General Travel News

Niqab ban in France from April 11 2011

Effective April 11 2011 the French government has outlawed the wearing of a full face veil in public in France. Women who wish to wear a niqab have to stay within their homes or they will be fined Euro 150 if they are seen at any French airport, street, shopping centre or any other public places. Niqab wearing women may drive private cars but cannot use public transport or visit tourist attractions such as the Louvre or the Eiffel Tower. They may wear the niqab in mosques and places of worship.

Last year Belgium also banned the niqab and the controversial law was criticised by many including Amnesty International. “A general ban on the wearing of full face veils would violate the rights to freedom of expression and religion of those women who choose to express their identity or beliefs in this way,” said an Amnesty Internationall statement on the issue.

Although a small minority of Muslim women in France wear the niqab - or full face veil - this law has created a sense of insecurity among the millions of Muslims in Europe. Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel and more recently Britain's David Cameron have been speaking openly about the failure of their cultural tolerance policies of the past and the need to integrate and adopt "Christian values." President Nicolas Sarkozy of France is also a big proponent of the need to contain the growth of Islamic culture in France.

If tourists from the Middle East speak with their wallets and stop visiting Paris, Nice and other French cities for their holiday and also avoid transiting through Charles de Gaulle or Orly airports then economic pressure may lead to a reversal of the ban. Meanwhile, if you wear a niqab then it is best that you avoid a trip to France.

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