Anti-burkini law un­con­sti­tu­tional, says min­is­ter

The Myanmar Times - - World -

IT would be “un­con­sti­tu­tional” for France to pass a law ban­ning the burkini and such a move could cause ir­repara­ble harm, French In­te­rior Min­is­ter Bernard Cazeneuve warned in an in­ter­view pub­lished on­line.

Speak­ing to French daily La Croix, Mr Cazeneuve re­it­er­ated the gov­ern­ment’s op­po­si­tion to leg­is­lat­ing on the con­tro­ver­sial mat­ter which has sparked fierce de­bate both at home and abroad about women’s rights and France’s strictly guarded sec­u­lar­ism.

Around 30 coastal re­sorts have banned women from wear­ing the full-body swimwear on their beaches, al­though France’s high­est ad­min­is­tra­tive court on Au­gust 26 over­turned the mea­sure in one town, in a rul­ing likely to set a le­gal prece­dent which will af­fect the oth­ers.

Right-wing fig­ures are push­ing for a na­tion­wide ban to be writ­ten into law, led by former pres­i­dent Ni­co­las Sarkozy who this week launched his bid to re­gain the pres­i­dency in next year’s elec­tion.

But Mr Cazeneuve ruled out any such move.

“As the prime min­is­ter has said, the gov­ern­ment re­fuses to leg­is­late on the mat­ter be­cause any such law would be un­con­sti­tu­tional, in­ef­fec­tive, and likely to cre­ate an­tag­o­nism and ir­repara­ble ten­sion,” he said.

“How­ever, Mus­lims must con­tinue to en­gage with us over gen­der equal­ity,” he said.

France has been hit by a string of Is­lamist at­tacks over the past 18 months, rais­ing ques­tions over se­cu­rity fail­ures and re­sult­ing in a spike in Is­lam­o­pho­bia.

In the lat­est in­stance of in­ter­cul­tural ten­sions, a restau­rant owner in the Paris sub­urb of Trem­blay-en-France is fac­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion af­ter chas­ing two veiled Mus­lim women out of his premises on Au­gust 27.

His ac­tions, caught on video, pro­voked a fu­ri­ous re­sponse and prompted prose­cu­tors to open an in­quiry.

The in­ci­dent, filmed by one of the two women and posted on­line, shows the other say­ing, “We don’t want to be served by racists.”

The restau­ra­teur re­sponds: “Racists like me don’t plant bombs and don’t kill peo­ple.”

He added, “Ter­ror­ists are Mus­lim and all Mus­lims are ter­ror­ists. I don’t want peo­ple like you in my place. Now you can get out.”

The boss of Le Ce­na­cle restau­rant later apol­o­gised for his ac­tions as calls to boy­cott his es­tab­lish­ment flooded social me­dia sites.

Mr Cazeneuve lashed out the op­po­si­tion for try­ing to earn po­lit­i­cal points from the burkini con­tro­versy at a time when the coun­try has been rat­tled by a string of deadly at­tacks claimed by Is­lamic State mil­i­tants.

“Cer­tain op­po­si­tion lead­ers are mak­ing a lot of noise. They think that in the cur­rent con­text of ter­ror threats, we can aban­don the fun­da­men­tal prin­ci­ples of law as em­bod­ied in the con­sti­tu­tion,” he said, warn­ing that such a move would be “a se­ri­ous mis­take”. – EGYPT’S gov­ern­ment will ask par­lia­ment to ap­prove a draft law that would in­crease jail terms for those who per­form fe­male cir­cum­ci­sion.

Fe­male cir­cum­ci­sion, or fe­male gen­i­tal mu­ti­la­tion (FGM), was banned in Egypt in 2008.

But the prac­tice in­volv­ing the par­tial or full re­moval of the ex­ter­nal sex or­gans, os­ten­si­bly to con­trol women’s sex­u­al­ity, re­mains wide­spread, es­pe­cially in ru­ral ar­eas.

In Egypt, the pro­ce­dure is prac­tised by both Mus­lims and Chris­tians. Un­der the cur­rent law, those who per­form FGM can be sen­tenced to jail terms of be­tween three months and two years.

But the bill which the gov­ern­ment hopes par­lia­ment will en­dorse would see those con­victed of fe­male cir­cum­ci­sion jailed for be­tween five and seven years.

The gov­ern­ment also pro­poses that those con­victed be given jail terms with hard labour if the pro­ce­dure leads to the death or per­ma­nent phys­i­cal dis­abil­ity of the women be­ing cir­cum­cised.

FGM can cause life­long pain, in­clud­ing ex­treme dis­com­fort dur­ing sex­ual in­ter­course, se­ri­ous com­pli­ca­tions dur­ing child­birth and psy­cho­log­i­cal trauma.

The gov­ern­ment bill also calls for any­one who forces a fe­male to un­der­take the pro­ce­dure to be jailed for be­tween one and three years.

FGM is also prac­tised in other African coun­tries as well as in parts of the Mid­dle East, and is usu­ally car­ried out by women. –

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