some resistance despite the unanimous resolution of French lawmakers on May 11 condemning the burqa as “contrary to the values of the French Republic”.
Socialist opposition drafted alternative text restricting the ban to official state buildings and government offices, citing repeated warnings from the powerful Council of State that a ban in all public spaces could be considered unconstitutional .
“We fear that you are going too far,” Socialist deputy Jean Glavany told the Minister of Justice in the National Assembly on May 11. “We must defend the Republic with wisdom and insight”.
If and when the bill is enacted, a six-month period of “mediation and educational meetings” would seek to convince women to voluntarily remove the full-face veil.
Debate over full-face veil ban sparked warnings from various Muslims
organizations, which say the legislation could stoke tensions within the Muslim community of six million people in France.
“Rather than enacting a law prohibiting women from expressing their discomfort, we must reflect on what prompted them to want to cover themselves,” Mohamed Moussaoui, president of the French Council of Muslim Worship, told lawmakers in early May.
Last March, the lower house of the Belgian parliament voted to ban the wearing of the full Islamic veil in public, making it the first country in Europe to apply such a restriction.