By NVONews.Com Correspondent,
Three Saudi women, who on Monday refused to remove their face veils at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport, returned to Doha on the same night as they were refused entry to France.
The three women arrived at the Paris airport on a Qatar Airways flight from Doha at 2:30 pm on Monday. The police official confirmed they had returned to Doha on Monday evening itself.
Almost a year back a law was enacted by the then Nicolas Sarkozy government banning women from wearing burqa anywhere in public. Even Sikhs were not allowed to wear turban, Christian cross and Jews skull cap in public.
The Saudi women were asked by the border police to remove their veils after they arrived from Doha, Qatar. But when they refused the police returned them the same evening. Reports said that they were turned away at passport control in Charles de Gaulle airport on Monday for flouting France’s controversial law banning anyone from hiding their faces in public.
Those championing the ban say the veil contradicts France’s principles of secularism and women’s rights.
The then President Nicolas Sarkozy described the burqa as a “sign of debasement”. He had then also argued the ban was part of an effort to make France a more tolerant, inclusive society whilst preventing criminals from disguising their faces from security staff and CCTV.
His immigration minister Eric Besson referred to burqa as “a walking coffin”.
France has about 10 per cent Muslim population, especially from North Africa and other Arab countries. The government move was opposed by a large number of Muslim individuals and organizations.
However, Monday’s case is the first instance of Saudi women being sent back from the country’s most important airport just on the plea of not removing their veils.
Many western experts feel that the latest move may come as an obstacle on the way of the opening up of the Saudi society. Now more and more Saudis, both men and women, boys and girls, are coming out to study abroad. Last year alone 1,30,000 of them went to study in universities abroad. Half of them went to the United States. This include a large number of burqa-clad women too.
The strictness with which the French authorities are imposing their new rule on burqa may discourage the Saudi young girls and women from opting for France for higher studies.
In the United States their presence in the campus have elicited debates. Several Saudi girls took part in them.