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An ‘irritated’ veiled female opts to run for French Presidency

Sabir Shah

LAHORE: Just hours after a French court had fined two women on September 22 for refusing to remove veils from their faces, another devout Muslim lady, Kenza Drider, had decided to declare her candidacy for this largest West European nation’s presidential race –owing to what could easily be dubbed sheer resentment.

Kenza’s announcement, basically in defiance of France’s “Burqa Law” of April 2011, has stunned the whole Western media because her pronouncement has come months ahead of the official campaign’s stipulated commencement schedule.

Kenza Drider also hides her face with a forbidden veil, as do some 2,000 women in France, where the probable number of Muslims might be resting between five and six million or eight to 10 percent of the total population. (Reference: The French Ministry of Interior estimation of 2003).

Leading British daily “The Guardian” (September 22 edition) had reported the court fine incident in these words: “A judge in Meaux has fined two French women for wearing the niqab – the first sanction since France banned Islamic full-face veils in April. Hind Ahmas, 32, a single mother from a Paris suburb, and Najate Nait Ali, 36, were handed fines of Ä120 and Ä80 (£105 and £70) respectively. The judge is expected to hand out a full ruling explaining his decision. The fines mark the first time a French court has pronounced on the niqab ban, the controversial law backed by Nicolas Sarkozy that bans women wearing full-face veils from all public places. More than 90 women have been stopped by police but until now, no one had been punished by a court for wearing a face veil.”

Meanwhile, the esteemed US newspaper “The Washington Post” has recently carried a report on the veiled Kenza Drider’s decision to contest the next French presidential election.

“The Washington Post” had carried an Associated Press (AP) story on September 22, stating: “Kenza Drider’s posters for the French presidential race are ready to go, months before the official campaign begins. There she is, the ‘freedom candidate,’ pictured standing in front of a line of police – a forbidden veil hiding her face. Drider declared her long shot candidacy Thursday, the same day that a French court fined two women who refuse to remove their veils. All three are among a group of women mounting an attack on the law that has banned the garments from the streets of France since April, and prompted similar moves in other European countries.”

The leading US newspaper further wrote, “They are bent on proving that the ban contravenes fundamental rights and that women who hide their faces stand for freedom, not submission.”

“When a woman wants to maintain her freedom, she must be bold,” Drider told The Associated Press in an interview. President Nicolas Sarkozy strongly disagrees, and says the veil imprisons women. Polls show that most French people support the ban, which authorities estimate affects fewer than 2,000 women who wore the veil before the ban.

The Washington Post maintained in its report, “Drider declared her candidacy Thursday in Meaux, the city east of Paris run by top conservative lawmaker and Sarkozy ally Jean-Francois Cope, who championed the ban. “I have the ambition today to serve all women who are the object of stigmatisation or social, economic or political discrimination,” she said. “It is important that we show that we are here, we are French citizens and that we, as well, can bring solutions to French citizens.” Two other women arrested wearing veils in Meaux – while trying to deliver a birthday cake to Cope – were fined in court Thursday, one Ä120, the other Ä80.”

The American media outlet further printed: “With Islam the second religion in France and numbers of faithful growing, there are worries that veiled Muslim women could compromise the nation’s secular foundations and undermine gender equality and women’s dignity. There are also concerns that practices like wearing full veils could open the door to a radical form of Islam.

Lawmakers banned Muslim headscarves in classrooms in 2004. Few Muslim women in France cover their faces. Most who veil themselves wear the “niqab,” a filmy cloth attached to the headscarf that covers all but the eyes. The law also affects the burqa, with just a mesh covering over the eyes, worn largely in Afghanistan.”

It added, “Belgium passed a similar face veil ban that took effect in July, and the Netherlands announced Friday it has drawn up legislation to outlaw Muslim face veils. A draft law has been approved in Italy. Flouting the French measure outlawing face veils in all public places can lead to a fine of Ä150 and, in some cases, citizenship classes. However, thus far there have been few legal consequences.”

Source: The News