France requires face masks but still bans Islamic face coverings

While French citizens nationwide will be covering their faces, women who do so with Islamic garb are still subject to punishment.”Can the Islamophobia be any more transparent?” Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth said on Twitter. The ban also extended to Christian crosses and the yarmulkes worn by observant Jews. Five others — Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark and the Netherlands — have followed with national or partial bans. Coronavirus: The Race To Respond

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Violations of the ban can lead to a fine of up to €150 (about $162) and taking a required class in French citizenship education. “The French government mandates masks but still bans the burqua.”

In this February 2010 photo, a woman wearing a niqab veil participates in a protest in Tours, central France, after a panel of French lawmakers recommended a ban on face-covering veils in all schools, hospitals, public transport and government offices. The French government confirmed that its years-long ban on wearing burqas and niqabs in public will remain in place, even as face masks become mandatory on Monday. France was the first European nation to pass such a nationwide ban. But that doesn’t change the country’s controversial ban on Islamic face coverings. In 2010, France banned face-covering niqabs and burqas in public, framing it as a move to promote open and equal interaction in society. France will still ban Islamic face coverings even after making masks mandatory

By Jason Silverstein

May 11, 2020 / 1:15 PM
/ CBS News

France is now mandating masks for all citizens during the coronavirus pandemic. Getty

France’s Interior Minister confirmed to The Washington Post that the burqa and niqab bans remain, and women who wear those coverings in public will be “punished with the fine provided for second-class infractions.” CBS News has reached out to the Interior Minister’s office for more information. The ban does include an exemption for face coverings used for health reasons, and the ministry said wearing masks to prevent COVID-19 contagion will not be a criminal offense.France began its mandatory mask policy on Monday as part of what the government calls “a new chapter” in its emergence from a strict coronavirus lockdown. The ban set off protests where some people clashed with police. Some businesses and schools will reopen, and people can now travel up to 60 miles from home.France has reported more than 177,000 coronavirus cases and 26,300 deaths as of Monday afternoon — the fourth-highest toll in Europe, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.France in 2004 banned headscarves in public schools, on the grounds that state institutions are supposed to be religiously neutral. Other have local bans in some cities or are considering legislation on broader bans.The United Nations Human Rights Committee in 2018 said that France’s ban violated women’s freedom of religion and “could have the effect of confining them to their homes, impeding their access to public services and marginalizing them.”
First published on May 11, 2020 / 1:15 PM