Press Esc to close

Protests in France over burqa ban

Last updated: 12 April, 2011
Paris, April 11, AFP 1:05 IST

Two women arrested for unauthorised agitation

The police in France, home to Europes biggest Muslim population, arrested two protesters wearing niqab veils on Monday after a ban on full-face coverings came into effect.

Brewing row: Kenza Drider, a niqab veiled woman from Avignon, who has become the media symbol of France’s tiny community of niqab wearers, is surrounded by mediapersons  during an unauthorised protest in Paris on Monday. AFPThe women, part of a demonstration that erupted in front of Notre Dame cathedral here, were detained for taking part in an unauthorised protest rather than for wearing their veils. But, in theory at least, French officials can now slap fines on Muslim women who refuse orders to expose their faces when in public.

“Today was not about arresting people because of wearing the veil. It was for not having respected the requirement to declare a demonstration,” said police spokesman Alexis Marsan.

Two women in niqabs, a woman wearing an Islamic headscarf that did not cover her face and a protest organiser were arrested, Marsan said.

Separately, businessman and activist Rachid Nekkaz said he and a woman friend of his wearing the niqab were arrested by the police in front of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s Elysee Palace.

“We wanted to be fined for wearing the niqab, but the police didn’t want to issue a fine,” said Nekkaz, who has promised to auction off a two-million-euro property to start a fund to pay off fines for veil-wearers.

One of those arrested in front of Notre Dame was 32-year-old Kenza Drider from the southern city of Avignon, who was due to appear on television and has become a symbol of France’s tiny community of niqab wearers.

“This law infringes my European rights, I cannot but defend them, that is to say my freedom to come and go and my religious freedom,” Drider told reporters as she boarded a train for Paris before the protest.

Many French police fear the law will be impossible to enforce, since they have not been empowered to use force to remove head coverings, and could face resistance in already tense immigrant districts.

“The law will be infinitely difficult to enforce, and will be infinitely rarely enforced,” said Manuel Roux, deputy head of a union representing local police chiefs.

“It’s not for the police to demonstrate zeal,” he said, predicting that when patrol officers meet veiled women, they will simply try to explain the law to them and to persuade them to remove their face covering. “If they refuse, that’s when things get really complicated. We have no power to force them,” he said. “I can’t begin to imagine we are going to pay any attention to a veiled woman in a sensitive area, where men are proud.”

The law came into effect at an already fraught moment in relations between the state and France’s Muslim minority, with Sarkozy accused of stigmatising Islam to win back votes from a resurgent far right.

Go to Top

Photo Gallery
A volunteer uses a water hose to fight a wildfire near houses on the outskirts of Obidos...

A volunteer uses a water hose to fight a wildfire near houses on the outskirts of Obidos...

Jammu and Kashmir Women Police personnel paying tribute to police martyrs during Police...

Jammu and Kashmir Women Police personnel paying tribute to police martyrs during Police...

Executive producer Angelina Jolie arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of 'The Breadwinner' on...

Executive producer Angelina Jolie arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of 'The Breadwinner' on...

People take photos as the Sarang Aerobatic team of Indian Air force perform formation flying...

People take photos as the Sarang Aerobatic team of Indian Air force perform formation flying...

Indian Air force pilot showing their skill at Bamhrauli air station as the Indian Air Force...

Indian Air force pilot showing their skill at Bamhrauli air station as the Indian Air Force...

Devotees offer prayers to Goddess Kali on the banks of river Ganga before immersion in Kolkata on...

Devotees offer prayers to Goddess Kali on the banks of river Ganga before immersion in Kolkata on...

Indian captain Virat Kohli during a practice session ahead of the India-New Zealand ODI in Mumbai...

Indian captain Virat Kohli during a practice session ahead of the India-New Zealand ODI in Mumbai...

Indian Air force paratroopers perform maneuvers at Bamhrauli Air station as the Indian Air Force...

Indian Air force paratroopers perform maneuvers at Bamhrauli Air station as the Indian Air Force...

Orphan girls put a tilak on boys forehead, during the Bhai Dooj festival, at an orphanage...

Orphan girls put a tilak on boys forehead, during the Bhai Dooj festival, at an orphanage...

Afternoon light fades behind the warmly lit royal crematorium and funeral complex for the late...

Afternoon light fades behind the warmly lit royal crematorium and funeral complex for the late...

Like us on Facebook

Copyright 2017, The Printers (Mysore) Private Ltd., 75, M.G Road, Post Box 5331, Bengaluru - 560001
Tel: +91 (80) 25880000 Fax No. +91 (80) 25880523
Powered by Yodasoft Technologies Pvt. Ltd.