Burka Laws Ready for NSW

The Australian, August 19, 2011

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Under changes to the Law Enforcement Act, police will be able to require anyone to remove a face covering, including a helmet, burka, niqab or mask, the NSW government said today.

In most cases, the penalty would be a $220 fine, but some cases involving motorists could incur penalties of up to a year in jail and a fine of $5500.

“People will only be required to remove a face covering for as long as it takes to identify them,” NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell said.

“Those who want to be identified privately for cultural and religious reasons can request to go to a police station.”

The government will also give government officials the power to request the removal of face coverings in courts, juvenile detention centres and prisons.

People refusing to comply will be asked to leave the premises or face fines of up to $550.

The new legislation will be introduced in state parliament next week.

“I have every respect for different religions and beliefs but when it comes to enforcing the law, the police should be given adequate powers to make a clear identification,” Mr O’Farrell said.

The changes come after Sydney woman Carnita Matthews was sentenced to six months in jail in November 2010, for falsely accusing a police officer of forcibly trying to remove her burqa.

The case arose after Ms Matthews was pulled over her while driving in Woodbine in June 2010.

But the sentence was quashed in an appeal in June this year, after NSW District Court judge Clive Jeffreys ruled there was no evidence to confirm that it was Ms Matthews who filed the complaint because the person who did so was wearing a veil and could not be positively identified.

The NSW ombudsman will conduct a review of the new laws after 12 months.

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  • Jeddermann.

    Wearing a mask in public in most locales is a crime unless wearing of the mask is part of a gala event. A Halloween costume party or such.

    That it is even necessary to pass such a law in the first place! And that the apologetic tone that some use too when they justify such a law!

  • Snide Commentor

    Carlita Mathews??? HUH??? You’d think it’d be more like “Fel’latia Suq’Ishak Shabazz”…. Good for the Aussies. We need to implement the exact same law here. Even better, ban Islam and its adherents from this country. Their stated objective is to conquer America and force Islam on the population. I think OUR stated objective should be to REMOVE Islam from our nation.

  • Anonymous

    Rachid Nekkaz has set up a million euro fund to pay fines for women who choose to wear the full Islamic veil in countries, like France, where it is against the law to do so in public.

    A French businessman has set up a fund to pay fines for women who wear Islamic veils or the burqa in public “in whatever country in the world that bans women from doing so”.

    Rachid Nekkaz, 38, a real-estate businessman based in Paris, travelled to Belgium on Wednesday to pay 100 euros for two women fined in the first case in the country since the law was adopted there.

    “I’m in favour of a law to convict a husband who forces a women to wear the niqab and who forces her to stay at home. But I’m also for a law that lets these women move freely in the streets, because freedom of movement, just like any freedom, is the most fundamental thing in a democracy, ” Nekkaz told reporters outside the courtroom in Belgium.

    The same day, he paid a 75 euro fine for a woman in the north-eastern French town of Roubaix.

    “I am calling for civil disobedience,” he told FRANCE 24. “I am telling women to not be afraid to go out wearing their veils. And by paying the fines, I am neutering the law, rendering it inefficient and pointless, showing that it doesn’t work. It is a humiliation for the politicians.”

    Despite this initiative, Nekkaz disapproves of the veil. “How can a woman truly integrate or find a job if her face is hidden?” he asked.

    He has taken exception to the law which came into force in France in April 2011, describing it as a strategy for French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his government to win a bigger share of support from far-right voters.

    “This law was 100% politically motivated,” he said. “Sarkozy made a gamble. He knew it was not constitutional, but he went ahead and did it anyway. He knows that if the law ever does get knocked down, it will be well after next year’s election, which he needs to win.”

    Nekkaz has launched a legal challenge in both France and Belgium that he hopes to take to the European Court of Human Rights.

    Nekkaz claims his actions along with efforts from other associations has forced a change in France, where he believes police are now less keen to impose the fines, and are instead taking the women in for questioning.

    “They are afraid of issuing fines because they know that I will simply pay them,” he said. “Instead they subject these women to interrogations, asking them who their parents are, whether they work, whether they have been forced to wear the veil by their husbands.”

    “It is unacceptable that they are victimising innocent women who are going about their daily lives. They are not targeting the real criminals, the men who do not even let their wives leave the house.”

    Nekkaz accused of political opportunism

    Nekkaz, who plans to stand as an independent candidate in next year’s French presidential election, has the support of some women’s groups who are campaigning against the French law.

    But the businessman has been criticised by some associations who accuse him of exploiting the situation for his own political gain.

    “Amazones de la Liberté” is a Paris-based women’s association that is campaigning for the law in France to be completely overturned.

    Association president Lila Citar says Nekkaz is using the issue to attract media attention ahead of his presidential bid next year.

    Her group also objects to him, as a man, trying to champion what Citar says is essentially a feminist cause.

    “Wearing a Niqab is a woman’s choice,” she told FRANCE 24. “It is precisely because of the supposed manipulation by men that politicians say they object to women wearing a full veil.

    “Nekkaz is trying to manipulate women. He accuses politicians of being opportunistic – but so is he. He is exploiting this issue as a presidential candidate to get attention in the media.”

  • A Comment from Australia

    Despite tabloid “Burqa Ban” headlines there has been very little adverse comment about this proposed law, even the Muslim community is in general support of it. It just requires the removal of face coverings of any desciption, including motorcycle helmets, for ID purposes. It does not ban the wearing of a full face burqa in public places although I am not clear what the situation would be in a bank or at an airport check-in.

  • Anonymous

    There is a rising secessionist movement in Australia. I was not aware of one but was educated by an Australian who tells me that they are tired of opening the doors to all sorts of immigrants, particularly those that have an intense hatred for the West. Sound familiar?