The European Court of Human Rights has upheld a ban by France on wearing the Muslim full-face veil – the niqab.
The French law that everybody must show their face in public or face a 150 euro fine came into effect under former conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy, who declared that religious face veils were “not welcome” within France and vowed to uphold France’s secular values.
Three year later, while Sarkozy was off dealing with his own problems/corruption allegations, the debate over face veils came back into the limelight when a 24-year-old French woman, who argued that the ban on wearing the veil in public violated her freedom of religion and expression, brought her case to court.
Unfortunately (for her and the other estimated 2,000 women in France who wear the full veils), the European Court of Human Rights agreed with France’s “fit in or f*ck off” policy and upheld the ban, arguing that the ban was not an anti-Muslim religious issue, but a face concealing issue.
“While the court was aware that the disputed ban mainly affected certain Muslim women, it nevertheless noted that there was no restriction on the freedom to wear in public any item of clothing which did not have the effect of concealing the face and that the ban was not expressly based on the religious connotation of the clothing in question but solely on the fact that it concealed the face,” the court said in a statement.
A court statement also said the ruling “took into account the state’s submission that the face played a significant role in social interaction”.
But there are still some ways to get around the ban. Exemptions from the ban on public face concealment include motorcycle helmets, sports related face covering, carnival masks, and face masks for health reasons. Face masks for health reasons? Like covering the facial deformities of burn victims? I hope the pro-veilers don’t resort to this…
In related news, acid sales in France have risen 400% this week…