France Passes a "Burqa Ban"

What does it signify for religious freedom?

This article is from Issue 52: July/Aug 2011

In a move heralded by some citizens and criticized by some human rights groups, France recently banned all coverings that obscure the face in addition to the rest of the head. While officials say it has no religious tie, it’s no coincidence that the law seems to be directed at Muslim women who wear the burqa or the niqab (the burqa is a covering that covers everything from the top of the head to the ground, while the niqab is a head scarf that covers everything but the eyes). France is home to 5 million Muslims, the largest population in Western Europe.