The European Court of Human Rights upheld France’s 2010 ban on full-face veils in public on Tuesday but acknowledged the law could appear excessive and feed stereotypes.
Judges at the Strasbourg-based court, by 15 to 2, said the ban did not violate religious freedom and aimed to ensure “respect for the minimum set of values of an open democratic society” which included openness to social interaction.
In their ruling, which cannot be appealed, the judges “accepted that the barrier raised against others by a veil concealing the face in public could undermine the notion of ‘living together’” that France defended in its argument, the court said in a statement.
It was the first time the court has ruled on niqab and burqa veils, which have stoked controversy in several European states although few women wear them. A French Muslim woman filed the suit for discrimination and breach of religious freedom