Islam

European Court of Human Rights: French Facial Veil Ban Isn't Discriminatory Against Muslims

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Gideon Wright/Flickr

As Americans are arguing over Christian corporations and birth control, Europeans are grappling with their own contentious case concerning religious freedom. Today, the European Court of Human Rights ruled to uphold France's ban on facial veils, which was instituted under Nicolas Sarkozy in 2011. Since then, hundreds of women have been fined up to 150 euros for defying the ban, according to The New York Times.

French Muslims protest that women wearing the full-face veil, known as the niqab, is a part of the Muslim faith. An unnamed 24-year-old French woman brought the case against her government, saying the law was discriminatory and, as a practicing Muslim, it violated her freedom of conscience rights. 

French officials said the ban was needed because facial veils presented a security risk by hiding a wearer's identity. They also fretted that without it, "Islamic separatism" would erode French culture. 

The European Court of Human Rights didn't buy the security-risk rationale. In a statement, it said that the government's objective "could be attained by a mere obligation to show their face and to identify themselves where a risk for the safety of persons and property was established, or where particular circumstances prompted a suspicion of identity fraud." 

However, the court also didn't take to the plaintiff's claim that the ban violated her religious freedom. Because "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," the ban couldn't be characterized as discriminatory against Muslims, the court said.

Rather, the niqab ban constituted "a choice of society," and thus banning them could be "regarded as proportionate to the aim pursued, namely the preservation of the conditions of 'living together'." This is apparently what passes for "objective and reasonable justification" in the E.U.

Since France passed the niqab ban, only Belgium has followed suit, though numerous countries—including the U.K., Germany, the Netherlands, and Switzerland—have debated it and/or banned it in certain situations. These bans are sold as secularist, progressive, and feminist. But—as Shikha Dalma wrote here in 2010—they rely on the same principles driving religious fanaticism, conservatism, and patriarchal societies: A desire to force one's beliefs and practices on others and an idea that women shouldn't be allowed to make their own choices.

Burqas and facial veils "are certainly a tool of female oppression in Islamic theocracies where sharia law sanctions violence against women who violate its strictures," wrote Dalma. "But that is not true in liberal democracies where the reason government exists is to protect personal choices from physical violence."  

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  1. What happened with the ban on Sikh turbans? I seem to recall that one getting a whole lot more pushback….

    1. Screw with people that have a religious duty to be armed with a kirpan?!

      Also, they don’t cover the face so all the ID, terrorismz!!!! Burglar!!!! ROBBERZ!!! concerns go away.

      1. Don’t they carry a kirpan that’s the size of a toothpick?

      2. oh, right = they fought it and won

  2. If only her employer had refused to pay for her niqab.

    Note to low-information lefties: THIS is what it looks like when your rights are violated.

  3. Property owners refusing admittance to women wearing veils — OK

    Government banning veils in public — Not OK

    Why is that so fucking hard for 90% of humanity to understand.

    1. Uhm, my understanding with modern progressives is:

      Property owners refusing admittance to women wearing veils– NOT OK.

      Government banning veils in public — OK.

      1. See, according to Sotamayor, it ok as long as it uniform.

        That’s why its good when the *government* does it – then everyone is the same.

        Let private actors do it and then some people will be wearing the veil and some won’t and things will be all higgledy-piggledy!

        1. NOT HIGGLEDY-PIGGLEDY! ANYTHING BUT THAT!

          1. RELIGIOUSIST! RACIST!

            Why do you hate Jews and Muslims?

  4. Rather, the niqab ban constituted “a choice of society,” and thus banning them could be “regarded as proportionate to the aim pursued, namely the preservation of the conditions of ‘living together’.” This is apparently what passes for “objective and reasonable justification” in the E.U.

    Seems analogous to locations in the US banning nudity.

    1. “a choice of society” is not a phrase that actually means anything.

      “Society” is more an aggregation of individual choices, than it is a moral agent capable of making choices itself.

      1. I agree with you 100%, however if you asked the US courts to define why you can’t walk down the street naked I imagine their response would look much the same.

  5. European Court of Human Rights

    Um.

  6. Is there an official soccer thread yet?

    1. Yeah, Hotair’s got one! C’mon, get with it, Reason!

  7. You seem to have linked to the PDF on your hard drive and not somewhere where we can actually see it.

    1. Holy shit. Just look at all the porn on there!

  8. USA VS. BELGIUM!

  9. “But that is not true in liberal democracies where the reason government exists is to protect personal choices from physical violence.”

    Unless of course your personal choices are disapproved of by the Top Men. Then the physical violence is right back on the menu.

  10. These bans are sold as secularist, progressive, and feminist. But

    A desire to force one’s beliefs and practices on others and an idea that women shouldn’t be allowed to make their own choices.

    I’m sorry, but isn’t forcing people to alter their beliefs and practices despite their own wishes the basic goal of secular progressives world round? I mean, that’s kind of their point.

  11. European Court of Human Rights ruled to uphold France’s ban on facial veils,

    Y’see, European Human Rights aren’t like a square’s Human Rights.

  12. I found this from Jezebel in 2011 –

    “French Burqa Ban Has Succeeded In Making Things Worse…

    “…Gilles Devers, a lawyer representing Ahmas and several other women who violated the ban, explains that once a woman is fined, the case could be brought before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. The court could embarass the French state by ruling that forcing women to choose between their religious beliefs and their ability to live their lives freely violates human rights laws and ostracizes Muslim women.”

    Because Jezebel doesn’t think *Muslims* should be required to make such a choice!

    http://jezebel.com/5842000/fre…..ings-worse

    And of course I checked to see what they had to say about the Hobby Lobby decision:

    “If corporations are people then why can’t I punch one in the fucking face?

    “Today, five men on the Supreme Court said that women’s reproductive health care is less important than a woman’s boss’s superstition-based prudery and moral trepidation about fornication for female pleasure.”

    http://jezebel.com/why-women-a…..1598061808

  13. I did it all for the niqab…HUH!
    The niqab…HUH!
    The niqab…HUH!
    I did it all for the niqab
    So you can take your hijab
    And show it up your…

  14. European Court of Human Rights

    Posting in a dead thread, because if Europe is collectively known for one thing, it’s respecting human rights.

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