France: Lower Parliament Votes to Ban Burqas
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After jawboning for a couple years about perhaps making public face-covering illegal, the French have taken action. The lower house of the legislature passed a bill and it is thought the legislation will become law in September.

There has also been also movement in Belgium to disallow burqas in the public space: Belgium ban burqa-type dress; Law cites public security, securing emancipation of women.

This follows a referendum in Switzerland last year where voters chose to ban minarets.

So Europe has not completely caved to the Muslim demographic onslaught.

French parliament approves ban on face veils, AP, July 13, 2010

France’s lower house of parliament overwhelmingly approved a ban on wearing burqa-style Islamic veils Tuesday, part of a concerted effort to define and protect French values that has disconcerted many in the country’s large Muslim community.

Proponents of the law say face-covering veils don’t square with the French ideal of women’s equality or its secular tradition. The bill is controversial abroad but popular in France, where its relatively few outspoken critics say conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy has resorted to xenophobia to attract far-right voters.

The ban on burqas and niqabs will go in September to the Senate, where it also is likely to pass. Its biggest hurdle will likely come after that, when France’s constitutional watchdog scrutinizes it. Some legal scholars say there is a chance it could be deemed unconstitutional.

Spain and Belgium have similar bans in the works. In France, which has Europe’s largest Muslim population, about 5 million of the country’s 64 million people are believed to be Muslim. While ordinary headscarves are common in France, only about 1,900 women are believed to wear face-covering veils. […]

France’s government has sought to insist that assimilation is the only path for immigrants and minorities, and last year it launched a grand nationwide debate on what it means to be French. The country has had difficulty integrating generations of immigrants and their children, as witnessed by weeks of rioting by youths, many of them minorities, in troubled neighborhoods in 2005.

Middle East expert Daniel Pipes has been collecting instances of the burqa being used for criminal or terrorist purposes, and has compiled quite a list: Niqabs and Burqas as Security Threats. On that subject, he astutely remarked, ”The niqab and burqa should both be banned on security grounds, as one cannot have faceless persons walking the streets, driving cars, or otherwise entering public spaces.”
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