France's Burqa Ban, One Year Later

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

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

One year ago, France implemented the "burqa ban," a restriction on Muslim women covering their faces in the burqa or niqab. Advocates for the ban argued it would free women of gender enslavement and help Muslims better integrate into French society. The ban received widespread support in France and even some Muslim organizations supported the legislation.

Takeaway producer Arwa Gunja traveled to Paris as a reporting fellow with the International Center for Journalists to examine the impact of the law over the last year. She met with Lila Citar, who wears the niqab and started the online organization "Amazones de la Liberte," a support and advocacy network for those who continue to wear the niqab. According to Citar, all women in her organization chose to wear the Muslim garb — they are not forced to do so. Citar also explains that many of these women fear leaving their homes because they may be subject to fines by the police or harassment on the streets.


Arwa Gunja

Comments [6]


I think the woman in the photo exaggerates! she is an exhibitionist! a classic hijab was much better! if I was her boyfriend I would have encouraged in this way!

Jan. 30 2014 08:41 AM

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Mar. 07 2013 02:38 AM
Ammar Sumayya

The elite women living luxurious lifestyles understandably find the lifestyle of devout Muslim women uncomfortable, so the point of view of an elite minority is not representative of hundreds of thousands of devout sisters across the globe, many of them modern educated, who choose to wear the symbol of Muslim chastity.

'...our young are taught that a woman's position in society is inferior. '
This is a simplistic inference of a lady who is not aware of exegetical texts, and the error is self-evident to female students of sacred scholarship who don't have an opportunity to speak fluent English the way rich women like princesses have. So, in such a society where there is inequality of educational opportunity which is not discrimatory to traditional lifestyle, modernist women are the only policewomen monopolizing and manipulating the debate, by blindly imitating the western discourse without any creativity and original critical thinking. The woman's position in society which glorifies mothers, sisters, wives and duaghters as the keys to salvation and attainment of eternal bliss in Paradise, is self-evident to intellectually honest observers both inside and outside Muslim civilization.

'Her role is strictly limited to serving her family and raising children.' The glorification of Mother of Believers Aisha,may God be pleased with Her, as a female warrior and as a female scholar of sacred scholarship is just an instance of extra-domestic involvement of Muslim feminine ideal. So, rather than referring to the role as 'strictly limited' should be described as glorifyingly encouraged by the intellectually honest, because family is where lies the moral strength of Muslim civilization and the secret of cultural and intellectual triumph of traditional Muslim cultures lied precisely in the role of Muslim mothers as the moral builders of Muslim civilization.

'They are actually taught that if a woman has to worship anyone other than God it should be her husband' And, which she does not have to, because that would be idolatry. That's why there is scholarly encouragement for Muslim women disobeying the husbands trying to force their belief system on their wives. The example of Pharaoh's Monotheist Muslim wife-Asia:May God be pleased with Her, is the inspirational subject of sacred Muslim scholarship.

'"that the angels will curse her if she is not submissive to her husband's needs" Does a cheating Muslim wife really care about angels cursing her anyway? And, in case of an oppressive husband she has the right of divorce as known as khula. No relationship can sustain without mutual responsibilities.

May. 08 2012 05:40 AM
nancie g from Boston, Ma

I think it is important to remember that religious dress has been encouraged to change over the years. For example, it was not until late in 1800's by
the rule of the Polish leader that insisted that both religious Jewish
and Catholic woman not wear wigs or cover their heads in public. This had
been the custom for thousand of years.(married women) It took a while for this custom to change. Today we don't even give it a thought.
The same was true when women first wore skirts with an ankle exposed. It was considered totally immodest but then became the norm. Now even religious orders of nuns don't wear traditional habits as they are too cumbersome.

Apr. 11 2012 07:13 PM

I'm surprised at the take of The Takeway. "Religion" is also used to justify clitoral mutilation. There, as well, some women claim to want to inflict on their daughters the same practice as was done to them. But both the burka and clitoral mutilation are deeply disturbing.

This is a human rights issue as well as a threat, as indicated in the previous comment. Westerners must use their own good sense to stop these practices in our societies. The 2000 or so burka-clad women and their husbands in France must adapt. For them, it is a matter of education. See what Saudi Arabian Princess Basma Bint Saud Bin Abdulaziz says from the security of her home in London:

"...our young are taught that a woman's position in society is inferior. Her role is strictly limited to serving her family and raising children. They are actually taught that if a woman has to worship anyone other than God it should be her husband; "that the angels will curse her if she is not submissive to her husband's needs"..."Our religion should not be a shield behind which we hide from the world but a driving force that inspires us to innovate and contribute to our surroundings...” -

Apr. 11 2012 11:58 AM
Cynthia Crane from New York

I find it odd that you never mentioned the dangers under a burqua. How does one even know if it's a man or a woman or if they are girdled with suicide packs? Aside from what it says about women and their rights, the burquas are terrifying.

Apr. 11 2012 09:04 AM

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