British couple challenge French veil ban

A Muslim husband and wife are using a British legal team to launch a landmark human rights challenge to the French ban on face-covering veils.

The couple are taking the French government to the European Court of Human Rights over its prohibition on wearing the niqab and burka in a case of importance across the European Union. They are seeking damages and a ruling that the ban on the full-face veil is “unnecessary, disproportionate and unlawful”. They also contend the blanket ban restricts their right to free movement across the EU.

The husband is a French national living with his wife and two children in the West Midlands. They are being represented by Robina Shah from the Birmingham-based Immigration Advisory Service, who has lodged their application with the human rights court in Strasbourg, and barrister Ramby de Mello.

Ms Shah said: “The case clearly is of importance to my clients. As a result of the ban they have had to leave their country of nationality, as the ban restricts their freedom of choice, and that of their daughters.”

The couple wish to remain anonymous, saying there is “considerable hostility” in both the UK and France to Muslim women who go fully veiled in public.

Asian Image, 9 June 2011