- May 8, 2008
- Type me.
A French parliamentary committee has recommended a partial ban on women wearing Islamic face veils.
The committee's near 200-page report has proposed a ban in hospitals, schools, government offices and on public transport.
It also recommends that anyone showing visible signs of "radical religious practice" should be refused residence cards and citizenship.
In its report, the committee said requiring women to cover their faces was against the French republican principles of secularism and equality.
"The wearing of the full veil is a challenge to our republic. This is unacceptable. We must condemn this excess," the report said.
The commission called on parliament to adopt a formal resolution stating that the face veil was "contrary to the values of the republic" and proclaiming that "all of France is saying 'no' to the full veil".
Presenting the report to the French National Assembly, speaker Bernard Accoyer said the face veil had too many negative connotations.
"It is the symbol of the repression of women, and... of extremist fundamentalism.
"This divisive approach is a denial of the equality between men and women and a rejection of co-existence side-by-side, without which our republic is nothing."
The report is expected to be followed by the drafting of a bill and a parliamentary debate on the issue.
Some other European countries have taken the "security" approach, banning veils only for their attributes, and not in relation to religion. That would have some good secular precedent: some U.S. states ban the wearing of masks and hoods, with exceptions for athletes, those in hazardous working conditions, those with Mardi Gras permits, etc. But the French government undermined that justification when it banned headscarves in schools as "religious symbols." Now the parliamentary committee goes further down that path with its report, recommending broader restrictions on "radical religious practice."
They seem to have gotten the concept of secular government twisted around, thinking that it is meant to enforce secularism in the populace, rather than to refrain from meddling with religious freedoms.