Today France became the first country to ban the wearing of Islamic veils in public. This law did not go down quietly in Paris. Many women were found to be protesting in face veils in front of the famous Norte Dame Cathedral stating that the law imposes on their freedom of religion and personal expression. Parisian police officers began taking away some of them women in the police van for unauthorized protesting.
This law states that it is illegal to be in public with anything covering and hiding the face. Specifics were not included as to what types of covering but this new law—signed by President Nicolas Sarkozy—targets Muslim women who wear veils. Carefully worded, this law makes no mention of a specific group of people—be it Muslim or women. President Sarkozy has stated that veils are not welcome in France.
If found to wearing a veil, women can be fined $215/euro150 or sent to citizenship classes set up specially for this crime. Those that “force” women and minors to wear veils can be sentenced up to a year in prison plus a hefty fine of $43,000/euro30,000. Only in very extreme cases will women who refuse to remove their veils be sent to jail. How hard the police will try to enforce this law is yet to be seen.
The opinion of this new ban is very mixed amongst the French people. Some state it is racist and infringing on a person’s right to religion in democratic France. Others say the law must be accepted in order to integrate into France and with the French people and culture.