Friday 18 August 2017

Nothing excuses the horror of Nice, but France's burqa ban alienates Muslims

Burning candles, messages and a drawing pay tribute to victims of the truck attack along the Promenade des Anglais on Bastille Day that killed scores and injured as many in Nice. Photo: Pascal Rossignol/Reuters
Burning candles, messages and a drawing pay tribute to victims of the truck attack along the Promenade des Anglais on Bastille Day that killed scores and injured as many in Nice. Photo: Pascal Rossignol/Reuters
Mary Kenny

Mary Kenny

There will be many experts with many analyses of just why France is now the main target for Islamist atrocities, like the horrific event that occurred in Nice last Thursday night. But one theory advanced by the BBC's experienced security expert Frank Gardner is that the banning of the burqa - that full-cover garment some Muslim women wear - is a focus of alienation among France's five million Muslims.

The French parliament passed the law "prohibiting concealment of the face in a public space" in 2010, with wide support from the public and only one dissenting parliamentary voice. This followed another law prohibiting all religious symbols in schools (enacted in 2004), but drawing on legislation a century older and aimed, in 1905, at closing Catholic schools.

The 2004 update of banning religious symbols in education means that Islamic veils, headscarves and turbans are unacceptable in public institutions and schools, in particular, must subscribe to "a charter for secularism".

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