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Authors

Lauren Gilber

Abstract

In June 2008, the Council of State of France upheld an administrative decision denying French citizenship to a Moroccan national, Faiza Silmi, on the basis that she had not demonstrated "sufficient assimilation" to French values. News reports indicated that Silmi was denied citizenship because she wore the niqab, an Islamic veil that covered her from head to toe, revealing only her eyes. The decision of the Council of State emphasized that the denial was based not only on her attire but also on the fact that she had adopted a "radical" version of Islam "incompatible with essential values of the French community, particularly the principle of equality of the sexes." Fadela Amara, the French Minister of Urban Affairs, who is a practicing Muslim of Algerian descent, supported the decision. She described the niqab as a "prison" and "strait jacket." Amara stated publicly that "[i]t is not a religious insignia but the insignia of a totalitarian political project that promotes inequality between the sexes and is totally lacking in democracy."

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