A burqa-clad woman yesterday rather brilliantly exposed a fatal flaw in France's ban on the traditional Muslim garb when she attended court to face a charge of "covering her face in a public place", and then simply refused to take off her burqa for the hearing.
The 31-year-old mum, identified only by her first name Hind, was arrested in Meaux back in May after travelling from Paris for an anti-ban protest. She and fellow defendant Najet were summoned to appear before the local court, and the former took the chance to mount a protest scuppering the proceedings.
While Najet stayed at home since she "knew she would be stopped from entering", as the Telegraph puts it, Hind rolled up to be told by police commissioner Philippe Tireloque: "For the hearing to go ahead, you must remove the veil. Justice must be administered in a calm atmosphere."
Hind replied: "I'll keep my veil on at all times. It's non-negotiable. The law forbids me from expressing myself, and indeed from defending myself. It forces me to dress a certain way, when all I want to do is live according to my religion."
Since cops are under "strict orders" not to remove burqas, the authorities had no choice but to cancel the hearing and send Hind on her way.
Prosecutors are now pondering how to tackle this evidently unforeseen challenge to burqa ban enforcement. If they do manage to get Hind and Najet before the beak, the pair face £140 fines and an order to attend "compulsory citizenship classes".
A more likely outcome, the Telegraph notes, is that the matter will end up before the European Court of Human Rights. ®
Pedantic discussion of correct spelling welqome.