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  • 23 June 2010 : The Council of Europe and the full veil

On 23 June 2010 the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted a resolution and recommendation entitled ’Islam, Islamism and Islamophobia in Europe’ which mentions, in particular, attempts by certain European governments to regulate the wearing of the full veil. Resolution 1743 (2010) states that, although the wearing of the full veil "could pose a threat to the dignity and freedom of women", "a blanket ban could be counterproductive, by pushing families and the community to put pressure on Muslim women to stay at home. [...] Muslim women would suffer an additional exclusion if they had to leave educational establishments, stay away from public places and give up work outside of their community, so as not to break with their family tradition." In Recommendation 1927 (2010), the Parliamentary Assembly therefore invites Member States to "refrain from adopting a blanket ban on wearing the full veil or other religious clothing, but to protect women against physical and psychological violence and safeguard their free choice to wear or not wear a religious or other particular garment and to ensure that Muslim women have the same possibilities to participate in public life and engage in educational and professional activities".
Thomas Hammarberg, the Council of Europe’s Human Rights Commissioner, added, in an open forum in the press ("Banning the burqa is useless", Le Monde, 27 May 2010) that this type of ban "might go against established human rights norms, in particular the right to privacy and personal identity and the freedom to manifest one’s religion or personal convictions". Even though, in some cases, the public interest requires that people show their faces for reasons of security or for identification purposes, "no one has succeeded in demonstrating that the wearing of the burqa and the niqab represents a danger for democracy and public safety, nor even that it poses a major problem for society".

D 8 July 2010   

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