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France Bans the Burka: Progressive or Offensive?

France Bans the Burka: Progressive or Offensive?

France might be pushing it with the laws of fashion. The government has officially banned burkas, and as you may imagine, it’s not going over well. Protests have already begun against the burka ban, which resulted in 59 arrests in Paris on Saturday, including 19 women who were wearing the veilsthough they were arrested for protesting in this instance, not for wearing burkas… yet. Breaking the actual law, which officially went into action today, means facing a fine of approximately $216 US dollars for offenders, but $140,000 US dollars for “men who force their wives or daughters to wear burkas,” along with a year in prison, according to the Telegraph.

French police are enforcing the new law “extremely cautiously” because of fears of provoking violence, the newspaper reports. With 6 million Muslims in the country and the presence of extremists, they have good reason. Although, outside of the threat of violence, the new law may just be bad for business.

Wealthy visitors from countries like Saudi Arabia most likely won’t take well to the arguably ethnocentric ban. Patrice Ribeiro, of the Synergie police union, told the Telegraph that the law will be difficult to execute, for instance, when, “a police officer is about to arrest a veiled Saudi who is about to go into Louis Vuitton on the Champs Elysees. In all cases, the forces of order will have to be measured and cautious in their behaviour.” So more cautious when offending someone with luxury tastes and the money to buy rather than, say, a poor Muslim?

There are limitations. Muslims will be allowed to wear burkas in Mosques, in their own homes, hotel rooms and cars (if they’re not the driver).

I feel torn on this issue because I do believe that burkas are an antiquated, oppressive practice that only women are subjected to, which I don’t think has a place in free societies. However, it also seems pompous of a country to force its beliefs about a religion and its practices on 6 million people. With that said, I do dig the part where men get fined more and go to jail for forcing their wives and daughters to wear the veils it should be a choice, not an edict.

Photo: Richard Burbridge, Vogue Italia

  • Christa

    OFFENSIVE! I’m not religious but I believe everyone should be able to practice as they want to!

  • Sahilda

    You are wrong. Women are not subjected to it. They choose to do it. Out of modesty, not out of fear.

  • Sameul D'souza

    No one in this world has a right to prevent anyone from following their faith. What wrong on the earth did french govt see in burkha that i went on to ban it.

  • mel

    If I visited a Muslim country I would show respect to their customs.. I would cover my hair with a scarf, wear long sleeves, and definitely wouldn’t immigrate there and then insist that I had the right to walk around in (ie:) shorts and a singlet. Immigrating to a primarily non-Muslim country and imposing a garment as EXTREME as the Burka on that population, is a complete double standard.
    I also must add that there is much about Islam that I really love, the music, the poetry, and especially Sufi Qawwalli ?In’shAllah?

  • julie

    i do agreee with mel.i respect what these people think and believe however i know here in australia many muslims who have immigrated,dont seem to assimilate and dont take in our culture and way of living. people feel afraid around muslims dressed from head to toe because we do not know who they are and how to take them. they hide so much of themselves we are unsure and hesitate whether to interact with these people or not. Because of practices such as the burka,they alienate themselves into a country where this is not a custom. im not going against it, but i mean how are these women meant to get vitamin D, important for growth and welbeing, when only their eyes are uncovered?

  • ash

    OFFENSIVE.. CLEARLY.. they are not oppressed!it is a form of modesty n protection!.. they say the muslim women are oppressed? so what do u call this? who are the oppressors now????.. wt happnd to freedom??? every country chants abou all the gd stuff they do.. n they aren’t lettin ppl live n dress the way they want to??? u CANNOT destroy Islam it will STAND ryt to the end.. coz the muslims will make it stand.. jus watch.. wt they do.. will come bak to them reel hard!!!!!!!!

  • Rosemarie

    When you visit a Muslim country you have to respect their laws or suffer severe punishment, whipping, stoning etc. A fine isn’t too harsh by comparison. Ah the Muslims and their double standards.


    White people live Africa and Asia not much like Arabs live in Europe. Arabs come to Europe does not apply to the right Continent of Europe is Caucasian race origination of Europeans.
    If Arabs do not like move back to your country where you from Law is Law Time do Every where in Europe take your Burka off. Europe is a Christian Continent .Arab women should be normal without cover whole body and faces. A woman should walk around in normal clothes On the heels and sexy clothes. Fashion come from French and Italian. I do not care what you think Arabs You must to apply the law of Europe.

  • Manuel Lukingan

    Wearing burkas is just as being loyal to ur belief. Belief that was formated when the world was flat. The truth is nobody was/will born clothed be the Earth be square. For reasons, suicide bombers or others with criminal intent can hide their faces in those burkas!

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