Muslims living in France were profoundly shocked that a ban on the wearing of the burka, introduced in 2010 by the French government, was upheld by the European Court of Human Rights. The attempt by a British legal team to reverse France’s burka ban was rejected.
The Daily Mail reports that this test case will have widespread implications, as the judges said that the measure aimed at stopping women covering their faces in public was entirely justified. The right of ordinary people to “live together” was a “legitimate objective,” which was threatened if Muslim women would be allowed to fully cover their faces. Islamic groups have been protesting that the ban is discriminatory.
British lawyers, acting on behalf of an anonymous 24-year-old university graduate, told the court in Strasbourg that the ban was “degrading” and a “breach of religious freedom.”
Lawyer Tony Muman told the court that the plaintiff is a “perfect French citizen with a university education. She speaks of her country with passion. She is a patriot.”
The plaintiff, in a written statement, claimed that being forced to take off her veil in public constituted “degrading treatment.”
The law states that women who wear full-face veils in public can be fined around $200. Attempts to enforce the ban have set off disturbances, leading to arrests and convictions. Last year there was a riot in the Paris suburb of Trappes.
France has the biggest Muslim population in western Europe, and many Muslims believe that French society is biased against them.
The results of the elections for representatives to sit in the European Parliament supported that belief when the far-right National Front, a party which has numerous policies aimed at stopping the spread of Islamic culture, made huge gains.
Other EEC countries, including Belgium and Switzerland, have introduced similar bans, and the question is also being considered by Holland and Italy.
Britain is lagging behind because “political correctness” is more deeply embedded in the British psyche, and politicians, in particular, are obsessed with not upsetting potential voters. However, the surge in support for UKIP, a new right wing force, is causing MPs to think again.
There is no doubt that the European Court’s ruling will increase calls for the burka ban to be adopted by other countries.