French Niqab Ban in Action

The controversial new French law that bans Muslim women from wearing the niqab, or full-face veil, went into effect today and was met with resistance in Paris.  The New York Times reports:

The police detained two fully veiled women at a small protest outside the Notre Dame cathedral in central Paris, where demonstrators were easily outnumbered by police officers and journalists. But it was not clear whether the women had been held under laws forbidding unauthorized demonstrations.

French authorities estimate that less than 2,000 women in the entire country even wear the niqab, in a country of nearly 63 million.  The NYT article continues:

The ban also applies to foreigners visiting France… Violators may be punished with a fine of 150 euros, equivalent to $215. But people forcing others to cover their faces are subject to much stiffer punishments, including a maximum 12 months in prison and a fine of 30,000 euros, equivalent to more than $42,000, or twice that amount if the person forced to cover their face is a minor.

I’ve argued before that France’s so-called attempts at “liberating” Muslim women in reality perpetuates racist and assimilationist notions of national identity.  Some Muslims in France are organizing to challenge the law.  One wealthy property developer has set aside some $2.8 million to help women fight the ban and is encouraging women to wear the niqab in the streets as a form of civil disobedience. (Check out this video of a French Muslim woman taking a train to Paris today wearing her niqab)

As Sikhs, our Gurus have taught us to fight for a world that is inclusive of all ways of life, even if they aren’t necessarily in line with our way of life.  Guru Tegh Bahadur gave up his life to defend Kashmiri Hindu Brahmins’ right to exist, even while Brahminical caste ideology is antithetical to Sikhi.

But at the end of the day, I think this is more about good, old-fashioned, state-sanctioned racism, cloaked in a liberal, securalist politics, than anything.  I wonder how Sikhs in France are responding to the niqab ban and if they see it as a part of the same racist rationale that has challenged the Sikh identity in France.  Or if instead colonialism’s divide and conquer methodology continues to be effective in this situation of religious minorities in France.

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59 Responses to “French Niqab Ban in Action”

  1. BIk says:

    As usual you are the most inconsistent writer on this blog. A few weeks ago you complained about Sikhs not eating halal meat and went against the rehat maryada citing reason of unity and interfaith understanding. Can you now equally give the same sanctimonious advice to the Muslim community in France and ask that they get rid of their niqabs for the same reasons?

  2. Harinder says:

    France is a indeependent soverign country.
    It is well with in its right to draft rules for its citizens.
    If you dont like the rules then the answer is simple :–


    French men are not coming to Punjab and telling SIKHS not to wear Turbans .

  3. Navdeep Singh Dhillon says:

    I agree and also think that Sikhs should adhere to their rules and shave their beards and take off their turbans, or leave the country. France is an independent, sovereign country afterall. Unlike the United States, Canada, or the United Kingdom, which is governed by . . . . That was sarcasm incidentally.

  4. Random Singh says:

    You are saying people should shave their beards, cut their hair if they want to live in France? Never have Sikhs at any point of time ever said that they would allow anyone to not follow their religious beliefs. Guru Teg Bahadur died so that Hindus could practice their religion. The world would be a lot different if the Gurus had decided to become Hindus or Muslims rather than dying for their beliefs, or the beliefs of others..

    Think about that

  5. Random Singh says:

    I wasn't talking about Navdeep Singh, I was talking about Harinder.

  6. Slackersingh says:

    Guru Tegh Bahadur gave up his life to defend Kashmiri Hindu Brahmins’ right to exist, even while Brahminical caste ideology is antithetical to Sikhi.

    That was an issue of religious freedom. The niquab is not religious at all. Nobody is stopping muslims females from wearing the hijab. More so, will you people please stop framing this debate in the context of a civil rights issue. We all know the french ban is a strike against what the Niquab is REPRESENTATIVE of, and not the covering itself so much. It is very telling when Muslim religious organizations themselves (atleast the ones in Canada) are SUPPORTING the ban. Let me state that I am OPPOSED to the idea of the French banning crosses, turbans, hijabs etc. This, however, is an entirely different beast all together. It is an action for which I applaud the French and hope that others follow suit quickly.

    Moreover, enough is enough. This archaic form of dress needs to go. As for our Sikhi duty to defend the rights of others….well, if you perceive this as a right worth fighting for, then you have drunk the religious Kool-Aid. It's issues like these that hide under the guise of religion and thus are afforded a ridiculous degree of protection that any common sense human being would be opposed to. It's no wonder that religion is a dying commodity when it perpetuates/protects foolishness such as this. Thank God 😉 for that.

  7. Slackersingh says:

    As Sikhs, our Gurus have taught us to fight for a world that is inclusive of all ways of life, even if they aren’t necessarily in line with our way of life.

    Hmm….looks like I'll sit back and wait for an article to pop up on here about how we should support the implementation of Sharia law for Muslims living in Western countries. It's funny because Sharia law is more of a religious issue than the Niquab is and we of course must defend other religions rights no matter how ridiculous they may be. Cmon people, we must have some consistency in our hypocrisy after all.

  8. hena says:

    no government should tell its citizens what they can wear or not wear. this is blatant racism and discrimination by the french government to further marginalize and demonize the muslim community and faith. boooo.

  9. harinder says:

    The lesson of history being read in a wrong context by some TLH wrtiers :–

    When the Nazis came for the communists,
    I remained silent;
    I was not a communist.

    When they locked up the social democrats,
    I remained silent;
    I was not a social democrat.

    When they came for the trade unionists,
    I did not speak out;
    I was not a trade unionist.

    When they came for the Jews,
    I remained silent;
    I wasn't a Jew.

    French men are not NAZIS .
    They are only trying to prevent implementaion of "SHARIA " in France .

  10. Random Singh says:


    The rest of your poem there…

    Then they came for me
    and there was no one left to speak out for me.

    So who will be there for you? If we are not there for others, there will be no where there for us…..

    As Sikhs, we are to fight injustice against all… don't forget that the Gurus are martyrs so that OTHERS can practice their faith and beliefs.

    And the irony of it all… the Gurus died so that those who were opressing Sikhs could still practice their faith…

  11. Harinder says:

    Please carry out your fight also in

    Afghanistan and Paksitan

    Then come and preach .

    I dont like living under “SHARIA ” for sure.

  12. moorakh88 says:

    This all has to do with immigration control. France is blaming their high unemployment rate on anyone black or brown, whom they consider to have lower IQs. The proportions of Muslims in France is 8% , compared to 0.55% in the USA. Since it is not required to be legal to have access to the education and health systems, many immigrate there. Of all Europe, France has one of the largest Muslim population (over 5 million), mostly of Algerian and Moroccan origin. Moreover, France considers its way to be more enlightened, and assimilation is the core of its culture. They don’t give a damn if you wear a turban or a niqab. They want to take it off. This whole assimilation idea is backfiring. You take a person’s religious freedom, you take away self-determination, which is what they want. If you don’t like it, move. They want to curb the influx of immigration.

    And what’s with the Sharia law paranoia? In India, female infanticide, dowry and honor killings, drug and alcohol abuse are rampant. Human rights violations are everywhere. Some will label it as Sharia and others with a different name. I say down and get rid of them all, not just Sharia.

  13. brooklynwala says:

    here's an interesting debate between two muslim women on the subject well worth watching:

  14. harinder says:

    Sharia and what it means to non muslims :–

    1) Islam commands that drinkers and gamblers should be whipped
    ((Bukhari, Punishments, nos. 6774—6775) :–

    Sikhs would land up getting whipped daily under Sharia.

    2) Islam commands that a male and female thief must have a hand cut off (Quran :5:38)
    3) Islam allows an injured plaintiff to exact legal revenge—physical eye for physical eye(Quran :5:45)
    4) Islam commands that homosexuals must be executed
    5) Islam orders unmarried fornicators to be whipped and adulterers to be stoned to death
    6) Islam orders death for Muslim and possible death for non—Muslim critics of Muhammad and the Quran and even sharia itself
    7) Islam orders apostates to be killed
    8)Islam commands offensive and aggressive and unjust jihad
    Women and children are enslaved. They can either be sold, or the Muslims may 'marry' the women, since their marriages are automatically annulled upon their capture. (2) Jihadists may have sex with slave women.

  15. moorakh88 says:

    no; just internet can be useful

  16. Dosanjh says:

    Ah…the French. Not the sharpest tools in the box. A first world country in which third world politics is played. If you read the wording of the actual ban you'll see it is a law against the wearing of the burqua (full face veil). And now guess how many women in France wear the burqua ? ……Zero. Zilch. Not a sausage. None. A big fat '0' !!!! Only a country like France (and Belgium is very much like France) would go through all the effort of passing a law which by defenition affects absolutely nobody….but as a convenient by-product can be used to affect the grand total of 1500 women. 1500 women out of a total of 30 million women. Clever move by Sarkozy. By the time a British muslim woman takes the matter up with the European Court of Justice on the grounds of the French flouting her right to free movement and the ECJ consequently rule the French in breach….the French elections will be over and sarkozy would've picked up the fascist votes he needs. Third world politics in a first world country.

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  20. Sher says:

    "Guru Tegh Bahadur gave up his life to defend Kashmiri Hindu Brahmins’ right to exist, even while Brahminical caste ideology is antithetical to Sikhi"

    Both of these assertions are highly debatable.

    ਧਰਮ ਹੇਤਿ ਸਾਕਾ ਜਿਨਿ ਕੀਆ ॥ ਸੀਸੁ ਦੀਆ ਪਰ ਸਿਰਰੁ ਨ ਦੀਆ ॥

    For the sake of Dharma, he sacrificed himself. He laid down his head but not his creed.

    GTB has himself written that his 'Dharma' is Hinduism. The other definition of dharma is "righteous' way of life. Nowhere in ANY Sikh scripture, we see the mention of "Sikh Dharma". So why drag KPs in this equation?

  21. Sher says:

    @pnrk, point is? pls read my post again, i said "Sikh Dharma" as in ਧਰਮ ਹੇਤਿ ਸਾਕਾ ਜਿਨਿ ਕੀਆ ॥ ਸੀਸੁ ਦੀਆ ਪਰ ਸਿਰਰੁ ਨ ਦੀਆ ॥ not just 'Sikh'

  22. pnrk says:

    Gurbani clearly states a GurSikh has nothing to do with either Hinduism or Mohamedanism:
    "Ram Rahim Puran Kuran anek kahain mat ek na manyo".

    Pakistan was the first to recognize Anand Karaj – India recognizing Anand Karaj is too little too late.

    The consequence of the atrocities of 1984 will be Khalistan – illiterate traitors betrayed us in 1947 when the subcontinent was divided on religious lines.

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