France’s Niqab Ban Violates Human Rights, UN Committee Rules

The United Nations Human Rights Committee ruled last week that France’s banning of the niqab, an Islamic veil that covers the entire body except for the eyes, is a violation of human rights.

The case involved two Muslim French women who were fined in France for wearing the full-body veil, which breached a 2010 law passed in the European country that made it a crime to “wear any article of clothing intended to conceal the face” in public.

The UN court found that the law violated the two Muslim women’s freedom of religion and disproportionality harmed the women by risking that they could not leave the house for fear of being seen without their religious wear.

Moreover, the international human rights committee found that the French government adequately argued why the ban of the niqab was a benefit to the public.

France’s original argument, which was laid out in the 2010 legislation that stated that the ban on face-concealing clothing was necessary from a security standpoint, did not satisfy the UN body.

While the committee did state that country’s could ban face-concealing wear in certain limited circumstances for identification, they said that France’s ban was far too sweeping.

Ultimately, the court said, the general criminal ban against the niqab did not reasonably balance the public interest with individual rights.

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