France is home to the largest Muslim population in Europe, comprising six percent of the French population, making Islam the second most practiced religion in France. With an influx of Muslim immigrants, France struggles with concerns over its national identity and culture. In 2009, the French government began to consider a ban on the face veil, or burqa, in public. Critics accused France of discrimination and Islamophobia, while officials calling for such a ban defended it on constitutional grounds: secularism and a belief that the burqa represents gender discrimination. On September 14, 2010, the French Senate approved the bill to ban women from wearing the veil in public and with the approval of the Constitutional Council, the law will go into effect in the Spring of 2011. This Note calls on the European Court of Human Rights to depart from its history of deference to Member State governments regarding issues of religious expression; instead, the court should ensure that any decision to restrict religious expression in France through a burqa ban does not violate the European Convention on Human Rights.
Britton D. Davis,
Lifting the Veil: France’s New Crusade,
B.C. Int'l & Comp. L. Rev.