UN set to lambast France for its ‘discriminatory’ 2010 burqa ban

The UN Human Rights Committee is set to rule that France's 2010 law which forbids people from concealing their face in public is 'discriminatory' and 'goes against religious freedom', the French media has revealed.

UN set to lambast France for its 'discriminatory' 2010 burqa ban
Photo: Philippe Huguen/AFP
In 2010, France's controversial burqa ban made headlines around the world, and it may be about to hit the front pages  again.
The UN Human Rights Committee (OHCHR) will shortly reveal its conclusion that the law, which forbids people from concealing their face in public – goes against 'religious freedom' and is 'discriminatory against women', French media has reported.
The OHCHR – a consultative body made up of independent international experts but which has no legal power to impose law changes and recently some politicians have called for the law to be hardened. 


The subject came up last week after it was revealed that after France's most-wanted man Redoine Faïd was arrested after 3 months on the run, had worn a burqa for disguise.

It is not the first time the committee has been asked to examine French law. 
In August, the UN experts handed in their conclusion into the 'Baby Loup' case, in which a woman called Fatima Afif was fired from a nursery near Paris in 2008 for flouting company rules by wearing a headscarf. 


They ruled that France had infringed religious freedom and that the case breached international agreements on human rights. 

The woman's lawyers took the case to the UN body after France's highest court endorsed her dismissal in 2014 after a long legal battle. That year, the French court's decision was also upheld by the European Court of Human Rights.Thecommittee advised the French government to take the necessary steps to prevent similar actions in the future.

The controversial case, named after the name of the nursery where it happened – was the basis for a new law on religious neutrality in private nurseries in France.
Burqa ban five years on - 'We created a monster'
In France, which has Europe's largest Muslim population, tensions over Muslim headwear and other religious clothing regularly flare up, pitting the country's cherished secular constitution against religious freedoms.
A spate of jihadist terrorist attacks in recent years has made these issues particularly sensitive.
As well as the 2010 burqa ban France also introduced a law in 2004 which banned 'ostensible' religious symbols or items of clothing in state primary and secondary schools as well as all state-run buildings like town halls.
Defenders of the 2010 law, brought in under the presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy, argued that its main aim was as a security measure to bar anyone from being able to hide their identity in public. Supporters also said it would help promote freedom and respect for women. 
But critics at the time argued that the law was simply brought in to win votes and pander to the increasingly Islamophobic right.
When it introduced the burqa ban in 2010, France was the first European country to do so. Denmark and the Netherlands have since followed suit. 
The fine line of teaching religion in France's secular schools

Member comments

  1. The banning of wearing symbols of your religious faith is wrong for many reasons.But the wearing of clothing that entirely hides your identity is a total security risk and the French law on that should stand.
    Anyway, what right has the UN Human Rights Committee got to criticise our laws when they have just elected countries with appalling human rights record on to their council.

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Erdogan calls French separatism bill ‘guillotine’ of democracy

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday denounced a planned French law designed to counter "Islamist separatism" as a "guillotine" of democracy.

Erdogan calls French separatism bill 'guillotine' of democracy
Erdogan has already denounced the proposed measures as "anti-Muslim". Photo: Adem ALTAN/AFP

The draft legislation has been criticised both inside France and abroad for stigmatising Muslims and giving the state new powers to limit speech and religious groups.

“The adoption of this law, which is openly in contradiction of human rights, freedom of religion and European values, will be a guillotine blow inflicted on French democracy,” said Erdogan in a speech in Ankara.

The current version of the planned law would only serve the cause of extremism, putting NGOs under pressure and “forcing young people to choose between their beliefs and their education”, he added.

READ ALSO: What’s in France’s new law to crack down on Islamist extremism?

“We call on the French authorities, and first of all President (Emmanuel) Macron, to act sensibly,” he continued. “We expect a rapid withdrawal of this bill.”

Erdogan also said he was ready to work with France on security issues and integration, but relations between the two leaders have been strained for some time.

France’s government is in the process of passing new legislation to crack down on what it has termed “Islamist separatism”, which would give the state more power to vet and disband religious groups judged to be threats to the nation.

Erdogan has already denounced the proposed measures as “anti-Muslim”.

READ ALSO: Has Macron succeeded in creating an ‘Islam for France’?

Last October, Erdogan questioned Macron’s “mental health”, accusing him of waging a “campaign of hatred” against Islam, after the French president defended the right of cartoonists to caricature the prophet Mohammed.

The two countries are also at odds on a number of other issues, including Libya, Syria and the eastern Mediterranean.