mardi 1 juillet 2014

European rights court upholds French full veil ban

The European Court of Human Rights ruled on Tuesday, that France’s law banning women from wearing face-covering veils in public is not discriminatory.

The court’s decision follows a case brought by a 24-year-old French woman of Pakistani origin, who argued
that the ban on wearing the veil in public violated her freedom of religion and expression. The woman, identified only by her initials SAS, said that being forced to take off her veil in public constituted "degrading treatment" and also was an attack on her private and family life.

The court ruled that the ban "was not expressly based on the religious connotation of the clothing in question but solely on the fact that it concealed the face".

French law says nobody can wear in a public space clothing intended to conceal the face. The penalty for doing so can be a 150-euro fine (£120; $205). Overt religious symbols – headscarves, crucifixes, Jewish skullcaps and Sikh turbans, for example – are banned from French state schools, which operate on strictly secular lines.

The 2010 law came in under former conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy. Many Muslims view France, which is officially a secular republic despite being overwhelmingly Catholic, as imposing its values on them and other religious minorities.

France has one of the biggest Muslim populations in Europe. Beyond the veil issue, there has been controversy in the past over whether schools and holiday camps should be required to provide halal food to Muslim children.


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