First Muslim Women Fined For Wearing Headscarves In France

Almost a year after France made it illegal for women to wear a hijab, the head- and face-covering scarf worn by some Muslim women, two women have been fined for choosing to wear their scarves anyway.

The New York Times reports that a court in Meaux, a city just outside Paris, ordered Hind Ahmas and Najate Nait Ali to pay up for breaking the law. Ahmas has to pay €120 (a little over $162 at current exchange) and Ali was fined €80 ($108 and some change).

Ahmas and Ali were arrested outside of Meaux’s town hall in May, on the birthday of the town’s mayor Jean-François Copé. It probably didn’t help Ahmas or Ali much that Copé was one of the biggest supporters of the law’s implementation, and is head of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s conservative UMP party.

Copé’s officers might have arrested the first women to get fined, but Ahmas and Ali aren’t the only Muslim Frenchwomen who have been stopped or otherwise informed that their hijabs are against French law. Per the Times:

As for the niqab, French police have stopped 201 women, and 159 have received citations for wearing the veil since the law entered into force in April, though none had been issued fines before Thursday, according to the Interior Ministry. Before the ban, the ministry estimated that about 2,000 women wore facial veils in France.

An organization called Don’t Touch My Constitution is working to make sure not all 2,000 of those women get fined. Its lawyers paid the fines for both Ahmas and Ali, but plan on appealing the fine to both the French supreme court and the European Court of Human Rights. The group expects the Human Rights court will “sanction the French state by eliminating or amending the ban.”

[NYT]

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