Target: François Hollande, President of France
Goal: Stop the police humiliation of women wearing face-covering veils
Recently, when French police stopped a woman to perform an identity check and fine her for wearing a veil that covered her face—a misdemeanor punishable by a fine in the French legal system—they also allegedly pushed her mother over the hood of the police cruiser. French President François Hollande should propose a modification in the French law so that the police do not humiliate women who they stop and fine for wearing face-covering veils.
While the existing French laws justify the intervention of the police on the basis of a hidden face, there is no reason for police officers to shove and grab the women they interrogate. No person should suffer physical aggression during an identity check triggered by wearing traditional religious clothes. This sort of disproportionate response by law enforcement to what is simply an attire violation makes members of the Muslim minority feel singled out and discriminated against in their home country.
One of the intentions of The Act Prohibiting Concealment of the Face in Public Space, a law in effect since April 2011, was to empower Muslim women participate in the public life of French society by counteracting the tendency of certain fringes of Islam to deny their freedom to show their face outside the home. However, the enforcement of the law has had the negative consequence of inflicting violence upon women through intrusive and forceful interrogation tactics. It should therefore be modified to prohibit the police from inappropriately touching the women they interrogate.
This instance of such police behavior occurred in the Parisian suburb of Trappes located in the department of Yvelines. In this case, the officers’ overreaction during a routine check brought about unintended consequences. Caught up in the throes of anger at the mistreatment of his young wife’s mother who was shoved against the hood of the police cruiser, her son-in-law began arguing with an officer, and then, according to police accounts, throttled him. The equally outraged mother reacted angrily as well as she supposedly hit one of the other officers with a stroller. While we cannot condone these actions of the mother and son-in-law, their off-the-cuff reaction wouldn’t have happened had the police treated the family with the respect that they deserve.
By signing this petition, you will show your support for respectful interrogations of French Muslim women who wear face-covering veils.
Dear President François Hollande,
Please take the initiative of modifying the French law prohibiting women from fully covering their face with the additional stipulation that police officers are prohibited from engaging in excessively intrusive interrogation tactics.
As the goal of France is making sure that these women uncover their faces in order to become fully-active participants of French society who aren’t excluded from communication and interaction with the rest of the country, it is counterproductive to turn them into targets of humiliating police interrogations. That will only serve to further isolate them from French society as it will make them feel like unwanted, second-class citizens who can’t freely walk around in the streets without being stopped and inappropriately touched by a hostile police force.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Darrell J. Rohl via Flickr