Two Women Arrested Protesting France's Face-Covering Ban

Illustration for article titled Two Women Arrested Protesting Frances 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.

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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.

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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]

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DISCUSSION

cisum88note
cisum88note

You can't equate American free speech rights with French free speech rights. They're different countries with different standards and laws. American is notorious for having basically the most liberal free speech rights in the world.

I'm surprised that that estimated 2,000 number is so low. I personally have no idea, but as someone who lived in France for a relatively short period of time (6 months) and in a small city, I've counted at least two dozen women wearing the burqa just on my infrequent weekend travels. If I've seen that many in three weekends of random visiting Paris, Marseille, and Lyon, it would seem to represent a greater number of women than 2,000 who wear them, unless they're all tourists, but that seems unlikely.