France Approves Burka Ban By Overwhelming Majority

Remember when Belgium surpassed France in the race to be the first country to ban the usage of burkas? Yesterday, 336 votes against one voted for France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy’s proposed ban, taking France one step closer to becoming the second nation to host this law.

The Associated Press reports that all political parties were in support of the ban, including the Socialist Party. However, the latter did not vote due to disagreements over Sarkozy’s conservatives and xenophobic attractions in certain aspects of it.

The declared reasons behind this ban state the woman’s garment is a “prison for women” and a “sign of their submission to their husbands, brothers or fathers.” While the law leans dangerously close to racial profiling, Sarkozy’s team has crafted the law to press against anyone who wears any face-covering material, not just Muslim women — specifying that the bill simply “forbid concealing one’s face in public.”

In the law’s draft, which was released in mid-May, ABC news reported that the country will charge a fine of 150 euros ($185) and, depending on the case, citizenship classes for woman who are caught wearing the face-covering veils in public.

The bill also includes husbands, fathers, and anyone convicted of forcing someone to wear the burka. Those committing the proposed offense will face a year in prison and a 15,000 euro ($18,555) fine.

The burka ban will go through a final screening in France’s senate this September, but the biggest roadblock France’s majority will have to face is the question of whether banning the religious garment would comply with France’s constitution.

Regardless of what one may think of the burka, it’s absurd to think that enforcing the ban would liberate “all” women when, like any piece of clothing, some women may just see it as an outlet of personal expression.


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