21st Jun 2021

French National Assembly bans burqa

  • French deputies ignored critics' charges that the legislation was targetting Muslims (Photo: FotoRita)

France has taken a major step toward becoming the second country in Europe to ban the burqa.

In a 335-to-one vote in favour of the bill in the 557-seat National Assembly, deputies ignored critics' charges that the legislation targets Muslims and endorsed plans to fine women for choosing to cover their face.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Under the rules, which must be backed by the Senate in September before passing into force, women will be banned from wearing a full face veil such as the burqa or niqab in public.

Scofflaws would face fines of €150 for the first offence and men who force their wives to cover their faces would be slapped with an indemnity of €30,000 and a year in jail.

The opposition Socialists, who would have preferred that the bill only ban burqas from public buildings, abstained from the vote.

Although the bill does not make any explicit reference to Islam, many of France's 5 million Muslims argue that the legislation singles out their religion. Only a small minority - 1,900 women - of France's Muslims wear the full veil.

But the ban is massively popular from left to right, with some 82 percent of the French backing the law.

Belgium's lower house has also banned the burqa, while Spain announced in June it would ban the veil from public places for reasons of "security."

However, In March, France's Council of State, a senior government advisory body, warned that the bill could be unconsitutional. If the Senate approves the legislation, it will be reviewed by the country's Constitutional Court.

The Council of Europe has also warned such laws infringe upon individual freedom. They are likely to challenged by the European Court of Human Rights.

MEPs call for workers to have 'right to disconnect'

MEPs called for a new law guaranteeing workers can 'disconnect' outside work hours, without repercussion. But they also passed a last-minute amendment, calling on the commission to delay any legislation for three years.

EU rolls out vaccine, as UK-variant spreads

Most EU member states began rolling out the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against Covid-19 on Sunday, as a more contagious variant from the UK begins to spread on the continent.


Sweden's non-lockdown didn't work - why not?

The Swedish king would have been better advised to use his annual Christmas interview to call for unity of purpose and shed light on the political roots of the country's response.


BioNTech: Stop talking about their 'migration background'

I understand that the German-Turkish community - often subjected to condescension in Germany - celebrated the story. Uğur Şahin and Özlem Türecki represent scientific excellence and business success at the highest level.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. Too soon to lift EU sanctions on Burundi, NGOs warn
  2. EU to wage economic war on Belarus dictator
  3. EU commission takes stand against Danish asylum law
  4. Air pollution in many EU cities 'stubbornly high'
  5. EU leaders discuss Turkey, Russia, migration This WEEK
  6. Pandemic exposed corruption in some EU health systems
  7. The European Court of Justice vs German Constitutional Court
  8. AstraZeneca must deliver 50m doses by September or face fines

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us