France’s lower house passed a bill to criminalise the niqab. There were 335 votes for the bill and only one against in the 557-seat National Assembly. The BBC reported that after the vote, Justice Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said it was a victory for democracy and for French values.
The bill will become law if ratified by the French Senate in September. Once passed anyone defying the new law will face a fine of 150 Euro.
France is following in the footsteps of Belgium, which has also drafted and passed a similar bill banning the face veil. Other countries considering banning the burqa include the Netherlands, Spain and Canada. Fines and imprisonment will be used to enforce the draconian legislation.
It is important to note that these growing calls for criminalising the face veil have important and significant implications for Muslims and particularly Muslim women in Europe:
1. These moves give a green light for more governments to consider bans and fines to be put into law
2. MPs passing banning laws send a strong symbolic warning to Muslims against ostentatious displays of their faith.
3. It is clear that Europe’s political class are deliberately fanning the flames of xenophobic Islamophobia resulting in prejudice and discrimination whilst cowardly hiding behind the hollow notion of protecting liberal values.
4. Pending bans give oxygen to supremacist fascist voices such as Geert Wilders who publicly describes Islam as barbaric and advocate the banning of the Quran. Indeed, Geert Wilders’s hateful views have been positively normalised due to the attitudes displayed by European governments on an array of anti-Muslim issues.
5. While the banning orders are focused on the niqab, calls for a ban on the hijab, as has already happened in French universities, will certainly follow.
6. These draft bans clearly demonstrate that western cries to liberate Muslim women in places like Afghanistan and Iraq are in fact lies which mask a wave of liberal intolerance that does not have the capacity to accept cultural and religious diversity.
7. These discriminatory laws, clearly designed to single-out Muslims, harks back to Europe’s ugly history of racism, minority baiting and xenophobia and shows that such attitudes remain alive and well in Europe’s democratic corridors of power.
8. This vote exposes the failure of the freedom and democracy agenda to look after the rights let alone interests of minority populations without attempting to erase diverse identities.
These calculated attempts to coerce Muslims to abandon Islam have not only been futile rather they have further strengthened Muslim resolve to seek to understand their religion as a way of life and to continue to return to the sublime values of Islam in droves.
Allah (SWT) says:
How can ye reject the faith in Allah.- seeing that ye were without life, and He gave you life; then will He cause you to die, and will again bring you to life; and again to Him will ye return. [2:28]