A Closer Look at France's Burqa Ban

Thursday, April 07, 2011

A woman wearing a burqa and her male companion in Paris, France in July 2010. (Max Bernstein)

In just a few days, a new law goes into effect in France, banning any veils that cover the face. Effectively a "burqa ban," the law was passed last fall by the French senate with a vote of 246 to 1. But it’s not just the French senate that’s in favor of the ban. The Pew Global Attitudes Project found in a survey last year that only one in four French people are opposed to the ban.

Nihal Zeidy is a Muslim French citizen who’s been living in the U.S. for the past 13 years. Her mother and other Muslim family members still live in France. She is opposed to the ban.



Nihal Zeidy

Produced by:

Kristen Meinzer

Comments [3]

Jihan Jamal-Baraka from Miami, FL, USA

I am grateful to live in a country that affords me the choice to wear or not wear the hegab (hijab; Muslim women's head scarf). I feel that the French are imposing this "law" to impose their prejudices, and to impose the goverments' ability to impose such a choice; I do not view this as "liberating" Muslim women. Myself, and most Muslim women I know have made a conscious choice in wearing the hegab or not, and many don't wear the hegab because they don't want to be "tagged" by those who dislike Muslims, preventing annimosity. Many Islamic men in this country don't want their spouses wearing the hegab, for the same reason - protecting their spouses from Islamophobic attitudes. I feel it is insulting to pass this law.

The burqa is not an Islamic tradition, but a cultural one. The Qu'ran specifies that a woman should be modest in ther dress and to cover their hair, but it doesn't call for a woman to cover her face (but Wahabism may interpret modest cover to call for the covering of the face, which is imposed in Saudi Arabia). The burqa is not mentioned in the Qu'ran as an "official" or imposed religious attire, but it is also a choice, and in a democratic society, this should also be a choice.

If this is to be a law, how about expecting a Sikh not to wear the religious and traditional turban; a Jewish man not to wear a Yamaka; a Rastafarian not to cover theiir dreadlocks? A Catholic nun not to cover their hair ... where does it stop?

Jihan Jamal-Baraka.

Apr. 07 2011 10:25 AM

We will never ban hats and scarves to protect from weather. What's the difference between wearing these head protective items and a moslem head scarf?

If I went to a country where all women wear birkas - I'd wear one too.

"When in "France" do what the Frenchwomen do"

Apr. 07 2011 07:57 AM
dr. meryem bencheikh from Free Brooklyn

Bonjour, good morning,

I lived in France for 12 years, was offered the French citizenship, but still preferred the position offered to me by Columbia University. Why?
Because here in the States I finally was going to be free to be Who I am. A young muslim doctor, who would not be afraid to show that she is fasting Ramadan or praying 5 times a day.
America is where Freedom is.
Free to be who you are from wherever you are.
Since then, watching the jewish women wearing their wigs, I finally had the courage to wear the Hijab.
Many of my friends, from all over the world, muslims friends, do wear the full nikab, ie, are covered from head to toe. Some drive, other don't....some homes-chool their kids, other send them to PS or muslim schools....
Freedom.......here we are free to be like everybody else....free.
Thank you for this segment. Call me for more anecdotes.
Dr. Myriam Bencheikh
in Free Brooklyn (Midwood)

Apr. 07 2011 07:27 AM

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