France’s ban on wearing a burqa in public does not breach human rights laws, the European Court of Human Rights ruled today.
The Grand Chamber of 17 judges ruled by a majority that the law, which came into force in April 2011, did not breach Articles 8 (respect for private and family life) or 9 (respect for freedom of thought) of the European Convention on Human Rights.
It ruled unanimously that there had been no violation of Article 14 (prohibition on discrimination).
The court said that the measure was ‘not expressly based’ on religious grounds, but ‘solely’ on the fact that it concealed the face.
It said the French state’s argument that it promoted citizens’ ‘living together’ was a legitimate aim.
The case, S.A.S, concerned an unnamed 24-year-old French national who is a devout Muslim.
In her submissions to the court, she said that she wore the burqa and niqab in accordance with her religious faith, culture and convictions.
She emphasised that neither her husband nor any member of her family put pressure on her to do so and that, although she did not always dress in that manner, she wished to be able to wear the burqa when she chose to do so.