France: 'Burqa ban to prevent racist attacks'

France: 'Burqa ban to prevent racist attacks'

About a month ago French newspaper Le Monde wrote of two reports by French intelligence services which estimated the burqa phenomenon to be marginal. According to Le Monde, the SDIG report did not give any estimates, while the DCRI estimated there were 367 burqa wearers in France.

Le Figaro now says that according to the SDIG report, it's estimated there are no more than 2,000 burqa wearers. The SDIG links the burqa to the Salafists, those who preach returning to the way of life in Muhammad's days, and therefore made its estimate based on looking at where Salafists live.

André Gerin, head of the parliamentary commission on the burqa and former mayor of the Lyon suburb of Vénissieux, says this assessment is reasonable but is still an underestimate.

Éric Raoult, the UMP rapporteur for the commission, says that they require a more precise evaluation in order to better understand the phenomenon and provide a pragmatic response. They intend to consult social housing landlords and educational authorities who know what's happening and who are aware of the identification problems posed by mothers. Such people, however, might be reluctant to provide sensitive information.

But the burqa isn't just a 'problem of numbers', according to André Gerin. It shows the 'increase in fundamentalism in the past fifteen years'.

Mohamed Abdi, special adviser to Fadela Amara, says that initially the Belgians, Dutch and English thought these phenomenon were marginal, but now they are waking up to see numerous women in a burqa in some cities. Antagonism is emerging in the Netherlands and Belgium of violence against veiled women, says the adviser. Therefore, he says, we must be firm in France and clearly say no to fundamentalism. This will prevent the increase in racism.

Fadela Amara, who several times appealed for a law, is considering a ban on the burqa in public service: schools, hospital, municipalities and transportation. ID checks will be carried out in sensitive areas such as train stations and airports. A process which still needs to be validated by legal experts.

Source: Le Figaro (French)

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