Sat10252014

Last update11:55:42 AM GMT

Font Size

Layout

Settings
Back Activities Alerts ACTION ALERT: Bosnia – Bosnian Parliament is to ban the face veil

ACTION ALERT: Bosnia – Bosnian Parliament is to ban the face veil

  • PDF
Share/Save/Bookmark

The Bosnian Central Parliament is to discuss a new law proposed by the Bosnian Serb Party of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD) on 1st September 2010 to ban the face veil for which Muslim women have held a protest outside the Central Parliament in Sarajevo.

Contents
1. Summary
2. Background
3. Action required
4. Sample letter


1. Summary

The Bosnian Central Parliament is to discuss a new law proposed by the Bosnian Serb Party of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD) on 1st September 2010 to ban the face veil for which Muslim women have held a protest outside the Central Parliament in Sarajevo. IHRC is asking its activists to write to the President of Bosnia and Herzegovina to ask him to urge Bosnian parliamentarians to veto the bill on the face veil.

2. Background

In April 2010, the SNSD sent a proposed bill to the Bosnian Central Assembly “to ban clothes that prevent identification”. The Parliament had earlier scheduled the discussion for July but when a veiled female human rights activist attended the parliamentary session as an observer, the discussion was postponed until 1st September 2010.

Muslim Bosnian activists have been campaigning against the proposed ban under the slogan ''Our Niqab, Our Choice, Our Right''. They argue that it would take away their religious freedom and further exacerbate the situation by possibly leading to a ban on the headscarf.

A possible ban will alienate face veiled women from the society by imposing a 24 hour curfew on them. The bill proposes a fine of 50 Euros for women who violate the ban.

France and Syria have already banned the face veil in recent moves. The Netherlands and Belgium are also planning to impose a ban of the face veil soon.

Considering the fact that only a handful of Bosnian women wear the face veil, the move is a rather strong indication of increasing trend of Islamophobia that has been enforced by intolerant, racist and fascist political groups.

IHRC believes that according to international human rights law, specifically article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) the freedom to manifest religion and belief individually or with others is protected and considered fundamental to freedom of expression. Article 26 of the ICCPR outlines the right to non discrimination on the grounds of religion. Article 20 of the ICCPR states that international human rights law protects people against the promotion of religious hatred which amounts to incitement of discrimination, hostility or violence. Therefore, various legal expert and human rights organisations deem this move to be in breach of the aforementioned articles and international laws.

As well as upholding the aforementioned human rights treatises, the government would have to outline why the ban is necessary, in order for it to be lawful. According to international human rights law, a government can only enforce such a ban when a three step process is met: they must be prescribed by law; they must address a specific legitimate purpose permitted by international law; and must also be demonstrably necessary and proportionate for that purpose. Since there is no causal link between security risks and a woman wearing the niqab, the ban is baseless. The European Court of Human Rights states the right to freedom of expression includes forms of expression “that offend, shock or disturb the state or any section of the population”. Therefore regardless of negative public opinion, the government has not presented sufficient evidence to ban the niqab.

The Islamic Human Rights Commission is alarmed by the widespread anti-Islamic rhetoric by various European governments that are now translating into policy which causes a fear of hate crime being on the rise as a result.

3. Action required

Write to President of Bosnia and Herzegovina to ask him to urge Bosnian parliamentarians to veto the bill on the veil:

Address: Predsjedništvo BiH
Titova 16, 71000 Sarajevo

Fax:        + 387 33 555 620


4. Sample letter
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

A sample letter is given below for your convenience. Please note that model letters can be sent directly or adjusted as necessary to include further details. If you receive a reply to the letter you send, we request you to send a copy of the letter you sent and the reply you received to IHRC. This is very important as it helps IHRC to monitor the situation with regards to our campaigns and to improve upon the current model letters. It is preferable that letters be sent via post, or otherwise by fax and/or email.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sample letter to President of Bosnia and Herzegovina Haris Silajdžić
Titova 16, 71000 Sarajevo


[Your name]
[Your address]


Predsjedništvo BiH
Titova 16, 71000 Sarajevo

[Date]

Your Excellency Haris Silajdžić

President of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Re: Bosnian Parliament is set to ban the veil

I am disappointed to know that on the 1st of September 2010, Bosnian Central Parliament is to discuss a new law proposed by the Bosnian Serb Party of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD) to ban the veil.

I believe that a veil ban would undermine the religious freedom of Muslim women. A possible ban will alienate face veiled women from the society by imposing a 24-hour curfew on them. Considering the fact that only a handful of Bosnian women wear the face veil, the move is a strong indication of an increasing trend of Islamophobia that has been enforced by intolerant, racist and fascist political movements.

Your Excellency, according to international human rights law, specifically article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) the freedom to manifest religion and belief individually or with others is protected and considered fundamental to freedom of expression. Article 26 of the ICCPR outlines the right to non discrimination on the grounds of religion. Article 20 of the ICCPR states that international human rights law protects people against the promotion of religious hatred which amounts to incitement of discrimination, hostility or violence. Therefore, various legal expert and human rights organisations deem this move to be in breach of the aforementioned articles and international law.

As well as upholding the aforementioned human rights treatises, the government would have to outline why the ban is necessary, in order for it to be lawful. According to international human rights law, a government can only enforce such a ban when a three step process is met: they must be prescribed by law; they must address a specific legitimate purpose permitted by international law; and must also be demonstrably necessary and proportionate for that purpose. Since there is no causal link between security risks and a woman wearing the niqab, the ban is baseless. The European Court of Human Rights states the right to freedom of expression includes forms of expression “that offend, shock or disturb the state or any section of the population”. Therefore regardless of negative public opinion, the government has not presented sufficient evidence to ban the niqab.

Your Excellency, Bosnia and Herzegovina has a very good reputation amongst the Muslim world and many Muslims feel a great sympathy and respect for your country.  Imposing such a draconian ban will tarnish this image. Therefore, I have utmost confidence that your office will convince the members of the Parliament that banning the face veil will bring no benefit.

I look forward to your reply regarding this urgent matter.

Yours sincerely,


[Your signature]
[Your name]

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

For more information, please contact the office on the numbers or email below

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

IHRC is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.

Please help IHRC by visiting http://www.ihrc.org.uk/catalog and making a donation or buying an item from our on-line store.

If you want to subscribe to the IHRC list please send an email to subscribe@ihrc.org

If you want to unsubscribe from the IHRC list please send an email from your subscribed email address to unsubscribe@ihrc.org

If you are reusing this alert, please cite the source.

For more information, please contact the office on the numbers or email below.

"And what reason have you that you should not fight in the way of Allah and of the weak among the men and the women and the children, (of) those who say: Our Lord! Cause us to go forth from this town, whose people are oppressors, and give us from Thee a guardian and give us from Thee a helper."
Holy Qur'an: Chapter 4, Verse 75

Join the Struggle for Justice. Join IHRC.

Islamic Human Rights Commission
PO Box 598
Wembley
HA9 7XH
United Kingdom

Telephone (+44) 20 8904 4222
Fax (+44) 20 8904 5183
Email: info@ihrc.org
Web: www.ihrc.org

Don't be a Silent Victim

silent-victimHave you been verbally abused, harassed, discriminated against or even violently attacked because you are Muslim? Have you been mistreated by the police or security services or a victim of anti-terror laws? Click here to report your incident to us in confidence and, if you wish, anonymously.If you are looking for counselling instead of or as well as case support you can also visit Faith Counselling.