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Irony - France Still Bans Burqas Despite Demanding People to Cover Their Face

France begins to come out of their lockdown but a face make is still required. Although burqas are effective, like homemade masks, are still banned for Muslims.
Zahrah A
11 May 2020

As France begins to come back out of their Coronavirus lockdown, masks are now mandatory. People are required to wear masks in high school and on public transportation - or they may be fined! Shopkeepers have the right to ask their customers to wear face masks or ask them to leave. Additionally, Artificial-intelligence-integrated video cameras will be monitoring overall compliance on the Paris Metro.

France's President, Emmanuel Macron, had appeared at a school wearing a mask with the red, blue and white stripes of the French flag. The design seemed to point at the ideas of liberty, equality and fraternity.

burqa ban france
Image courtesy of The Washington Post

However, what about the Muslim citizens of France that are not allowed to wear burqas or risk being fined? It seems that Muslims will still not be able to cover their faces with a burqa, but ARE NOW REQUIRED TO COVER THEIR FACES WITH A MASK? Who can spell INSANITY? Carrying on ....

France is the originator of the burqa ban and has done more than other countries to prevent Muslim women from covering their face for religious reasons.

Many freedom advocates and scholars as well as Muslims, saw the irony in a society that had made an uncovered face so important that suddenly required faces to be covered.

Fatima Khemilat, a fellow at the Political Science Institute of Aix-en-Provence, had said that “If you are Muslim and you hide your face for religious reasons, you are liable to a fine and a citizenship course where you will be taught what it is to be ‘a good citizen’ ”. She then followed to explain that if you're a non-Muslim during the pandemic, you are "encouraged and forced" as a 'good citizen' to adopt barrier gestured in order to protect the community.

“We see this asymmetrical reading of the same behaviour — covering the face, depending on the context and the person who performs it — as arbitrary at best, discriminatory at worst,” she said.

What Does the Law in France Say About Burqas?

French law regulates covering of the face because it violates one of the fundamental values of the republic. In 2004, headscarves were banned in public schools, citing religious neutrality in state institutions. Later in 2010, a face-covering niqab or burqa was banned everywhere in public. They argued that the religious garments threatened public safety as well as represent a rejection of a society of equal citizens.

France's Interior Ministry had confirmed to The Washing Post that the ban will still apply regardless of the ongoing pandemic. This is even though all citizens are encouraged to cover their faces. The ministry has said that if a woman wears a face-covering garment will be "punished with the fine provided for second-class infractions." This fine can go up to €150.

So this suggests that if an observant Muslin woman goes out into public spaces, she will need to remove her Burqa and replace it with a mask.

Strictly speaking, the French government's rules on masks do not specify what counts as an acceptible mask. Earlier in the virus outbreak, when masks were reserved for health workers, people had used clothing items such as scarves, wrapped around the face.

Even though a Burqa holds religious significance, it covers the nose and mouth like any other homemade mask.

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