France: Proposal for inquiry commission on burkas

France: Proposal for inquiry commission on burkas

Facing an increasing number of women who are completely veiled, French parliament members across teh board are calling for a debate.

Today it isn't rare anymore to pass a woman veiled from head to toe on the street.  In Vénissieux, the third largest city in the Rhône department, niqabs, long black veils that only leave the eyes uncovered, are very popular.

André Gerin, parliament member for this area for PCF (Communist Party), is calling for a national debate, and not only because he was incapable of marrying a woman whose future husband did not want her to reveal her face.  57 other parliament members - 2 from PCF, 7 from the Socialist Party , 43 UMP (Union for a Popular Movement), 2 New Center and 3 independent - signed a proposal for a resolution to be brought up in the National Assembly which will create a parliamentary commission of inquiry on the issue.  A similar commission on secularism in 2003 led to the ban on religious symbols in schools.

Will there be a ban on burkas, similar to that in Belgium?  A year ago the Council of State refused to give French citizenship to a Moroccan wearing a burka, and HALDE (High Authority for the Struggle Against Discrimination and for Equality) confirmed in September a case where a woman was excluded from a French integration course because she wore a burka.

André Gerin says that the idea is not to decide in advance what should be done, but to study the issue and to conduct dialog. 

The Muslims community does not object against the debate.  Dalil Boubakeur, rector of the Paris Mosque says that wearing a burqa is not prescribed by the Koran.  According to Islam women should cover their hair and dress decently.  He says that the increase in this type of dress is a sign of progress in certain fundamentalist trends.  He supports the parliamentary efforts on condition that they listen to experts in Islam.

Source: Le Parisien (French)

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