This Tuesday July 1st, the European Court of Human Rights has made a decision on a case brought to the courts by a woman, known as S.A.S., claiming the French full veil ban, passed in 2010, infringed her freedom of thought, religion and expression. The court’s verdict is strong, rejecting her claims and backing the French State. The ban of the niqab and burqa protects France’s secular tradition and social cohesion. Sihem Habchi, a Muslim feminist campaigner reported on BBC News, “The ban is important, because we can not accept that women are excluded in the social sphere.” According to French thought, the practice of veiling a woman’s face is degrading and poses a potential security threat.
Concealing ones face with the veil in public robs others of the basic “respect for the minimum requirements of living together in society,” the court stated. A person’s face is one’s identity and is vital for social interaction with one another in a community. “The court was also able to understand the view that individuals might not wish to see, in places open to all, practices or attitudes which would fundamentally call into question the possibility of open interpersonal relationships which, by virtue of an established consensus, formed an indispensable element of community life within the society in question. The court was therefore able to accept that the barrier raised against others by a veil concealing the face was perceived by the respondent State as breaching the right of others to live in a space of socialization which made living together easier.”
A UK human rights pressure group named Liberty disagrees with the ruling, making such backwards statements such as, “If you suspect bruises under a burqa, why punish the victim, and if you disapprove of the wearer’s choices how does banishing her from public engagement promote liberal attitudes?” What a ridiculous statement! Firstly, the woman is not banished from public engagement – her face covering is. Secondly, when she steps out with a face veil – there’s not much social interaction to begin with. If a woman wants to wear the face veil, she can live in a country where it is the norm and not intrude on others way of life.
France is the first country to ban full face veils in public spaces. Belgium followed by initiating the ban in 2011 (which makes sense considering some now call it “Belgistan”). Similar bans are being considered in other European countries. America would be wise to pass a ban as well.
BBC News, Europe: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-28106900