French women cause a stir in niqab and hot pants in anti-burka ban protest
By Henry Samuel in Paris
01 Oct 2010
Two French female students have made a film of the pair of them strolling through the streets of Paris in a niqab, bare legs and mini-shorts as a critique of France’s recently passed law.
Calling themselves the “Niqabitches,” the veiled ladies can be seen strutting past prime ministerial offices and various government ministries with a black veil leaving only their eyes visible, but with their long legs naked bar black high heels.
Bemused passers-by can be seen gawping at the pair or asking to take photographs in the clip.
At one stage in the film, the two women approach the entrance to the ministry of immigration and national identity, only to be told by a policeman to go elsewhere. However, a policewoman also present is delighted by their clothes. “I love your outfit, is it to do with the new law?” she asks. “Yes, we want to de-dramatise the situation,” one girl replies. “It’s brilliant. Can I take a photo?” asks the policewoman, who will soon be required to fine public niqab wearers.
In an opinion piece published on the news website, rue89, the anonymous duo – political science and communication students in their twenties – said the film was a tongue-in-cheek way of criticising France’s niqab ban, which the Senate passed last month and is due to go into force early next year.
“To put a simple burka on would have been too simple. So we asked ourselves: ‘how would the authorities react when faced with women wearing a burka and mini-shorts?,” asked the students, one of whom is a Muslim.
“We were not looking to attack or degrade the image of Muslim fundamentalists – each to their own – but rather to question politicians who voted for this law that we consider clearly unconstitutional,” they said.
“To dictate what we wear appears to have become the role of the State (as if they didn’t have other fish to fry …).”
The film had been viewed 71,000 times on rue89 and a few hundred times on YouTube yesterday, but French websites predicted it would become an internet sensation.
France’s law banning the burka makes no mention of Islam, but President Nicolas Sarkozy’s government promoted the law as a means to protect women from being forced to wear Muslim full-face veils such as the burka or the niqab.
France’s five-million-strong Muslim minority is Western Europe’s largest, but fewer than 2,000 women are believed actually to wear a full face veil.
Once the law is in force, a woman who chooses to defy the ban will receive a fine of 150 euros (£125) or a course of citizenship lessons. A man who forces a woman to go veiled will be fined 30,000 euros (£25,000) and serve a jail term.
It could yet be overturned by France’s constitutional court.