Two Arrested In France As Burqa Ban Begins

Two women were arrested in France recently during a demonstration protesting the country’s new ban on certain types of Islamic garb.

Both women were wearing face veils, but police insisted the two were not arrested for that and were instead charged with taking part in an unauthorized protest, CNN reported. The event, which attracted about 60 participants, took place outside Notre Dame Cathedral, one of Paris’ most popular tourist attractions.

“I’ve not committed a crime,” said Hind Amas, a woman who took part in the protest but who was not arrested. “I’m walking peacefully in the street. I’ve not attacked anyone.”

The controversial ban took place April 11. It prohibits Islamic dress that covers the face, including full-body burqas and niqabs, a veil that shrouds the face with a small opening for the eyes. Garments that mask the body but not the face or that cover only the hair and neck are still permitted. The fine for disobeying the ban is 150 euros (about $222).

Officials with the French Interior Ministry say the law is necessary to avoid difficulties in case police need to identify people. But critics charge that the country’s conservative president, Nicolas Sarkozy, pushed the ban to appease far-right groups.