French bill banning the burka is wrong

POSTED IN Campaign News, Top Stories 14.07.2010

Diane Abbott MP tables EDM condemning vote in French Parliament.

Diane Abbott MP has expressed her anger at the passing of a vote by French politicians on a bill banning the wearing of garments that cover the face such as the burka. In response Diane tabled an early day motion severely criticising the decision and calling on support to oppose any such bill entering British Parliament.

According to the bill, offenders caught wearing the burka in public will face a €150 fine, whilst men found forcing women to wear a burka will face a one-year jail term and a fine of €30,000 fine. Both offences may also result in compulsory citizenship lessons for the guilty party.

French National Assembly members voted overwhelmingly in favour of the ban by 335 votes to one and the bill will now be passed on to the Senate where it is widely expected to be ratified. However it remains possible that France’s highest court, the Council of State, may deem this bill unconstitutional should it be ratified and passed in September.

Speaking today about the bill, Diane said:

“I am completely appalled that this bill has received such backing from the French National Assembly and find it particularly worrying that this trend for banning the burka has spread across Europe to countries such as Spain, Belgium and ourselves here in the UK”.

“This bill is divisive and contrary to international human rights law. It contravenes basic civil rights such as the freedom of expression and religion. Proponents of this bill are hailing it as a liberating piece of legislation for women and a victory for democracy, but I refuse to agree with these sentiments. This bill is simply an enforcement of French secularist values on a small minority of society, and this is evident in the threat of citizenship classes as punishment”.

“The majority of Muslim women who wear the burka choose to do so out of free will, so to criminalise a religio-cultural practise under the pretence of sexual and religious liberation is completely wrong”.

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