Faiza Silmi applied for French citizenship worrying that her fluency in French might not be sufficient to impress anyone examining her petition. Little did she believe her request for citizenship would not be denied on her ability to speak French or know about French history, but upon the manner in which she dressed. “I would never have imagined that they would turn me down because of what I choose to wear: said Ms. Silmi gazing out from the narrow slit in her niqab, an islamic facial veil that is part of an outfit that covers her entire body. Last m month, France’s highest administrative court upheld a decision to deny Ms. Silmi citizenship on the ground that her “radical” practice of Islam was incompatible with French values. This was the first time someone has been denied citizenship on the basis of her ability to become assimilated on the basis of religious belief.
The decision comes four years after a law banning religious garb n public schools and weeks after a court in Lille annulled a marriage on the request of a Muslim husband whose wife lied about her virginity. Ironically, many Muslims agree with the decision to deny citizenship to Ms. Silmi. Fadela Amara, the French Minister for Urban affairs called Simli’s niqab a “prison” and a “straitjacket.” She said the niqab “is not a religious insignia, but the insignia of a totalitarian political project that promotes inequality between the sexes and is totally lacking in democracy.”
Ms. Simli insists she wears the niqab as being her “own choice.” Her husband is a French national as her children. Ms. Simli has a French family and it certainly entitles her to share their nationality. Certainly, her children will grow up as part of French culture and it is still unclear if they will opt for secularism or for the Muslim values of their mother.