Last week, the European Court of Human Rights upheld a French ban on face veils. The court ruled that a 2010 ban on wearing full-face veils in public does not violate the fundamental right to freedom of religion and expression. The case was brought to court by a 24-year-old French woman who argued that that she wore the niqāb – which covers the face, leaving only the eyes exposed – for religious reasons, and that the ban violated her right to private and family life and freedom of thought.
The court, however, 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” and that “the face plays a significant role in social interaction”.
What do YOU think about the French ban prohibiting full-face veils in public spaces? Does the ban discriminate against the beliefs of religious minorities? Or is it a way to include everybody equally within an open society, something full-face veils prevent by discouraging social interaction? Should other European countries copy the ban?
In recent years (and particularly following the rise of the anti-immigration Front National party) public debate in France has taken a much harder line on upholding secular values. Secularism (or laïcité) is seen as a cornerstone of the French Republic and is enshrined in the French Constitution.
France (with the largest Muslim community in Western Europe) was the first European country to ban veils that fully conceal the face, followed by Belgium. In addition, local bans on face veils have already been implemented in Barcelona in Spain, Ticino in Switzerland and in some cities in Italy.
Do you think a ban on face veils violates the fundamental right to freedom of religion and expression? How far should states be allowed to go in prohibiting religious signs in public spaces? Should other countries copy France and implement a ban on face veils? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section below and we’ll take them to policy-makers for their reaction!
IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – Leena
IMPORTANT NOTICE: Debating Europe will not tolerate racist or xenophobic comments in our debates. We want to encourage different views on this issue, and intend to include your comments in interviews we will arrange with supporters and critics of the ban. However, if you take part in this debate then you agree to our Code of Conduct. Any comments in breach of this code will be removed.