By Arab News
By Mariam Nihal
There was mixed reaction among women in the Kingdom to a ban on niqab that went into effect in France on Monday.
Paris police arrested two veiled women and several other people protesting in front of Notre Dame cathedral against the new law. On Saturday, 59 people were arrested, including 19 veiled women, during a banned protest in Paris against the new law.
Under the law, anyone refusing to lift a veil for an identity check can be persuaded to remove the garment at a police station. A woman who is defiant and insists on appearing veiled in public can be fined 150 euros ($216) and will be ordered to attend re-education classes.
Samia Abdullah, a 24-year-old journalist in Jeddah, was indignant: “Doesn’t France have freedom of religion in its law structure? There should be freedom to practice every religion and I do not see a reason behind this infuriating racial profiling.”
Thirty-year-old Sarah Kazim, a housewife, believes everyone should respect the law of the land. “If women are made to dress a different way and wear their hijab in Saudi Arabia and we respect it, then we should respect the laws of the French constitution. Why treat them differently when we have laws that are most distinct to any other country?”
Reema Jabak, a 27-year-old teacher, said: “It is understandable they want to eliminate any security threats, except that they should have security check points to search women wearing a veil, not ban their right to practice their religious beliefs altogether.”
Marketing executive Seema Nahdi, 35, warned against overreaction. “There is an identity crisis with the veil, you do not know who you are facing. It could be a man disguised or a potential threat. It is a different paradigm. People need to look at it from a political perspective and not strain it with emotional melodrama,” she said.
Samah Ahmed, a 42-year-old mother in Riyadh, was outraged. She called the ban blasphemy. “How dare they take away our right to protect and practice our religion? Yes, this means my daughters cannot travel to France anymore but that is fine. We will not bow down to the injustice they dole out to us. It is time they treat women with respect,” she said.