French ban on burqas upheld by European court

The law had been criticized as aimed at Muslim women in France.
By Ed Adamczyk   |   July 1, 2014 at 12:36 PM   |   Comments

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STASBOURG, France, July 1 (UPI) -- France's ban on face veils, or burqas, was upheld Tuesday by the European Court of Human Rights.

The 2010 law also bans hoods, motorcycle helmets and other full-face coverings in public places but has been condemned as targeting Muslim women in France, where an estimated 5 million Muslims reside.

The Strasbourg, France, court accepted the French argument that the law was not aimed at wearers of burqas and was designed to preserve an idea of "living together" as its "legitimate aim," the judges wrote in their decision.

The complainant in the case, a French citizen, 24, identified only by her initials "SAS," claimed outlawing the full-face veil was "inhumane and degrading, against the right of respect for family and private life, freedom of thought, conscience and religion, freedom of speech and discriminatory," her attorneys argued.

Isabelle Niedlispacher, representing the Belgian government and testifying in court on behalf of the French government, said a similar 2011 law in Belgium was "about social communication, the right to interact with someone by looking them in the face and about not disappearing under a piece of clothing."

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