The French parliamentary report on the wearing of niqab and burqa in France is now online.
The report estimates there are 1,900 niqabis in France, of which:
- 50% are under age 30
- 90% are under 40
- 66% are French citizens, half of which are 2nd and 3rd generation French
- 25% are converts to Islam
- 41% are Salafis
The report also:
- repeats the myth that the niqab is a non-Islamic practice
- attempts to study interpretations and evidences of niqab
- suggests the wearing of niqab points towards identity issues and is a sign of radical movements
- admits many young women wear the niqab by choice, primarily for two reasons: “the search for purity in practice of a more austere worship” and secondly “to create distance with a society considered to be perverted.”
There’s also an entire section on Salafism.
The report spends quite a bit of time studying niqab in various countries (north African as well as in the West), including Canada.
“In Canada, we have seen, this issue prospers on the exploitation of the judicial theory of ‘reasonable accommodation rights.’ We have noted though that this judicial notion is being questioned more and more in this country.”
It also discusses Quebec’s Bouchard-Taylor commission on reasonable accommodation and the Ontario court ruling on whether a woman can testify in court wearing niqab.
There’s a discussion on possible punishment for niqabis. The ideas discussed are:
- a maximum fine of 1,500 euros ($2,245 Canadian) for the first offence and a maximum of 3,000 euros ($4,480 Canadian) for repeat offences
- a mandatory course on “rights, history of the Republic, history of feminism and on religions”
Near the end, they try to figure out how they’re actually going to enforce prohibition. In the worst case scenario, if a niqabi refuses to identify herself, thus making it impossible to fine her, she could be taken to a police station and ordered to submit fingerprints and be photographed. If she refuses, she could be found guilty of an offence and fined 3,750 euros ($5,600 Canadian) and be thrown in jail for 3 months.
Tip: If you need translation help in reading the report, try Yahoo Babel Fish. It worked best for me.
UPDATE: The panel behind the report couldn’t agree on whether to call for a total ban on niqab or just ban niqab from public buildings and services, according to Reuters.