Is Wearing a Face Veil Part of Religious Freedom?

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In a video published by the the Islamic Central Council of Switzerland, a woman dressed in a niqab (face veil) argues that contrary to the ruling of the European Court for Human Rights, it is undemocratic to ban the niqab in public places.

The woman was referring to the ruling by the European Court of Human Rights in July 2017 which upheld Belgium’s ban on clothes that partially or fully cover the face in public. The court ruled such a ban was legal under the European Convention on Human Rights, saying the ban was “necessary in a democratic society.” It further noted the ban protected “the rights and freedoms of others” and was made to guarantee the conditions of “living together.”

“We are part of Europe and part of the public life we participate in equally,” the woman says in the video. “You do not believe it?  Attention! Rules on clothing and the ban of religious acts evoke memories of dark times we do not want to take up again in today’s modern times. There is no space for them in a democratic society. My niqab. My choice.”

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