4 Inter-Am. & Eur. Hum. Rts. J. 155 (2011)
The Veil of the Ban: A Legal, Social & Political Discourse

handle is hein.journals/intereur4 and id is 155 raw text is: THE VEIL OF THE BAN: A LEGAL,
SOCIAL & POLITICAL DISCOURSE
JACLYN GIFFEN*
1. INTRODUCTION
Religious freedom, privacy, personal identity, expression, choice versus the state's
interest in public safety, security, values of a democratic society, equality, non-
discrimination, and secularism; these issues are all in play in the debate surrounding
the ban on face coverings in public spaces, including the Muslim burqa and niqab,
that has emerged within Europe. The first country to implement such a public space
banning law was in France in April 2011, prohibiting full face veils. This was followed
by Belgium in July 2011, which besides a fine also provides for up to seven days of
imprisonment for women wearing such a dress. Other countries, such as Italy,
Denmark, Netherlands and Switzerland are all demanding similar methods.1
However, attempts in Spain to ban the burqa and other full face veils were rejected
by Spain's lower house of Parliament in July 2011, as there were concerns that
regulation of the burqa could lead to regulation of other religious symbols.2 It is still
unclear whether these new laws are in compliance with international human rights
law, and specifically, the European Convention on Human Rights [the Convention or
ECHR]. However, as the case of opposition to these laws will soon be brought to the
European Court of Human Rights [the Court or ECtHR], which is the final court of
appeal in Europe for human rights issues, and administers violations of the
Convention, the legality of these laws will thus be imminently determined.
Jaclyn Giflen is a student from Ottawa, Canada, currently completing her law (juris doctor) and
master's (international affairs) degrees concurrently at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of
Common Law and the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs. She has a passion for
human and women's rights, and hopes to work further on these issues in the European Union.
Jaclyn thanks her family and her husband, Adam, for all their support.
Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights, Penalising women who wear the burqa does not
liberatethem (20July2011) CouncilofEurope,Pressrelease -CommDH0l5(2011), <https:/,,wcd.coe.int/
ViewDoc Jsp?id=1815253&Site=DC> [Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights].
A. Riley, Spain lower house rejects proposal to ban burqa Jurist Legal News & Research (21 July
2010), Paper Chase Newsburst, <http://jurist.org/paperchase/20s10,07/spain-lower-house-rejects-
proposal-to -ban-burqa.php>.

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