April 11, 2011
Full Veil Niquab Ban in France _ Sarkozy's 'Veiled' Agenda?
"France's ban on full face veils, a first in Europe, went into force on Monday, making anyone wearing the Muslim niqab or burqa in public liable to a fine of 150 euros (133 pounds) or lessons in French citizenship."
France has a 5 million Muslim population of which less than 2000 wear the face veil and it is this small group of individuals that will be affected by the new law that went into effect today. However, contrary to expectation, France protested this law but in a controlled and subdued manner as compared to the rage and criticism expressed by Muslims living abroad who called the law an "impingement on religious freedom".
In 2004, Sarkozy's Government had banned the use of head scarves and other religious symbols in schools, as a step toward enforcing the separateness of church and state. At the time Sarkozy went as far as to call " these veils “unwelcome in France” as a symbol of the subjugation of women and backed the call for an inquiry. Today's law will ban veils and niquabs in all public places which includes streets and public transportation, and one wonders whether Sarkozy is using this measure to improve his public approval ratings in a France caught in the grip of Islamaphobia.