Wearing niqab in France could cost up to $2,200

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.


BBC’s verdict on 7/7 conspiracy theories

I happened to be watching BBC World News last evening and fell upon a rerun of a show called the Conspiracy Files. This episode was about the July 7, 2005 transit bombings in London.

“The programme sees how conspiracy theories suggest four British Muslims were framed by the government, play on the fears of the Muslim community and spread a highly divisive and damaging message.

“The Conspiracy Files: 7/7 examines the evidence in an attempt to separate fact from fiction.”

Although some or a lot of the reporting may be factual, it’s clear the BBC is on a mission to refute an Internet documentary entitled 7/7 Ripple Effect. The problem is that by showing a clear bias, the BBC sheds its own credibility on the issue. Most inquiring minds who at least partially believe that something could be amiss won’t likely be convinced by hearing denials or clarifications from the very people who are involved or implicated.

This type of reporting does no good. The doubters continue to doubt and their mistrust has likely grown (including for the BBC), while those who believe the conspiracy theorists are nutcases have their belief reinforced.

It’s true that the BBC had little to go on. But it could at least acknowledge some of the points of the conspiracy theorists without blowing off an aroma of total contempt, instead of simply offering the other half of the story 7/7 Ripple Effect missed.