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© Thinkstock - Burka
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When President Nicolas Sarkozy proposed to ban the wearing of the Burka in public places, the effects of the debate rippled across the world.

Disputes began in the UK, Europe and the Middle East, igniting heated and conflicting views from everyone from world leaders to shopkeepers.

The Burka, also known as the Niqab, is a full length veil that covers a woman’s entire face and body. It is now officially banned from public places in France and Belgium and it seems that other countries might follow suit.
Banning the Burka - A European debate?
Under new legislation in France, the wearing of the Burka is be banned in all public places, including high streets, supermarkets and on public transport.

This new law, follows the 2004  legislation in France that disallows the wearing of ‘ostentatious religious signs’ (to be worn or displayed) meaning Burkas and Hijabs were already banned in French schools. Some have asked if this new law is simply an extension of this law, but this time targeting muslims specifically? 

President Sarkozy, speaking at Versailles earlier this year said: 'The Burka is not a religious problem, it's a question of liberty and women's dignity. It's not a religious symbol, but a sign of subservience and debasement.'

'I want to say solemnly, the Burka is not welcome in France. In our country, we can't accept women prisoners behind a screen, cut off from all social life, deprived of all identity. That is not our idea of freedom.'

His comments have been widely supported in France and have rippled across Europe. The home affairs committee in the Brussels federal parliament in Belgium has voted for a ban and in Italy as recently as May, a woman was fined 500 Euro (£340) for wearing a Burka in public. It was reported that her husband will keep her indoors day and night as a result. 

Interestingly, the UK has not implemented a ban although the topic was widely discussed and a YouGov survey found that 67% of UK voters were in favour of a ban. As MP Damian Green stipulated, the banning of the Burka in the UK would be distinctly “un-British”.

Speaking to the Sunday Telegraph in July, the Immigration Minister said, “Telling people what they can and can’t wear, if they’re just walking down the street, is a rather un-British thing to do.

We’re a tolerant and mutually respectful society.” Damian Green’s comments came as a relief to many Muslims in Britain, who feared for a similar ban in the UK. 

But what about the woman behind the veil?

Becky Middleton


Women in Focus Editor
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Article Plan The right to wear the Burka?
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