Anti-burkini law unconstitutional, says minister
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. –