The French Parliament adopted a non-binding formal resolution today against the burqa, a head-to-toe garment worn by some Muslim women. The Parliament will reportedly consider a law in July that will outlaw both the burqa and the niqab, a similar garment that has an opening for the eyes. According to the Telegraph UK, the resolution states, “radical practices which violate the dignity and equality between men and women, such as the wearing of the full veil, are contrary to the values of the republic.”
In April, French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced plans to move forward to legislate a ban on the wearing of the burqa in public despite warnings from France’s State Council that such a law may be unconstitutional. His cabinet is scheduled to meet next week to consider a draft of the bill. According to ABC News, if the French ban is enacted, violations could lead to a 15 to 25 Euro fine ($22-$36) and jail time up to one week. The ban would apply to all women in public places, such as markets and public buildings, including tourists.
President Nicolas Sarkozy announced his opposition to the burqa, the head-to-toe garment worn by some Islamic women, in a speech to a joint session of the French Parliament in June 2009. In this speech, he said “The burqa is not welcome in French territory…In our country, we cannot accept that women be prisoners behind a screen, cut off from all social life, deprived of all identity,” reported the Wall Street Journal. This speech, the first presidential address to the legislature in over a century, urged the Parliament to examine the practice of Muslim women in France wearing the burqa. In 2004 the French Parliament passed a law banning students from wearing veils and other religious symbols in public schools.
It is estimated that only about 1,900 women in France wear full veils. According to Reuters, there are some 5 million Muslims in France.