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Old 04-11-2011, 09:28 AM   #31
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French burka ban: police arrest two veiled women - Telegraph

By Peter Allen, in Paris 11:03AM BST 11 Apr 2011

The women were arrested along with several other people protesting in front of Notre Dame cathedral in Paris against the new law.

Jourrnalists at the scene said the arrests came after police moved in to break up the protest which had not been authorised.

On Saturday police arrested 59 people, including 19 veiled women, who turned up for a banned protest in Paris against the draconian new law, the first of its kind to be enforced in Europe.

Earlier, French police said they will be enforcing the country’s new burka ban "extremely cautiously" because of fears of provoking violence.

They fear Muslims extremists will use the law to provoke fights with officers, while rich visitors from countries like Saudi Arabia will also cause trouble .

All garments which cover the face were officially banned from first thing this morning, with offenders facing fines of 150 euros (£133).

But police admitted that they feared being accused of discrimination against Muslims, whether approaching women in tinderbox housing projects or on the Champs Elysee.

"The law will be very difficult to apply on certain estates," said Patrice Ribeiro, of the Synergie police union.

Referring to two Paris suburbs where riots regularly break out because of alleged discrimination against Muslims, Mr Ribeiro said: "I can’t see police going to book dozens of veiled women doing their shopping in Venissieux or in Trappes.

"It will be the same when a police officer is about to arrest a veiled Saudi who is about to go into Louis Vuitton on the Champs Elysees. In all cases, the forces of order will have to be measured and cautious in their behaviour."

Synergie has already instructed its members to view the ban as a "low priority", and Mr Ribeiro said there would "inevitably be incidents".

Mohamed Douhane, another Paris police officer and Synergie member, said he and his colleagues also "expected provocation by a minority."

Mr Douhane added: "Fundamentalist movements are eager to raise the stakes. The police know they will be held responsible for any public order disturbances."

Police have already been warned not to arrest women "in or around" mosques, and "citizen’s de-veilings" are also banned.

The strict instructions, from Interior Minister Claude Guent, are contained in a nine page circular issued to officers.

With tensions running high within the country’s six million strong Muslim community, officers have been told to look out for members of the public taking the law into their own hands.

Instead they will have to call the police, who will in turn have four hours to consider whether an offender should be fined.

This will apply to all garments which cover the eyes, although scarfs, hats, and sunglasses are excluded.

As well as a mosque, Muslims will also be able to put on a veil in the privacy of their own homes, a hotel room, or even a car, as long as they are not driving.

Police have already complained that they will have to waste time on "burka-chasing", with Denis Jacob, of the Alliance police union, adding: "We have more important matters to be dealing with."

The ban means France is officially the second country in Europe, after Belgium, to introduce a full ban on a garment which immigration minister Eric Besson has called a "walking coffin".

While French women face the fines and ‘civic duty’ guidance if they break the law, men who force their wives or daughters to wear burkas will face up to a year in prison, and fines of up to 25,000 pounds.

Posters have already gone up in town halls across France reading: "The Republic lives with its face uncovered."

Belgium introduced a full ban last year, although it has not been enforced with any vigour. A ban also looks likely in Holland, Spain and Switzerland.

There are no plans to introduce a similar ban in Britain, although politicians from the UK Independence Party and some Tory backbenchers have suggested one.
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Old 04-11-2011, 09:39 AM   #32
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i love this protest video:



Just when you thought the niqab ban story had no more legs, it goes burlesque. Two French women have taken it upon themselves to register their opposition to the niqab ban in France by covering their faces but baring their legs in miniskirts. The duo, who call themselves NiqaBitch, have posted a video where they stop traffic and turn heads and sashay in heels down the streets of Paris. Portmanteau in name and in dress, they merge the sacred and the profane. The footage is tongue in cheek, all rather typically French. "We were not looking to attack or degrade the image of Muslim fundamentalists – each to their own – but rather to question politicians who voted for this law that we consider clearly unconstitutional," they said. "To dictate what we wear appears to have become the role of the state."

Somehow, the trite juxtaposition isn't as lowbrow as one would think. Like a good advertisement, it makes a clear, simple, powerful point. Bypassing all the ambiguity of the debate, it goes straight to the viscera, eliciting a range of responses. Some have observed that the public's reaction is less unfriendly than usual because it's clear the two women are not wearing the burqa for religions reasons, which highlights the Islamophobic aspect of opposition to the niqab. At one point a policewoman asks for a picture. Once the law comes into effect, she will be obliged to fine them. It proves that covering up per se is not the point. It's what it entails, and what value judgements we then make based on that – a tenuous position indeed from which to legislate against any form of dress.

In discussions about the niqab, this opposition's argument of last resort is that public nudity is the polar opposite of full coverage and hence the same laws should apply. The video subverts that argument by rendering exposed and covered flesh two sides of the same coin but as manifestations of personal freedom of dress. Is it mocking the niqab? As the campaign is in protest against the niqab ban, I think not. But even if it were, so what? What I like about the video is its iconoclasm. Both the religious and secular could do with being less precious and heavy-handed about what women would like to wear.

However, it is not a novel idea. Personally, I think it is reminiscent of a sinister orientalist fetishising, one that hides an exotic woman's face but lays bare her body as a faceless sexual object, mystified by lack of character but simultaneously made accessible. But that is just my own visceral reaction. Ultimately, it is about choice.

Another display has also been hitting the headlines. "Princess Hijab", a 20-year-old guerrilla artist, traverses Paris incognito spray-painting hijabs and niqabs on male and female models on posters and billboards. She claims it is not a political point she is trying to make, rather an examination of contradictions inherent in mainstream culture.

But is it art? What impact do these kinds of demonstration make? Perhaps none at all in the immediate term, but what is encouraging is that the concept of the niqab is being decoupled from religion and incorporated into popular culture, examined and discussed in terms of freedom of choice, artistic expression, and redefinitions of sexuality and personal space. All in inimitable, indigenous French avant-garde fashion. It is a hallmark of integration and a repudiation of the state's transgression into the realm of personal freedom.
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Old 04-11-2011, 09:54 AM   #33
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it's not just the burqa either, in schools here in France, children are not allowed to wear any overt religious symbols/accessories, crucifixes etc...

the reasoning is that France is meant to be a secular society so they want to preserve that approach in the state schools... most of the French people i know think it's a good thing as many see religion as a private matter, but, coming from England, i find it pretty oppressive... comes over a bit like "liberty, equality, fraternity for all, as long as you do it our way"!

i don't know, it would be nice if people were free to just be themselves and live alongside each other peacefully... mutual respect for customs and faiths... that kind of thing...



Quote:
Originally Posted by MrsSpringsteen View Post
French burka ban: police arrest two veiled women - Telegraph

By Peter Allen, in Paris 11:03AM BST 11 Apr 2011

The women were arrested along with several other people protesting in front of Notre Dame cathedral in Paris against the new law.

Jourrnalists at the scene said the arrests came after police moved in to break up the protest which had not been authorised.

On Saturday police arrested 59 people, including 19 veiled women, who turned up for a banned protest in Paris against the draconian new law, the first of its kind to be enforced in Europe.

Earlier, French police said they will be enforcing the country’s new burka ban "extremely cautiously" because of fears of provoking violence.

They fear Muslims extremists will use the law to provoke fights with officers, while rich visitors from countries like Saudi Arabia will also cause trouble .

All garments which cover the face were officially banned from first thing this morning, with offenders facing fines of 150 euros (£133).

But police admitted that they feared being accused of discrimination against Muslims, whether approaching women in tinderbox housing projects or on the Champs Elysee.

"The law will be very difficult to apply on certain estates," said Patrice Ribeiro, of the Synergie police union.

Referring to two Paris suburbs where riots regularly break out because of alleged discrimination against Muslims, Mr Ribeiro said: "I can’t see police going to book dozens of veiled women doing their shopping in Venissieux or in Trappes.

"It will be the same when a police officer is about to arrest a veiled Saudi who is about to go into Louis Vuitton on the Champs Elysees. In all cases, the forces of order will have to be measured and cautious in their behaviour."

Synergie has already instructed its members to view the ban as a "low priority", and Mr Ribeiro said there would "inevitably be incidents".

Mohamed Douhane, another Paris police officer and Synergie member, said he and his colleagues also "expected provocation by a minority."

Mr Douhane added: "Fundamentalist movements are eager to raise the stakes. The police know they will be held responsible for any public order disturbances."

Police have already been warned not to arrest women "in or around" mosques, and "citizen’s de-veilings" are also banned.

The strict instructions, from Interior Minister Claude Guent, are contained in a nine page circular issued to officers.

With tensions running high within the country’s six million strong Muslim community, officers have been told to look out for members of the public taking the law into their own hands.

Instead they will have to call the police, who will in turn have four hours to consider whether an offender should be fined.

This will apply to all garments which cover the eyes, although scarfs, hats, and sunglasses are excluded.

As well as a mosque, Muslims will also be able to put on a veil in the privacy of their own homes, a hotel room, or even a car, as long as they are not driving.

Police have already complained that they will have to waste time on "burka-chasing", with Denis Jacob, of the Alliance police union, adding: "We have more important matters to be dealing with."

The ban means France is officially the second country in Europe, after Belgium, to introduce a full ban on a garment which immigration minister Eric Besson has called a "walking coffin".

While French women face the fines and ‘civic duty’ guidance if they break the law, men who force their wives or daughters to wear burkas will face up to a year in prison, and fines of up to 25,000 pounds.

Posters have already gone up in town halls across France reading: "The Republic lives with its face uncovered."

Belgium introduced a full ban last year, although it has not been enforced with any vigour. A ban also looks likely in Holland, Spain and Switzerland.

There are no plans to introduce a similar ban in Britain, although politicians from the UK Independence Party and some Tory backbenchers have suggested one.
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Old 04-11-2011, 09:59 AM   #34
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this was also shocking, from last year...

Paris court hands woman suspended sentence for veil attack | World news | The Guardian

A Paris court today gave a retired French teacher a one-month suspended sentence for attacking a Middle Eastern woman who was wearing a face-covering Muslim veil.

The court also ordered Jeanne Ruby to pay €800 (£698) in damages to the victim, a citizen of the United Arab Emirates.

Ruby had been charged with aggravated violence, and the prosecutor had asked that she be given a two-month suspended sentence.

The incident – in which Ruby bit, slapped and scratched her victim – happened in a shop in the French capital in February.

In a recent interview with Le Parisien newspaper, Ruby compared the niqab to a "muzzle" and said she did not mean to harm the woman and had wanted to pull the veil off.
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Old 04-11-2011, 10:09 AM   #35
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Quote:
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How can you tell if a girl is fit or not if her face is covered?
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Old 04-12-2011, 02:06 AM   #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mama cass View Post
i love this protest video:

...At one point a policewoman asks for a picture. Once the law comes into effect, she will be obliged to fine them. It proves that covering up per se is not the point. It's what it entails, and what value judgements we then make based on that – a tenuous position indeed from which to legislate against any form of dress.
Haha, yeah that's really interesting! I can though somewhat see the author's point about their getup simultaneously reading as troublesomely 'orientalist'--it reads like political theater once you know that's what it is, but if I was just walking down the street unprepared and stumbled across them, I think I'd more likely assume this was someone's rather highly offensive notion of camp.
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Old 04-14-2011, 06:05 AM   #37
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An illiberal law to persecute an illiberal faith. My secular principles dissagree with this law but I don't support the burqa.
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Old 04-15-2011, 11:26 AM   #38
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My secular principles dissagree with this law but I don't support the burqa.

agreed. i find the hijab rather beautiful, actually, but find burqas unnerving, both visually and the connotations of repression and women-as-property. there's a sizable and growing Muslim population in NoVA and i pass women in burqas all the time at the gigantic mall out here. one could say, of course, that short-shorts and tube tops on an 11 year old is just as unnerving, and so for the sake of consistency and logic, i must support everyone's right to wear what they choose.
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Old 09-21-2011, 01:38 PM   #39
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Guardian, Sept. 19
Quote:
In April, France introduced a law against covering your face in public. Muslim women in full-face veils, or niqab, are now banned from any public activity including walking down the street, taking a bus, going to the shops or collecting their children from school. French politicians in favour of the ban said they were acting to protect the "gender equality" and "dignity" of women. But five months after the law was introduced, the result is a mixture of confusion and apathy. Muslim groups report a worrying increase in discrimination and verbal and physical violence against women in veils. There have been instances of people in the street taking the law into their hands and trying to rip off full-face veils, of bus drivers refusing to carry women in niqab or of shop-owners trying to bar entry. A few women have taken to wearing bird-flu-style medical masks to keep their face covered; some describe a climate of divisiveness, mistrust and fear. One politician who backed the law said that women still going out in niqab were simply being "provocative".
Quote:
Ahmas, 32, French, a divorced single mother of a three-year-old daughter, puts her handbag on the table and takes out a pepper spray and attack alarm. She doesn't live on the high-rise estates but on a quiet street of semi-detached houses. The last time she was attacked in the street a man and woman punched her in front of her daughter, called her a whore and told her to go back to Afghanistan. "My quality of life has seriously deteriorated since the ban. In my head, I have to prepare for war every time I step outside, prepare to come up against people who want to put a bullet in my head. The politicians claimed they were liberating us; what they've done is to exclude us from the social sphere. Before this law, I never asked myself whether I'd be able to make it to a cafe or collect documents from a town hall. One politician in favour of the ban said niqabs were 'walking prisons'. Well, that's exactly where we've been stuck by this law."

But despite all the fanfare surrounding the niqab ban, no woman has yet been punished under the law for wearing one.
The first real test will come on Thursday, when a local judge in Meaux, east of Paris, will decide whether to hand out to Ahmas and a friend the first ever fine. They were stopped outside Meaux town hall on 5 May wearing niqabs and carrying an almond cake to celebrate the birthday of the local mayor Jean-François Copé, who is also head of Nicolas Sarkozy's rightwing UMP party and an architect of the ban. The cake was a joke, a play on the French word for fine, amende. They wanted to highlight the absurdity of a law that they say has increased a mood of anti-Muslim discrimination and driven a wedge through French society, yet seems not to have been taken seriously by the justice system. Sarkozy was accused of stigmatising women in niqab to win votes from the extreme right, yet the law didn't actually boost his poll ratings. Now, human rights lawyers are suggesting it could soon be overturned.
Quote:
Only the French police can confront a woman in niqab. They can't remove her veil but must refer the case to a local judge, who can hand out a ¤150 (£130) fine, a citizenship course, or both. Some police have wrongly given on-the-spot fines, which were later annulled. Others appear to ignore women in niqab walking down the street, perhaps because they feel they have more important crimes to be stopping. The interior ministry says that since the law came into force in April there have been 91 incidents of women in niqab being stopped by police outside Paris and nine incidents in the Paris region. Each time, police file a report, but so far no judge has handed out a fine or citizenship course. The French justice ministry says "fewer than 10" cases are currently going through the courts and the lack of fines shows the state favours "dialogue" not punishment. But Gilles Devers, a lawyer acting for Ahmas and several other women in niqab, argued punishments were not being handed out because the niqab law contravenes European human rights legislation on personal liberties and freedom of religion. As soon as a fine is imposed, there will be an appeal right up to the European court of human rights in Strasbourg, which could rule against the law and expose the French state as a laughing stock.

If the French law is challenged in this way, the result would be crucial for Muslims across the continent. Belgium introduced its own niqab ban this summer, punishable not just by a fine but seven days in prison. In Italy, the far-right Northern League has resuscitated a 1975 law against face coverings to fine women in certain areas of the north. Silvio Berlusconi's party is now preparing an anti-niqab law. Denmark is preparing legislation to limit the wearing of niqabs; politicians in Austria, the Netherlands and Switzerland are pushing for outright bans.
Thomas Hammarberg, the Council of Europe's commissioner for human rights, blogged this summer: "The way the dress of a small number of women has been portrayed as a key problem requiring urgent discussion and legislation is a sad capitulation to the prejudices of the xenophobes."
Quote:
Ahmas grew up in and around Paris, where her father, born in Morocco, worked as a town-hall gardener. Her parents were not strict Muslims. She put on the niqab six years ago as an educated single woman who once wore mini-skirts and liked partying, but then rediscovered her faith. She says her now ex-husband had nothing to do with her choice. (The new law punishes men who force women to wear the niqab with a ¤30,000 fine, but none has yet been imposed.) Like many women in niqab who refuse to stay indoors, she is desperate for work. For years, she worked in call centres as a specialist in telephone polling. Even before the ban, she knew it would be easier to get work without the niqab, so at the office she would always pull back her veil, leaving her face exposed for the day. "Life is hard and I have to work. If my daughter wants something--even a Barbie doll--and I can't pay for it, it breaks my heart." In January, at the height of the public debate on the niqab, Ahmas lost her job after her contract wasn't renewed. "I've contacted scores of employers looking for work. I always ask them if they accept the veil. They say, 'It depends what type. If it's tunic and trousers and a headscarf, that's OK, but a long robe is not.'" This is clear discrimination: "Totally illegal," she sighs.
Quote:
Stephanie, who prefers not to give her surname, was summoned by the local state prosecutor. She arrived at court and agreed to lift her veil so security guards could check her identity, but they refused to allow her access until an exasperated prosecutor buzzed her in himself. The prosecutor, whom she described as "very human", wanted to better understand why she wore the niqab. She converted at 17 and put on the niqab several years later, long before meeting her husband. Her North African parents-in-law didn't like her wearing full-veil, and the marriage ended. Her own parents converted to Islam a few years later but don't believe a niqab is necessary. She told the prosecutor it was her choice and refused to stop wearing niqab. The prosecutor reminded her of the law and let her go with no sanction or punishment. He told the local paper, Nice Matin, that a woman in a veil was less dangerous than someone who had "double or triple parked".

Before the law, Stephanie would often be called names like "Batman, Zorro, or Ninja" in the street--often by pensioners. Now people favour swear words or sexual insults. She wants to work with children, but despite having a degree in theology, she can't find a job. The first time Stephanie was stopped by police was for standing on a central Nice shopping street in May. A police officer illegally gave her an on-the-spot fine, which was later overturned. This summer, a bus driver refused to let her onto a bus with her daughter. "If I have a meeting, I'll always leave the house at 6.30am instead of 8.30am in case a bus won't take me and I have to wait 45 minutes for another one." Recently, after she had bought a cinema ticket for the latest Harry Potter film with her daughter, staff tried to stop her entering the screening. Eventually the cinema decided not to call the police because they didn't want to feature in the local paper.
Quote:
The headquarters of the French Collective against Islamophobia is in a small ground-floor office on a cobbled street near Paris's Gare de L'Est. It doesn't promote the wearing of niqab but gives legal advice. "It's not the police I'm afraid of, it's the personal attacks on women by people acting on their own initiative in the street," says Samy Debah, the association's head. The group's legal adviser says there has been "an explosion" in the number of physical attacks on women wearing the niqab. Many women say that their attackers were middle-aged or old people. In one recent case a young French convert was assaulted at a zoo outside Paris while carrying her 13-month-old baby.

...There are no reliable statistics on who wears the niqab in France and whether they have kept wearing it since the law. It is estimated that only a few hundred women wear it, mostly French citizens. Muslim associations say a minority of women have taken off the niqab or moved abroad. Nekkaz says that more than 290 women still wearing niqab have contacted him: he says a large number were divorced with children, most were aged between 25 and 35, many were French of north African parentage, and many were living on income support. An Open Society Foundation report on women in niqabs in France in April found that of a sample of 32 women in niqab, none had been forced to wear the full veil. Many said they would refuse to take if off after the law came in, adding that they would avoid leaving home, or move abroad.

Kenza Drider, a 32-year-old mother of three, was famously bold enough to appear on French television to oppose the law before it came into force. She refuses to take off her niqab--"My husband doesn't dictate what I do, much less the government"--but she says she now lives in fear of attack. "I still go out in my car, on foot, to the shops, to collect my kids. I'm insulted about three to four times a day," she says. Most say, "Go home"; some say, "We'll kill you." One said: "We'll do to you what we did to the Jews."
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