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Should France ban the full veil?

12:01 UK time, Tuesday, 13 July 2010

France's lower house of parliament has approved a ban on wearing the Islamic full veil in public.

The legislation would make it illegal for women to wear the burka or the niqab in public. Fines of 150 euros (£119) are envisaged for women wearing the veils and men who force their wives to wear the burka could receive a fine of 30,000 euros and a year jail term. If the bill is ratified by the Senate in September, it will become law.

There are estimated to be only about 2,000 women wearing the full veil in France, with most of these in the niqab rather than the burka, although the bill is opposed by many of France's five million Muslims.

The bill has broad cross-party support in the National Assembly and opinion polls suggest overwhelming public support.

Do you wear the burqa or niqab? What do you think of the proposed ban? Should the government have a say in what people wear? If the ban goes ahead, what will it achieve? Are some Islamic veils banned where you live?

Thank you for your comments. This debate is now closed.


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  • Comment number 1.

    No, people should be free to wear what they want (providing they are not exposing themselves of course). That is the proper right-wing attitude to take, one of freedom from state control and not, as the highly biased article states one of 'fear of foriegners' - that's for left wing statists (BNP, Labour etc) not libertarians.
    I have every sympathy for those women forced into wearing these chains. However, many of the women interviewed are not wearing these veils for religeous reasons but for political ones. It is a high visibility 'here we are, we are different and we care nothing for your views or culture' stance. It is a direct provocation and it is about time the PC bound BBC woke up to the fact.

  • Comment number 2.

    It's up to France. Personally I think it's stupid to ban the veil and will only add to more resentment on both sides. It does though bring into question How can too totally different ideologies (The Western way of life & Islam) possible live together in the same country?

  • Comment number 3.

    No. Regardless of what Islam might mean to me, regardless of what the Niqab implies about men and women, regardless of all that...

    The state doesn't have the right to decide on what I wear. If we let the state decide that, what *else* will we give up?

  • Comment number 4.

    I am totally un-decided in this debate. There are strong arguements for both sides. I do believe the veil does not fit in with France's culture, but on the other hand people can wear whatever they like!

    Probably the best idea is not to make it illegal, but to discorage people from wearing the veil. People should be influenced, not forced.

  • Comment number 5.

    What's next, compulsory berets and a link of onions around your neck ?

    Wear whatever you want, it makes no difference to me.

  • Comment number 6.

    Obviously only the French can say whether it is right for them to ban the full veil in public. I think it is excessive and unnecessary; rather than targeting particular items of clothing, laws should regulate behaviour i.e. covering the face. It is impractical to ban covering the face in public (people wear crash helmets, coats with big hoods, etc). Like many Europeans I am appalled at how "Islamophobia" (a purely fictitious phenomenon) is used to smear anyone with concerns regarding the influence of Islamic culture in Europe and elsewhere, but this policy just seems mean-spirited and unfair.

    Having said that, progressive regimes in the Middle East (e.g. Turkey and Iran pre-1979) have restricted the veil and greatly increased the personal freedom of women by pitting enlightened state policy against cultural backwardness. The real question for European countries is why have their previous policies regarding immigration allowed the same kind of backwardness to be transplanted on to their soil, to such an extent that policies mimicking those of the Kemalists and the Shah are called for?

    I would, however, support a ban on concealing one's face in public buildings, including public transport, govt offices, hospitals and places of education (incl. universities).

  • Comment number 7.


  • Comment number 8.

    This shows a complete ignorance of the Muslim faith. They are under some misguided idea that they're liberating these poor down trodden women, when actually all they are doing is taking the choice away from them. It was my understanding that under human rights legislation people are free to express their faith without interference from the state. I am disgusted that this paranoia about the muslims is so wide spread, fundamental christians are just as dangerous, but more difficult to spot since they don't advertise their faith so obviously.

  • Comment number 9.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 10.

    I don't like this question - as a woman I hate the ideology behind them and hate passing someone wearing one in the street (not because I'm scared they could be a terrorist but they make me really uncomfortable).

    However I'm not sure the government can (or should) stop the odd few from wearing them.

  • Comment number 11.

    Its official

    French frightened by bit of cloth.

    Personally I believe that the human instinct to be afraid of anyone different is a remnant dating back to humanity's nomadic, pre-civilisation history.

    Making anyone who can't overcome that instinct with logic and rationality something of an evolutionary throwback....

  • Comment number 12.

    Why not I have to take my crash helmet off to get petrol

  • Comment number 13.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 14.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 15.

    I can't understand the BBC's article. All they've done is talk about which countries are banning it, but they have missed the point. They have purposely not reported on the victimisation of women in Islamic countries who are forced to wear the headscarf. Those women who are beaten, flogged and imprisoned. No mention whatsoever. The article stinks of political correctness.

    If these Muslims feel they must be covered (or the Muslim women) must be covered from head to toe, what does that say about their opinion of women who don't cover up?? Therein lies the problem.

  • Comment number 16.

    So wearing a full Islamic veil in public is to become illegal in France, but not the wearing of a full mascot suit? Looking forward to some bizarre outcomes from this ruling, if so...

  • Comment number 17.

    It's their Country, and if they want to ban it, they should.

    After all if I go to a Muslim Country, I have to obey their rules. I don't see them changing their way of life to accommodate Westerners.

  • Comment number 18.

    Islamic countries dictate what western women wear in their own countries, so it is fair that we should dictate what they wear in western countries. But more importantly, we just can't have people walking around with their faces covered. It's a security risk. Hoods should also be banned (and i think the proposed law does cover this)

  • Comment number 19.

    got nothing against veil ,but covering your face that is a problem on many levels starting with security issue as first.
    how about we all start to cover our face and hide behind "cultural or religious values",nevermind that nowhere in religion says about covernig your face.

  • Comment number 20.

    Well, I'm not French and don't even live there, but I dare to say that the veil should be banned. Women who wear them are either forced to do it or have been brain-washed badly.

  • Comment number 21.

    Bearing in mind that the majority of Muslim States have very strict dress rules, I cannot see there being any argument if France wishes do likewise.

  • Comment number 22.


  • Comment number 23.

    Yes,Burqua should be banned at public places.
    Burqua is anti-women in its nature.
    Historically Burqua or Naqab was used in middle east(desert areas)to protect skin.Why muslim men dont wear a Burqua or Naqab?Anyways ladies wearing a Burqua present a horror at public places.Many people(ladies and children)frighten with such kind of dresses.
    In south Asia where cultural diversity is common,many ladies are harassed because of Burqua.Actually notorious males of other communities can easily know their muslim identity.

  • Comment number 24.

    France along with other European nations are pandering to the right wing and racist/islamophobic parts of their society. These same nations which less than 50 years ago were colonial masters in many islamic nations during which time they did a thing about integrating into these nations! The way forward is for the Muslim world to hit back and sanction those nations which openly attack Islamic sentiment either through trade embargoes... Sadly the lackeys in charge of almost all Muslim nations would never lift a finger to protect Muslims in European nations.

  • Comment number 25.

    If women wish to wear veils I have no problem with that. If men force them to wear them I do have a problem. However, if women are working in schools or hospitals the veils should not be allowed for obvious reasons.

  • Comment number 26.

    I fully support the ban in France.

    This is one of those issues where hand-wringing discussion is a very good thing. We have the advantage of history to see where restrictions upon personal liberty have been supported by persons with good intentions but have gone bad. So it must be done properly and with lots of checks and balances.
    Yes, there will be millions of Muslim women happy to wear the more restricting veils, but I believe the majority of these are conditioned to come to this conclusion; cue the old football on true freedom of choicce that has been kicked around by the great liberal philosophers for the last 350 years.
    An example of a recent intervention against Muslims in Europe which is bad, is Switzerland's ban on Mosque building - largely one supposes that was a reaction to provocation from the Geneva Islamic centre, but it was still wrong.
    Well done the French. Now, when are we going to get serious about Sarkozy's proposal for a Maghreb relationship, based in Barcelona? This would be a wonderful step forward, and the best way to prevent Huntington's nightmare clash of civilsations.

  • Comment number 27.

    I think this is an excellent move by France. They are a bold country who are not afraid to make sensible moves to ensure a secular society. I have nothing against muslims, or people of any other religion. And I respect the right of people to worship whomever and however they choose (as long as it doent harm anyone else). BUT, any nations sovereign laws come first. And it SHOULD be illegal for a portion of any society to routinely walk around with their face covered. It is common sense. Well done France.

  • Comment number 28.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 29.

    Good on France. Let's hope its not too far away before we adopt the same approach. I find them offensive and a symbol of oppression (regardless of what all the do-good, PC brigades think and spout off about "civil liberties"). The sooner fines are imposed for the wearing of these masks the better.

  • Comment number 30.

    Although I am no protagonist of the full veil and my wife does not don one, I am for the full freedom of choice as to what one wears as along as it is decent and modest. If France passes this bill, it would amount to strangulating freedom in its real term. Let people decide what to wear and what is comfortable to them. People tatoo their whole body and nobody objects. Catholic nuns do cover their whole body with the habit and nobody raises a finger then why raise a storm over a Muslim woman wearing a full veil. France should learn to assimmilate and accommodate various cultures instead of singling out Islamic culture as odd and eerie. One swallow does not make a summer as does not one terrorist blemish the entire existence of Islamic culture. The only place a Muslim woman should be asked to remove the veil is at security checkpoints in overall interest.

  • Comment number 31.

    I would accept this law if it was universal in France; that is, if it was against the law for anyone, Immigrant or citizen, to wear any covering that obscures the face.
    This means the legisltation would make it illegal for man, woman, or child to wear the burka, the niqab, or any other garment across the face in public. Fines of 150 euros (£119) would apply to men, women and children.
    This would be what I would reference as a fair law, and not a law that applies only to France's five million Muslims.
    Surely the public could see the advantage in being able to identify any and all faces, not just Muslim women.

  • Comment number 32.

    just sounds like more muslim bashing if you ask me.

    divide and rule, as the economy is going down the tubes

  • Comment number 33.

    As is often the case, the French are right. Veils are a grotesque attack on female and human rights, and should be made illegal everywhere. How anyone can defend such medieval practices defies belief.

  • Comment number 34.

    Leave veil wearing alone. Afterall, we know "A hood doesn't make a monk."

  • Comment number 35.

    Excellent idea. We should do it here as well.

    Sorry, but to me it's a security point in all these street cameras if we all started wearing them, is there?

  • Comment number 36.

    "3. At 12:45pm on 13 Jul 2010, Snarkhunter wrote:

    The state doesn't have the right to decide on what I wear. If we let the state decide that, what *else* will we give up?"

    Do you live in a country where you can walk into a government building or bank wearing a ski-mask without a security guard pulling a gun on you, or walk down the street naked without getting a fine? And what will you say to a shop-owner who's just been robbed by someone wearing a burqa (this has already happened in the UK)?

  • Comment number 37.

    Face-covering is not a requirement of Islam - it is women's hair which is supposed to be covered. Face-covering is cultural, and goes back earlier than Islam.

    If France finds face-covering unacceptable, why not move to Saudi Arabia, for instance? Finding that there is no choice other than to cover up may make the idea less attractive.....

  • Comment number 38.

    >>5. At 12:51pm on 13 Jul 2010, General_Jack_Ripper wrote:
    >>What's next, compulsory berets and a link of onions around your neck ?

    >>Wear whatever you want, it makes no difference to me.

    LOL classic! Best post I've seen on here. Says it all really!

  • Comment number 39.

    I need to be convinced about the reasons for it being worn in the first place. I don't believe it's just a callous social weapon to keep women oppressed, although I've yet to hear a really coherent and compelling arguement to counter what everybody believes, being that it is a callous social weapon to keep women oppressed.

    Saying that, I wouldn't want anyone banning me from wearing something I thought was important to me, if indeed that's the case, but I'd love for someone to post a really good reason or reasons for it on this HYS today.

    Maybe we could take our own vote?

    I Muslim pal told me (although his wife doesn't wear one) that he used to think that it was like keeping a secret from the world and only you alone and God are able to see the beauty of your wife, which I thought was quite romantic, in a way. Not sure that's a good enough reason for it myself though.

  • Comment number 40.

    It's Burka bashing time again!
    Let's extend this to the UK as well no face coverings.
    A bit harsh on clowns and the Stig but hay why miss the opportunity to sow racial discontent.

    We can also include all those who drive in Chelsea Tractors with tinted windows I want to see the face of the individual who is giving me the finger after carving me up at the roundabout!

    If individuals choose to wear face coverings, genuine personal choice, and if they also accept the need to remove them when it is necessary to establish identity then let them.

    It doesn't effect me and certainly doesn't cause me any offence to see a Muslim women with or without a Vail.

  • Comment number 41.

    I think it's good for one simple reason: it will be the first legislative decision that finally starts to claw back on the devastating damage done by 30 years of enforced cultural suicide. The whole idea that all cultures and religions are to be equally respected is preposterous, even as an amateurish hypothesis. And this is a great one. Why should the West, after bringing civilization to its proper place, hamper itself with made-up, pseudo-medieval religious practices such as wrapping females up in cloth bags? Well done France, and I'm glad to see almost universal support for this as well.

    And just another quick thought. Have you noticed (by their lack of conspicuousness that is!) that the so-called women's rights groups are strangely silent and ambivalent at best on this great one. Just a thought. Now think about that and let me know why that happened. Could it be that multi-cultural tolerance of weird "Arabic" practices garners more "points" than the plight of the female in general? In other words is the labyrinthine pantheon that is the liberal entitlement and victimization structure we have in many Western states really based on strategic politics? I think it is.

  • Comment number 42.

    If they want to wear them, so be it. But don't expect me to hold a conversation with them. Our culture of communication is based on body language and if I can't see facial expressions then I don't talk to them.

  • Comment number 43.

    Such things belong in the past and are part of the oppression of women in some countries.

  • Comment number 44.

    What happened to the liberty in "Liberté, Egalité and Fraternité"???

    I agree that men forcing their women to wear burkas against their will should be punished; however I assume there are laws already in place for these cases.

  • Comment number 45.

    Yes.... all face coverings should be banned and this has nothing to do with religion.

    In a so called free society, yes people should be allowed to wear what they like but, there are already laws in place that limit this. I mean you can't do around naked or wear very offensive clothing.

    The thing is though, this is where cultures clash. In Europe (or the west) we have a very liberal culture and for me the veil just causes divisions. Everyone wants society to be inclusive and multicultural, I am all for this but for me, someone wearing a veil is saying I have my culture and you have yours and never the twain shall meet.

    I shall await the shouting down for saying this but, why do women have to wear the veil anyway? Surely it is a symbol of oppression and has no place in modern European culture.

  • Comment number 46.

    If you're not permitted to wear a motorcycle helmet or anything else obscuring your face in a French public building, then why would an article of clothing that covers your face, which is not compulsory or a fundamental part of Islam, be deemed acceptable?

    I am with the French here, you cannot allow preferential treatment for one form of obscuring one's face under the misguided banner of religion (as long as it is the "right" religion, lets not forget that Jedis have been booted out of public buildings because their robes cover their faces) and treat other forms differently.

  • Comment number 47.

    I completely agree with them being banned, not due to religious belief etc... but due to the fact that for instance you can't wear a motorcycle helmet on a garage forecourt, or have a hood up in a shop... For security reasons. simply... you cant be identified.

    It is a security threat to not be able to see someone.

    ... Might help with fraud too, you are not made to remove a burqa when showing photographic ID for finance, flying etc...

    Lastly, in the UK for instance children are no longer able to wear a cross on a chain in school as this may offend people with other religious beliefs so this would just add to that animosity.

  • Comment number 48.

    In public no, in public places (in the same way the smoking ban works) yes. Why? You cannot discriminate against people for wearing the burqa, and if you allow someone wearing one to go into a bank, but not someone wearing a ski-mask then thats discrimination.

  • Comment number 49.

    I would agree if it was necessary to identify someone in say a security check, or obtaining benefit, etc.

    With regard to use in a public place I do not see the need to ban it.

    On the otherhand I do know that wearing of 'religious' clothing, such as the headress worn by Sikh's for example is purely arbitary. They wear such clothing to show that they can.

    I deplore the use of religious artifacts as a 'cause' even when it is a crucifix worn by an employee of an organisation that has a dress code that states 'no jewellry'.

    The government recently asked which laws would the public like to see removed. I would remove the laws on blasphemy and the promotion of religious intolerance. I would then say it's OK for a member of the public who refused to serve someone or allow them onto their premises because they wore the veil could not be prosecuted by that veiled person.

    If schools could expel children who wore the veil out of choice, in direct contradiction to school uniform rules, then we would see the veil rapidly disappearing.

    The only reason this story exists is because we allow it. Stop pandering to ALL religions and watch as it slowly dissapears into history.

  • Comment number 50.

    I quite agree with Sarkozy on this, it is a dark side of Islam that we do not need. People are free to worship as they please-that does not include imposing social mores on those who do not want it. Those islamists who consider this repression should consider the fact that many have come here to escape repression in their own countries. THAT MEANS THEY LEFT THAT BEHIND. That means that they also leave their 400 year old anachronisms behind. No excuse to hide and no excuse not to speak the language. They are not here as holiday makers

  • Comment number 51.

    Does the punishment fit the crime here? The punishment is financial. The crime is the apparent threat of terrorism and the alledged oppression of women.

    And that's a financial penalty is it?

    I'm fed up with these laws that make normally abiding people into instant criminals. If there is a genuine threat of terrorism or oppression of women then why not make the punishment more of a deterrant or at least make a point of showing how important the law actually is.

    Deport everyone wearing a burka - regardless of what passport or nationality they have - then at least the law will have the strength of its principles matched with the punishment.

    Putting a flimsy E150 on this "crime" is more stupid than trying to enforce it.

    Bon voyages les idiots!

  • Comment number 52.

    Yes.........and the UK should follow suit.

  • Comment number 53.

    Toad in the hole... are you looking to expel Muslims from Western nations?

  • Comment number 54.

    People can wear what they want and say what they want as long as they do not incite violence in any way.
    Mullahs preaching hate should be sent back to their country of origin and not be allowed back in, and women should wear their veils if they so choose so themselves.
    France is a democratic country and its laws should be respected by everyone living there.If people are not happy there, perhaps they should move away.
    How hard is that to understand?

  • Comment number 55.

    "13. At 1:00pm on 13 Jul 2010, D wrote:

    i think its ridiculous and like Obama scoffed "we dont tell people what to wear, i think hitler did that"

    Lol, someone should punish Obama for those words by attending a white house dinner in the nude, oh that's right, that'll get you a hefty fine for public indecency from the lovely folks at the Washington Metro PD so I guess America, like any other country, does tell people what to wear...

    So let's cut the crap: we can't prohibit nudists and bank robbers with ski-masks from dressing the way they want and then say we can't ban the burqa because "we don't tell people what to wear". Radical Islam or nudism, which is the more hateful ideology? I think the answer is clear.

  • Comment number 56.

    When you travel or move to another nation, you must abide by their laws (however foolish they may seem). Perhaps the ultimate goal is to minimize the inflow of Muslims to France and possibly get rid of a few??

  • Comment number 57.

    It's up to the French people. However, if this was happening In Britain, I would definitely say yes, ban it. I don't think these women do wear it freely. It stems from oppressive religious brainwashing and the western world has moved on from this medieval type thinking.
    To me it's a way of these women saying "I am different, I want to be different and I don't want to integrate." I find it all very imposing and pathetic. This is the 21st century, not the 11th.

  • Comment number 58.

    France is a secular country and so according to French principles everybody there should behave accordingly, and keep its religious beliefs form themselves out of the public arena.
    Obviously it is far more complicated and this attempts fits very well with the existence of the ministry of "Immigration and Identité Nationale etc..", created by his Shortness nicolas sarkozy the first (and The Last I hope), and whose main goal is to fill charter planes with illegal immigrants.
    So muslims are not well considered at the moment by the French authorities and this un-necessary, un_wanted, un-asked for law goes well with the pathetic attempt and failure of national debate about "Identité Nationale" in the winter!

    One of the real reason of this very brave law (few hundred hardcore people are targeted) is somewhere else. This law and the debate that goes with are designed mainly, if not only, to have the attention of the people and the media taken away from some much more serious issues: such as the pension reform, discussing about how to share more fairly the GDP, the future of French social protection, the reform of the Justice system, etc etc etc.

    So this law is humiliating, un-necessary, and will be voted by very brave MPs that will vote as they are told, as it is usual in France.
    Shame on us.

  • Comment number 59.

    No - banning the veil would be a huge body blow to Freedom and democracy. The beginning of legislation to regulate people's chosen clothing is a very danger route to take! What might be next - short skirts, slogan-emblazoned t-shirts ..... ?

  • Comment number 60.

    People keep mentioning that they cannot wear a crash helmet into a bank, so why should veiled women be allowed to. This is an extremely amateurish analogy; the law being debated in France is about banning the veil in public! No law prevents you from wearing a crash helmet in public, so why ban a veil?

  • Comment number 61.

    Might the time and effort enforcing this law be better spent on showing Muslims and all other Religious believers that they are simply wasting their time believing what they believe?

    There is absolutely no need or reason for any human being to have any kind of 'religious' belief. Therefore, there is also absolutely no need or reason for any human being to wear any kind of clothing or symbol associated with such unnecessary and outdated beliefs.

  • Comment number 62.

    The Flying Spaghetti Monster comes to mind: beat the religious sheeple and their apologists at their own game. If anything religious goes then maybe nudists should invent a religion so they'll be allowed to be naked in public and Nazis could declare Hitler their god so they'll be allowed to march in full uniform down Paris and robbers could start the church of the ski-mask so that they'd be allowed to walk into a bank or a store wearing ski-masks.

    Hiding behind your religion doesn't automatically make everything you do OK.

  • Comment number 63.

    Wearing of any kind of cloth that prohibites proper identification of an individual should be ban for the sake of National Security. The police can tell better how difficult it is to identify the sex or pertinant body marks of an individual wearing full Islamic veil. Western Democracy always raises individual right at the expense of National Interest turning blind eys at the Bad guys just to benefit cheap popular Party Interest.You cannot Fight terrorism with Blind Eye.

  • Comment number 64.

    18. At 1:04pm on 13 Jul 2010, typicallistener wrote:
    Islamic countries dictate what western women wear in their own countries, so it is fair that we should dictate what they wear in western countries.


    Certain (not all) islaamic countries dictate what all women can wear - its not restricted to foreigners.

    In the west we don't tell our women how to dress, therefore this law discriminates only against muslim women who want to wear the veil.

  • Comment number 65.

    Banning the burkha is at the opposite end of the legislative kline to banning nudity. If legislation is required to ensure propriety, respect for others and common sense, then so be it. The French have a different mindset to the British; legislation is normally in the interest of and with the consent of the majority, and minorities are expected to conform; to me this is quite reasonable and we would do well to adopt the same attitude. In France, being French is considered to be a privilege, and anything that is not in the interest of and does not have the consent of the majority is considered to be not-French. In return for the privilege, a responsibility prevails that safeguards what is French by the simple application of common sense, and thereby maintains a corporate national interest and identity.

  • Comment number 66.

    I support a ban on concealing one's face in public buildings, including public transport, govt offices, hospitals, places of education, places of business. In their own society and homes they may wear what they want.
    If motorbike helmet wearers had become associated with atrocities these would have been banned (comment 12) - except when on a bike.
    Be clear that the French or anyone else in a Muslim country would be expected to clothe themselves in an appropriate manner for that country - whether they are long term living in that country or tourists would make no difference. European countries need to maintain their own cusoms and ways.

  • Comment number 67.

    Restricting the freedom to wear what we want or adhere to our religious principles is basically wrong. Do these women do anything other than go about their day-to-day business? What harm does it do? Personally, I'm more uncomfortable (in some cases scared) when a Jehovah's Witness knocks on my door unsolicited or when I'm targeted by Mormons in the street because I'm 'alone' (I state these examples from personal experience). These people are trying to force their religion on you - a woman wearing a veil as part of her faith is not doing anything other than adhering to her belief system and not engaging anyone else.

    I do acknowledge it is important to be able to be identified in certain circumstances - but the equivalent requirements to people wearing crash helmets should surely be applied?

    What needs to be addressed is the prejudices against these veils - if other people feel uncomfortable around women wearing these veils, then that is their issue that needs to be dealt with.

    Instead of fines, what does need to be put in place is some sort of 'sanctuary' where the women who are being forced to wear a full veil - or who are generally being oppressed in the name of their religion - can go to obtain guidance, support and, if necessary, protection. No-one should be made to dress a certain way - by their family or by their Government.

    However, it is unfair to assume that no woman would choose to wear a full veil - some do and to remove this civil liberty should not be allowed.

    This is a matter of human rights. If this is passed - what item of clothing will be restricted next? Will women be allowed to keep wearing trousers? Will men be stopped from wearing socks with sandals (it may be offensive to some)? It is simply just ridiculous!

    I would like to point out that I do not practice any religion but acknowledge the right for every individual to have their own beliefs and follow them how they see fit.

  • Comment number 68.

    I would like to know is burqa or niqab national dress or religious dress because not all muslims wear them and it seems to be country based. I have been told that the Koran only requires women to be modestly dressed and does not infact require the viel. Is this correct?

  • Comment number 69.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 70.

    If thats the wish of the french people then so be it. If i were to visit an islamic state i would be expected to cover up from head to toe and i would respect that particular countries culture.
    If you choose to live in a country where the main belief or culture is different to your own then you have to respect that, if you disagree so strongly then don't go there.
    If you are lucky enough to be able to choose another country to live in then surely you would choose that country because you like its culture. If you are seeking asylum in fear for your life then you would be more than happy to accept the culture of the country offering a life line.

  • Comment number 71.

    One and for all, France is a SECULAR country. Religion is a private matter. If you want to refer to God in public non stop either by speech or way of dress go elsewhere.

  • Comment number 72.

    I am British but live in France. Some of my French friends are moslems (dressed like the rest of us), and their parents still live in Maroc where their Mum wears a scarf with her face uncovered. I hate the sight of women in masks - but I grew up in London during the Irish troubles and any mask is a threatening sight to me. I have no idea, however why I fear a man in a mask, a woman in a mask, but not a motorcyclist or a skier in appropriate face cover. I think this may be like a fear of spiders and too deep inside to be explained rationally, and perhaps this is why it is so hard to argue sensibly. In my own case I am sure religion has nothing to do with it, only the woman's need to proclaim how different she is from the majority and her reluctance to belong to the group among which she has chosen to live.

    Perhaps I need to discuss it with my moslem friends tomorrow - the French National Holiday when friends and families from all backgrounds get together to enjoy an excess of food and frivolity. How many masked moslem women will be mixing with Christian and other friends tomorrow?

  • Comment number 73.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 74.

    Difficult one. The civil libertarian in me says adults can wear what they like. But we have no way of knowing to what degree of coercian is currently involved to wear the veil, or the degree to which women will be forced out of public appearance in France if the ban comes in. Rather than directly going for the veil, French/Western education should not pander to religious/cultural coercian (from ANY religion/culture be it Islam, Catholicism, etc.) within the youngest population. The next generation must not feel it has to `react' or `revive' against `oppression' from within or from outside.

  • Comment number 75.

    La France ... a country famed worldwide for it's pornography, most financially profitable sex industry and presidents who have extra-marital affair after affair.

    ... And now the country is up in arms over banning Muslim dress, Niqab, worn by less than 2000 in a country of millions, because they have found out that there are people out there who dare to openly believe in values other than the "superior" French ones... aaah, neo-colonial times are back again (or have they never gone).

    Same thing with the minaret ban in Switzerland... again... you'd be hard pressed to find a minaret there. It's all about trying to ignore and make invisible all signs of Islam.

    Considering how few minarets there are in Switzerland and how few Niqabs and Burkas are worn in France... something else must be going on... right?

    Hypocracy, anyone?

  • Comment number 76.

    I fully support a ban. Why? Because it could be ANYONE under that veil. Regardless of what the critics say, it is oppressive. Why don't you see men covering themselves up in a similar fashion?

  • Comment number 77.

    In the ongoing debate about whether the niqab/burqa should be banned there are many counter-arguments based on rights and freedoms of choice, but rights are not automatic, they are based on duties. The full-veil is counter to values and principles of western countries. It treats women in a disrespectfully object-like manner, and can be imposed in an oppressive way.
    Further to that France, unlike the United Kingdom, for example, is a secular country and so has further justification to ban something that is not just socially and politically controversial, but also an obviously religious symbol.
    Secularism is based on the concept that the nation and its values have total primacy over religion, and religious differences. On that basis the French are totally justified to ban the full-face veil.

  • Comment number 78.

    I don't have a definite answer to this one.

    Let idiots wear what idiots want to wear, I guess I'd say.

    The source of the problem for France was its greedy desire for Empire (UK the same). Now these western countries are saddled with the legacy of that empire; France had a virtually open door to people who do not value freedom of speech and expression except when it suits them.

  • Comment number 79.

    I don't agree with banning wearing the Hijab in public, but where security is an issue, you have to be able to identify the face, just the same as motorcycle helmets. Identity can be confirmed in private by a female official.

  • Comment number 80.

    Ban it in public places along with other symbolic items of clothing that are associated with hate, such as Nazi uniforms and the white sheets worn by the Ku Klux Klan. It can be worn in the home or in places for religious worship.
    Wearing the veil in public is not about religious freedom; it is not about an individual's right to free expression, and it is not about women having some sort of right to wear clothes that please their husbands - akin to a middle eastern style of Anne Summers clothing - it is about cultural supremacy. And this is incompatible with great efforts made in post war Europe to combat racism.

  • Comment number 81.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 82.

    On must remember that burqa or niqab were not designed for modern living. When they were introduced women did not go into banks; drive cars; fly or were security risks. I have to take off my crash helmet when entering a bank.

    I also do not understand how a woman can turn up for a interview without wearing either and then insist when she starts work that her religion requires it. Why was it not required at the time of the interview.

    Some hypocrisy here.

  • Comment number 83.

    In my view its very sad so called democratic country like France, do not
    let its citizens practice their human rights. If a western women can wear clothes they want, regardless of how and what they wear, why not Muslim women wear Nicab. This is the democracy we teach our children.

    By mocking Islamic values and freedom, can acheive nothing and in long term it will affect french economically and politically.

    People from Muslim countries eventually stop travelling to them as well stop doing business with these hipocrats.

  • Comment number 84.


    Muslim men and women, if they disagree with this ruling, should move out of France and go to where their particular dress code is acceptable.

    I give thanks that at least one European country has the courage to speak out on the matter.

    I can foresee expensive law suits over Islamic veil wearing and that civil rights will be cited in defence of these womens actions. Once again the courts will side with Islam and the rights of the French are very likely to be overuled.

  • Comment number 85.

    If you go to a foreign country you abide by the laws and integrate with the way of life.

    If I went to aghan/iran/saudi arabia etc how long would I last if I large garment with a cross on?

    I think the west is far too tollerent and liberal when it comes to these matters.

    This is a step in the right direction. Well done france

  • Comment number 86.

    Legislating against religious items will not work all laws should be equal in wording as law will all ways affect some people more than others. because if it is not for all the EU sureme court will rule its against there human rights. just banned full face masks. but then what will this been for motor bike helmits and fire protection full face masks that f1 drivers wear then it comes back to religion as thats is the only reason which is wrong.

  • Comment number 87.

    It is interesting to read the comments posted here by some who are opposed on religious grounds to the line taken by the French. Their views should be read in the context of the reported news that a leading Egyptian cleric, Mohammed Seyyed Tantawi, has banned face veils in the girls' classrooms and dormitories of al-Azhar University in Cairo. Tantawi said that the face veil "has nothing to do with Islam" and that his decision to impose a ban is aimed at "spreading trust, harmony ... and the correct understanding of religion among girls."
    The majority of scholars say that the trend of wearing the veil is merely a custom that dates back to tribal, nomadic societies living in the Arabian desert before Islam and has nothing to do with religion.

  • Comment number 88.

    I think the real issue here is the growing rise of a more militant Islam and not just in France but all over Europe.

    Frankly I have no problem with the French banning the burka and i fail to see why any Muslim would have an issue with the burka being banned either. I mean, they all moved to France for a better life and to live as the French do, did they not?

    Why else move there!

  • Comment number 89.

    I like to be able to see people's faces when I am talking to them, as it helps me judge a person's character, so I am personally against anything which prevents me from doing so.

    Whether the state should be telling it's citizens what they can and can't wear is another matter entirely.

    As I believe that the state already interferes far too much in our lives, I lean towards allowing people to wear whatever they want, within decency laws, even though this goes against my own personal preference for seeing people's faces.

    Like many others, I believe that the covering of women's faces by the more extreme elements of Islam is repressive and demeaning. If seeing someone's faces is so inflammatory, then Muslim men should have to cover their faces as well.

    So should the state interfere in people's lives to stop women being treated less well than men? Well, that would open up a can of worms. Only Jewish men can apply for a divorce (a "get"), under Jewish religious law, for example. So if the state steps in to stop one religious practice that it deems to be discriminatory, then it should do the same in all other religions. I can't see too many western countries being prepared to do that, so they should stay out of all religions, rather than just picking on one. Legislate against all discriminatory practices, or none.

    On balance, I prefer the state to keep out of people's religious practices, proving that no existing laws are broken. It is not the government's job to "westernise" it's citizens. It is not government's job to determine the clothes that it's citizens are permitted to wear, beyond ensuring public decency.

    You'd think that governments might have more important things to worry about, what with a global financial crisis which may not yet be over and conflicts all over the world which need attention.

  • Comment number 90.

    I don't believe the state should legislate about the clothes people are allowed to wear.

    I think France is right to have the law that will prosecute men that make women wear a veil/niqab/burka.

    But individual (non state) premises (shop, offices, etc etc) should have the right to refuse entry to people wearing what they dislike (burka, pyjamas, viking helmets etc)

  • Comment number 91.

    Yes, ban them. If a woman wants wear a full veil or a Burka there are plenty of countries she can go to and enjoy her fashion choice.

  • Comment number 92.

    A decision for France.
    I can fully understand why France is considering it though and I can see the merits of a ban on all headwear that covers the face in public .... which is what France is proposing, which includes motorcycle helmets etc...
    The proposed law does not specify that its to ban headwear worn by some Islamic women.
    I take my headwear off, when I go into shops etc, for security purposes.

  • Comment number 93.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 94.

    I do agree with th French and Belgians on this issue. The wearing of these items is nothing to do with religion.
    However, from a personal perspective I find them threatening, and also rude. I am deaf and rely on seeing peoples faces to gauge reaction and read lips, this method of dress prevents that and as such if I were in such a position, I would have to rude as well and aske for someone to translate, or if in a shop or similar environment, ask for someone else to assist.

  • Comment number 95.

    I support the ban. Completely covering one's face when in public is disrespectful and rude. It makes interacting with the person whose face is covered much more difficult, and personally I think it creates division and distance. What we choose to do in the privacy of our own homes is one thing, but in public we have to behave in accordance with the rules and customs of the society we are living in. Put it this way; naturism might be an important personal choice, but you wouldn't want people walking around naked in public places, would you?!

    France is not a Muslim country (in fact, it is a secular one), and therefore if the French government feel that they need to ban the wearing of the full veil in public (which is, allegedly, a personal choice and not a religious requirement), they have every right to do so.

  • Comment number 96.

    rocktapper wrote:
    France along with other European nations are pandering to the right wing and racist/islamophobic parts of their society. These same nations which less than 50 years ago were colonial masters in many islamic nations during which time they did a thing about integrating into these nations! The way forward is for the Muslim world to hit back and sanction those nations which openly attack Islamic sentiment either through trade embargoes... Sadly the lackeys in charge of almost all Muslim nations would never lift a finger to protect Muslims in European nations.

    Do you actually think that? Lets take this apart, If I go to Saudi Arabia I have to adhere to their dress code. If the French people democratically make a decision about face veils then that is just the way it is. And why bring race and "right wing" into it? many on the left support these measures, so I think you are blinkered yourself. A I said before, if someone wishes to wear the veil.....go to a country that accepts it and be happy, or accept the law of the land you live in. What a rubbish statement you made!

  • Comment number 97.

    I do support this ban with all my heart. First of all, Quran does not command veil. Moreover, there is nothing written about full black veils in Quran. Those who support this idea of confining women under darkness by covering their faces must show the evidence through Quranic verses. This has nothing to do with religion. This is an import of Iranian regime and It is a political ideology. This must be understood by Western people. Secondly, it poses a security threat.It is a perfect cover for any criminals. Thirdly, I am opposing the idea of fining these women. Instead, men should be fined (assuming that these women are not employed due to pressure by husbands etc). For those who are curious I am a Turk, not French.

  • Comment number 98.

    Yes, ban this nonsense in all western countries.

  • Comment number 99.

    It is simply dangerous to wear this garment whilst driving since their peripheral vision must be impaired. It is also very intimidating when worn in the street.

  • Comment number 100.

    Yes they have the right to ban it, of course they do, the last time i checked France was not under Islamic rule nor was it an arab state !

    if anything its so stupid to think this is acceptable in 2010, i would not allow a person wearing this to enter my business, security risks aside it must be degrading for the individual. I respect other countries customs when i am abroad they now need to respect france's when living ther, i hope th UK brings in a ban soon.


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