France’s Burqa Ban Gets New Scrutiny in European Court

Another conflict between the European Union and one of its member states has come to a head over France’s prohibition of women wearing the naqib, or the full-face veil. The European Court of Human Rights is considering a case brought by an unnamed Muslim woman who says the French mandate that she remove her veil in public is an infringement on her religious, free speech, and privacy rights. On the same day that the case was brought before the Court, the Paris Court of Appeals ruled that a private day-care center had been within its rights to fire Fatima Afif for refusing to remove her headscarf, reversing a decision by the French Supreme Court that said the day care center’s actions amounted to religious discrimination. Afif’s lawyer said he is willing to take the case all the way to the European Court of Human Rights.

Two competing characteristics of contemporary France set the stage for this escalating conflict. The French state is deeply secular, and has some of Europe’s most restrictive laws about public expressions of faith. France also has the largest Muslim minority in Europe, due in part to an influx of immigrants from North Africa when the French lost their colonial empire there in the 1960s. It is this population most affected by France’s most recent prohibition on religious expression – colloquially known as the “burqa ban.”

For more, read Elizabeth’s full article on the Huffington Post.

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