Two Women Arrested Protesting France's Face-Covering Ban

This morning, two women were detained at a protest of France's veil ban outside Notre Dame Cathedral. France's ban on women covering their faces — effectively preventing women from wearing the niqab or a burqa — goes into effect today. Violators of the ban must pay a fine of 150 Euros.

The BBC reports, "Police said they were held not because of their veils but for joining an unauthorised protest against the ban." So basically, it wasn't one free speech expression, it was another. (Or a lack of permit).

The police's insistence on this distinction was strange, given that they're charged with enforcing these restrictions, as well as guidelines saying that rather than ask women to remove their veils in public, they should "escort them to a police station where they would be asked to uncover their faces for identification." Moreover, there are indications that at least some of the participants planned the protest with the explicit purpose of being arrested for civil disobedience against the ban.

Some have estimated that only about 2,000 women in France even wear a niqab or burka. And Reuters quotes one twenty-seven year-old woman (face uncovered) saying, "It's so stupid what they've done with this law because now people will wear the (full-face veil) not out of faith but because they are looking for a confrontation."

Women In face Veils Detained As France Enforces Ban [BBC]
As French Ban On Veils Goes Into Effect Some Women Defy The Law [NPR]
France Starts Ban On Full-Face Veil [Reuters]