Since the anti-burqa law (or whatever you want to call it, I can’t anymore) was passed in France, women with “full cover” can be cited for non-compliance, and can be stopped for identity checks. We all remember the story of the polygamous butcher and his many niqab-clad wives gleefully committing welfare fraud. One of his wives was stopped while driving, and it was argued that she was pulled over, not for a traditional traffic offense, but because she was driving with a niqab on (which is why she was stopped). Last month in Marseille another lady, whose only crime up until that point was wearing niqab, was stopped for an identity check and to be cited for wearing niqab in public (an “offense” in France for which you have to pay a fine). This didn’t go down well with her and her entourage, and the story made headlines for after she bit a female police officer ; a similar incident happened recently as well in the northern city of Roubaix.
It is useful to note, as an aside, that France has a long history of abusive identity checks where people who “don’t look French” get checked by police just for existing. So people of certain skin tones or ethnicities would get randomly stopped even before it was legal to be stopped for wearing face covering. Despite being whiter than snow, I got more than my fair share of “identity checks” in hijab and the comments that went along with it, like “we don’t wear headscarves here, this is France.” So the context of these particular events is more complicated in France than it seems on paper. [Read more...]