NEWS LESSONS / France’s veil ban: women are ‘effectively under house arrest’ / Intermediate


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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2011
France’s veil ban: women are ‘effectively under house arrest’
Level 2 Intermediate
Key words 1
Fill the gaps in the sentences using these key words from the text. The paragraph numbers are given to
help you.
1. A ____________________ is a thin piece of cloth worn over a woman’s face. (para 1)
2. ____________________ is respect that other people have for you or that you have for yourself. (para 1)
3. ____________________ is unfair treatment of someone because of their religion, race or other
personal features. (para 1)
4. If you ____________________ a piece of clothing, you remove it suddenly and with force. (para 1)
5. A ____________________ action is one that tries to start arguments between people or to make people angry
or upset. (para 1)
6. If you ____________________ someone, you hit them with your fst (closed hand), usually as hard as you
can. (para 2)
7. If you ____________________ someone, you prevent them from being involved in an activity. (para 2)
8. A ____________________ is an amount of money you have to pay because you have broken the law. (para 3)
9. On a ____________________ course, you learn about the obligations and responsibilities you have when you
live in a particular country. (para 4)
10. If you ____________________ a contract, you arrange for it to continue for a longer period of time. (para 6)
11. A ____________________ country has no offcial religion. (para 7)
12. If you ____________________ someone, you criticize them very strongly in a way that is not fair and damages
their reputation. (para 10)

punch secular vilify veil provocative rip off
renew citizenship fne dignity discrimination exclude
1. What is the fne for wearing a full-face veil in France?
2. How many cases are currently in progress in France?
3. When were all religious symbols banned in French schools?
4. Where did people protest against the niqab ban in April?
5. How many women wear the niqab in France?
6. How many other European countries are mentioned in the article?
Find the information 2
Find the following information in the text as quickly as possible.
NEWS LESSONS / France’s veil ban: women are ‘effectively under house arrest’ / Intermediate

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2011
France’s veil ban: women are ‘effectively under house arrest’
Level 2 Intermediate
France’s burka ban: women are
‘effectively under house arrest’
Angelique Chrisafs
19 September, 2011

In April, France introduced a law against covering
your face in public. Muslim women in full-face
veils, or niqabs, are now banned from any public
activity, including walking down the street, taking a
bus, going to the shops or collecting their children
from school. French politicians who supported
the ban said it was to protect the “equality” and
“dignity” of women. But fve months after the law
was introduced, Muslim groups report a worrying
increase in discrimination and verbal and physical
violence against women in veils. People in the
street have tried to rip off full-face veils, bus
drivers have refused to carry women in niqabs
and shop owners have tried to stop them entering
shops. One politician who supported the law said
that women still going out in niqabs were just
being “provocative”.
Hind Ahmas is French and lives on a quiet
suburban street. The last time she was attacked
in the street a man and woman punched her in
front of her daughter and told her to go back to
Afghanistan. “My quality of life has deteriorated
since the ban. I have to prepare for war every time I
go outside. The politicians said they were liberating
us but they have excluded us from social life.”
But despite all the publicity, no woman has
been punished yet under the law for wearing a
niqab. The frst real test will come when a judge
in the town of Meaux decides whether to give
Ahmas and a friend the frst ever fne. They were
arrested on 5 May wearing niqabs. They wanted
to highlight the stupidity of a law that they say has
increased anti-Muslim discrimination but is not
taken seriously by the justice system. Now, human
rights lawyers are suggesting the law could soon
be overturned.
Only the French police can confront a woman in a
niqab. They can’t remove her veil but must send
her to a local judge, who can give a €150 fne, a
citizenship course, or both. Some police have
wrongly given on-the-spot fnes, which were later
cancelled. Others seem to ignore women in niqabs
walking down the street, perhaps because they
feel they have more important crimes to stop. The
French justice ministry says “fewer than ten” cases
are currently in progress and the lack of fnes
shows the state prefers “dialogue” to punishment.
But Gilles Devers, a human rights lawyer, argued
people were not being fned because the law is
against European human rights laws.
France is not the only European country to try to
ban full-face veils in public. Belgium and parts
of Italy have banned the niqab. Denmark wants
to limit the wearing of niqabs and politicians in
Austria, the Netherlands and Switzerland want
complete bans.
In January, Ahmas lost her job after her contract
wasn’t renewed. “I’ve contacted lots of employers
looking for work. I always ask them if they accept
the veil. They say, ‘It depends what type. A tunic,
trousers and a headscarf are OK, but a long
robe is not.’” This is clear discrimination: “Totally
illegal,” she says.
Secular France has a complicated relationship
with the veil. In 2004, all religious symbols
including the headscarf were banned in schools.
Few of President Sarkozy’s opponents would
defend the right to wear niqabs in a country
where all left-wing politicians beleive in
secularism. Just a few people came to Notre
Dame cathedral to protest against the law in April.
The French Collective against Islamophobia
doesn’t promote the wearing of niqabs but gives
legal advice. “It’s not the police I’m afraid of, it’s
the personal attacks on women in the street,”
says Samy Debah, the association’s leader. Many
women say that their attackers were middle-aged
or old people.
It is estimated that only a few hundred women
wear the niqab in France, mostly women of
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NEWS LESSONS / France’s veil ban: women are ‘effectively under house arrest’ / Intermediate

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2011
France’s veil ban: women are ‘effectively under house arrest’
Level 2 Intermediate
north African origin, and many living on income
support. Kenza Drider refuses to take off her
niqab – “My husband doesn’t tell me what to do
and nor will the government” – but she says she
is afraid of being attacked. “I’m insulted about
three to four times a day,” she says. Most say,
“Go home”; some say, “We’ll kill you.” One said:
“We’ll do to you what we did to the Jews.”
“I feel that I now know what Jewish women
experienced before the Nazi round-ups in
France. When they went out in the street they
were identifed and vilifed. Now that’s happening
to us.”

© Guardian News and Media 2011
First published in The Guardian, 19/09/11
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1. Thousands of Muslim women in France wear the full-face veil or niqab.
2. The ban on wearing the niqab in public was introduced in April 2011.
3. The police are allowed to give on-the-spot fnes to women wearing niqabs in public.
4. France is the only European country that has banned the wearing of full-face veils in public.
5. All religious symbols are banned in schools in France.
6. Muslim groups say that violence against women in veils has increased since the ban was introduced.
1. a verb meaning get worse (para 2)
2. a verb meaning say offcially that a decision or a law is wrong and change it (para 3)
3. a four-word expression meaning a fnancial penalty given immediately at the place an offence happened
(para 4)
4. a noun meaning a long loose shirt usually worn by women (para 6)
5. a two-word noun phrase meaning money paid by the government to people who earn very little money or no
money at all (para 9)
6. a verb meaning say something rude or offensive to someone (para 9)
7. a noun meaning an occasion where people are forced to gather together in one place (para 10)
Comprehension check 3
Are these statements true (T) or false (F) according to the text?
Find the following words and phrases in the text.

Find the word 4

Two-word expressions 5
Match the words in the left-hand column with those in the right-hand column to make phrases from the text.
1. shop a. rights
2. human b. owner
3. religious c. advice
4. legal d. support
5. income e. veil
6. full-face f. symbol
NEWS LESSONS / France’s veil ban: women are ‘effectively under house arrest’ / Intermediate

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2011
France’s veil ban: women are ‘effectively under house arrest’
Level 2 Intermediate

Suffxes 6
Match the suffxes in the right-hand column with the words in the left-hand column to make words
from the text.
1. citizen a. -ism
2. equal b. -al
3. worry c. -ing
4. verb d. -ity
5. secular e. -ship
Are women who wear full-face veils just being provocative? Why? Why not?

Discussion 7
France’s veil ban: women are ‘effectively under house arrest’
Level 2 Intermediate
NEWS LESSONS / France’s veil ban: women are ‘effectively under house arrest’ / Intermediate

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2011
KEY
1 Key words
1. veil
2. dignity
3. discrimination
4. rip off
5. provocative
6. punch
7. exclude
8. fne
9. citizenship
10. renew
11. secular
12. vilify
2 Find the information
1. €150
2. fewer than ten
3. 2004
4. Notre Dame cathedral
5. probably only a few hundred
6. six (Belgium, Italy, Denmark, Austria, the
Netherlands, Switzerland)
3 Comprehension check
1. F
2. T
3. F
4. F
5. T
6. T
4 Find the word
1. deteriorate
2. overturn
3. on-the-spot-fne
4. tunic
5. income support
6. insult
7. round-up
5 Two-word expressions
1. b
2. a
3. f
4. c
5. d
6. e
6 Suffxes
1. e
2. d
3. c
4. b
5. a