Europe & Turkey - The Burqa - Several Countries Prohibit or Regulate

The burqa is usually prohibited by local ordinances on behalf of the need to see the faces. But the simple veil, who does not hide the face, is widely accepted in the world

Banning the burqa? Almost all European countries have considered. And took measures to severely restrict the wearing of this garment that completely covers the head and body of women, a fence hiding their eyes.


The Netherlands were the first to introduce legislation in spring 2007, which prohibits the full veil in schools and public transport. About 6% of Dutch people are Muslims, but the burqa covers only a few hundred women. Recently, the ban was extended to universities. "We must ensure a proper communication and be able to look someone in the eye, has justified the member Margot Kraneveldt. Sweden and Italy have also banned the burqa in public places.


In Belgium, no federal law prohibiting the wearing of the burqa. The issue lies with the municipalities, and several have adopted regulations prohibiting cover her face as to render identification impossible. The text makes no explicit reference to the burqa, but they were made especially in communes of the Brussels region which have sizeable Muslim populations, like or Molenbeek Schaerbeek, and Antwerp.

Violate the regulation of local police is liable to a fine of approximately € 75, carnivals an exception. Islam is the main religion practiced in Brussels, which has around 80 mosques. People are saying Muslims are estimated at 17%.

Without regulation, they frame

Some European countries have always had a tradition of freedom of dress, Germany and United Kingdom face turn to the issue of the burqa, have adopted a common approach to framing. Thus, Great Britain, long very tolerant of religious symbols, changes since 2006. One year after the London bombings, Jack Straw, now Justice Minister, denounced the full veil as a "visible statement of separation". Since then he asks women who wear it and come to see its permanence election in his constituency to remove it.

It must be said that the full black veil is relatively common in some British quarters. In east London, many women, often young, wear it in their daily lives, doing their shopping, children in hand. The popular press has argued forcefully last week, statements by Nicolas Sarkozy. "Banish the burka here in the United Kingdom. Even Muslims do not want, "headlined the Daily Express. "Those who choose to live by the rules of the Taliban have nothing to do here," said the Daily Mail.

In Germany, the ban on wearing burqas in the streets would be considered primarily as contrary to the rights of religious minorities. A pilot project, Burkina Faso, has even been launched in a swimming pool in Berlin, to facilitate its access to Muslim women. The swimsuit lets face, feet and hands in the air. Hence its name, a mixture of burqa and bikini ...

But these attempts at integration generate a lively debate, backed by the writer Ralph Giordano, in 2007, was nicknamed "human penguins" women wearing the burqa. German Jew who escaped death when he was a teenager in hiding with his family in a cellar in Hamburg, Ralph Giordano, 84, had then attracted the congratulations of the neo-Nazis that had obviously pushed vigorously .

Germany, now also taking action. Thus in Bonn, two graders were excluded from their school in 2006 because they were presented in the required time that women in Afghanistan. The headmaster had justified their dismissal, explaining that teachers' want to see the faces of their students. The two girls could not follow the course of sports or work practices.


The headscarf is allowed for students in Germany, while being forbidden to teachers or staff. While he is banned in French schools since 2004. Rigor in Germany is attributed to the strong traditions of French secularism. And that is an exception in Europe. Thus, a recent Gallup poll indicates that two thirds of French non-Muslims believe that wearing a simple headscarf is contrary to the integration into society, against only one third of Britons and Germans.

"The French public is no difference between the headscarf and the full veil, while the British draw a clear line between the two," analyst Dalia Mogahed, author of the study. In the United Kingdom it is common to see women wearing the headscarf in the exercise of their profession: teachers, lawyers, receptionists ... It is also true for students, sometimes as early as elementary school.

Belgium is also trying to arrange the issue of the veil. If the wearing of religious symbols is prohibited for officials in contact with the public (ATM), an internal memorandum in the Federal Ministry of Justice, dated March, recommends to tolerate other religious symbols in public administration. In Federal Parliament, the Rules has been amended to allow veiled women access to public galleries.

Turkey as a secular republic, it also has strict rules. Impossible for a veiled woman to study at a public university, to become official or lawyer. Likewise for those who wear çarşaf (the Turkish equivalent of the burqa). It is true that they are generally unwilling to participate in social and economic development, although some ventured a little longer outside the home.

In Istanbul, it is in the neighborhood Carsamba that it crosses over the Muslim body fully covered. "In the past, some women added a thin black veil over his eyes, said Binnaz Toprak, University of the Bosphorus. But it is invisible. The phenomenon of çarşaf is too anecdotal. "This university has published research in 2006 showing a decrease of headscarves and çarşaf.

In 2006, 1.1% of Turkey said wearing the full veil, against 3.4% in 1999, a phenomenon more common in the countryside than in town. "Women who wear çarşaf are not a political issue," said Binnaz Toprak. In this they differ from the young activists who, since the 1990s, fighting for the right to enter the university with their headscarves.


In the United States, non-state interference and freedom of worship are included and guaranteed in the First Amendment of the Constitution. Show membership is common in a country with a huge variety religious and 80% of the population believing affirmed. Barack Obama pointed out clearly on the landing beaches June 6

"In the U.S., our attitude is not to tell people what they can wear (...). The most effective way to integrate all people, all faiths, not prevent them from wearing traditional clothing or other. "In six to eight million Muslims in the country, wearing the burqa remains marginal, even in states with large Muslim population (Illinois, Washington, Houston and Southern California).

However the legal requirements necessary for women who wear it. Thus, Florida, in 2003, a judge has refused to deal with the complaint of a woman in a burqa on the grounds that he could not see her face if she was sincere. More recently, a woman could get her driving license because she was not bareheaded, as required by law for all passport photographs.

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By: Nathalie LACUBE with GEFFROY Flora (San Diego), Sébastien Maillard (Brussels), Sébastien Martin (London), Delphine NERBOLLIER (Istanbul) and Michel Verrier (Berlin)

Source: (Original in French / En Francais)