A Spanish town council has voted to ban the wearing of the face-covering Muslim veil in public buildings, the first authority in the predominantly Catholic country to do so.
Full Muslim face veils could become the next divisive religious issue to take centre stage in Switzerland, where voters last November approved a measure banning the construction of new minarets. The Swiss federal government said in February it saw no need for a “burqa ban.” Politicians at the national level say there’s no “burqa problem” in Switzerland. But few thought there was a “minaret problem” either, until the question was put to a national referendum and the minaret ban campaigners won.
France attempted the arguably impossible on Wednesday by presenting a bill to ban Muslim face veils and asking Muslims not to feel it was singling them out in the process.
Jean-François Copé on September 5, 2009/Olivier Pon
One of the most frequent questions I get from readers outside of France is how politicians here can justify banning Muslim face veils in public places. Isn’t this a blatant violation of the freedom of religion? Why isn’t this seen as such an obvious case of discrimination that legislators reject the idea outright?
Efforts by French politicians to “ban the burqa” hit the wall of constitutional reality today when the Council of State, France’s top administrative court, said there was no legal way Paris could completely outlaw full Islamic veils in public. The issue has been at the centre of complex and sometimes heated debate in France in recent months, but it wasn’t clear until now how far French and European law would allow the state to go. We still don’t know exactly what the law will look like, but the back story to today’s report is a tale in itself.