The European Court of Human Rights has upheld a French law that bans wearing full-face covering veils, known as burqas and niqabs for Muslims, in public and a variety of other places.
The case was brought to the court by a 24-year-old French-Muslim woman, identified only by her initials SAS, who argued that the ban on wearing the veil in public violated her freedom of religion and was “degrading treatment,” France24 reported.
In a majority ruling, the European Court’s Grand Chamber declared that the law did not violate Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects one’s right to privacy, and Article 9, which protects freedom of thought, conscience, and religion.
The French law, which forbids anyone to hide his or her face in a number of places, including on the street, went into effect in April 2011. France has Europe’s largest Muslim population.
France, despite its overwhelming Catholic majority, is an officially secular country, where even overt religious symbols are banned in state schools.