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French businessman ‘to pay all burqa (niqab) fines’

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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, traveled 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.

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“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.

The strategy

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.

Read rest here.

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Hena Zuberi is the Editor in Chief of Muslimmatters.org. She leads the DC office of the human rights organization, Justice For All, focusing on stopping the genocide of the Rohingya under Burma Task Force, advocacy for the Uighur people with the Save Uighur Campaign and Free Kashmir Action. She was a Staff Reporter at the Muslim Link newspaper which serves the DC Metro. Hena has worked as a television news reporter and producer for CNBC Asia and World Television News. Active in her SoCal community, Hena served as the Youth Director for the Unity Center. Using her experience with Youth, she conducts Growing Up With God workshops. hena.z@muslimmatters.org Follow her on Twitter @henazuberi.

30 Comments

30 Comments

  1. mw_m

    October 15, 2011 at 6:35 PM

    this is a bit old, isn’t it?

    • Hena Zuberi

      October 15, 2011 at 6:42 PM

      You are right it came out in August- it was Ramadan so we didn’t put it up- many of our readers haven’t read this.

  2. Rehan Tahir

    October 15, 2011 at 8:17 PM

    I never saw this, so thanks for posting it…

    JazaakAllah khayr

  3. Sak

    October 16, 2011 at 9:28 AM

    He seems to be a bit confused all round, doesn’t he?
    As Muslims we should follow the law of our countries if they do not go against Islam.
    And if they do…then it’s time to make hijrah.

    • Greg Abdul

      October 20, 2011 at 9:05 AM

      as salaam alaikum,

      I don’t really know Islam to say exactly, but Sak, are you saying all Muslims should leave France? The people there face a dilemma. France is a democracy. The Niqab ban is really against basic principles of free democratic society. It’s tantamount to men ordering women to wear bikinis. I believe, even in Sharia, it is not a command from men that orders women how to dress. It is not allowed for me to order women how to dress, by my uneducated understanding of Islam. So no principle in Islam nor Western law supports a legislature ordering women to show themselves to men. I guess and may Allah forgive me if I speak wrongly, but if the law is wrong and there is previous precedent, the Muslims may have a duty to overturn it. This I think, is an acceptable Jihad. Niqab is not fard, at least by those who teach me, so then should we say that by the rules of Islam, no niqabi belongs in France anymore? Sak should all niqabis make hijra? To where? That is certainly what the makers of this law want. Insha Allah I will go research this specifically because it is a question of Islam and democracy. In our Western history, you fight unjust laws. You lose today and maybe the next day, but you fight on their terms with the understanding that an underlying principle will eventually put you over the top. (Arab nationalism is not a fundamental principle we can stand on in dealing with the West). In my culture we say “you appropriate their language.” I have already insulted this brother and I ask Allah’s forgiveness, so I am the last one to criticize him. Many of us are not so big on defending niqabis and since some of our sisters don’t even wear hijab, that is not the issue for me. If the Muslims in France don’t have mosques as their priority, It is not for me to comment on it. The big issue here is; what is the proper Muslim response by the rules of sharia? Is fighting this law considered a jihad or is it illicit participation in a haram form of government? And even if it is halaal to fight inside the rules of democracy, what is the best response? Insha Allah, I will shut my mouth that makes too many mistakes and check with people of knowledge before I say anything else on this.

      • Isaak

        August 21, 2016 at 3:43 PM

        Assalamualykam brother

        indeed you are right wearing the niqab is not fardh but wearing hijab is fardh. People can choose whether they wish to wear a niqab or not it should not be the governments choice whether they wear it or not they have no right to ban it for no valid reason and it is a war on Islam. Nuns are allowed to be fully dressed to devote herself to god but a muslim cannot? People should be allowed to choose it has nothing to do with the government and with the ever increasing islamophobia in todays society it is a sign the day of judgement is on its way. Most women are not forced by their husbands but they do wear it by their own will. May Allah forgive me if I have made any mistakes

    • Jamiela

      August 21, 2016 at 5:19 PM

      Hijrah? We cant change the law or disregard it if it conflicts with God’s law? Of course we can. It is a noble cause. In South Africa we were able to overcome the racist Apartheid laws through civil disobedience and the grace of the Almighty. What is an anti-niqab law? Discrimination is wrong and we should fight injustice. Hijrah was neccessary when people were being tortured and killed, but a fine? Not the same thing. Wrong, but not to the same extent. This law is keeping women trapped in their houses only because they want to please their Creator. It robs women of their fundamental rights to religious freedom and basic human dignity. It is inhumane.

  4. Yakub Lulat

    October 16, 2011 at 11:38 AM

    Awsome guy.he got guts to stand up.god bless you.

  5. Greg Abdul

    October 18, 2011 at 11:12 AM

    as salaam alaikum and hi,

    this man makes my main point about Islam today in the world. By our faith, he is bound for the fire, but who can deny that he is defending Muslims and Islam? He is not a Muslim, but he believes so passionately in what’s right and women’s freedom so much so that he defends niqabis. As Muslims, it is our obligation, by the rules of our religion to embrace this man with both arms wide open. In the modern world, allies and enemies are not easily marked off as they were a thousand years ago. Those who only want alliance with Muslims ignore the realities of our modern interconnected world. Those who toss about “kafir” and “kuffar” and “Jew” are the same ones who abuse their women and sell overpriced goods and services to Muslims. Insha Allah this will wake up some of us. I am all for Muslim unity, but our primary unity should be with what is right and this brother of mines, mr Nekkaz, is a message from Allah to all of us Muslims.

    • Mansoor Ansari

      October 18, 2011 at 11:53 AM

      he’s a Muslim so I don’t understand y u r saying he’s isnt one.

    • Shahzad

      October 18, 2011 at 12:01 PM

      Why is he bound for the fire?

      • Johnathan

        October 18, 2011 at 2:27 PM

        We cannot judge if someone is “bound” for the fire from a Sunni Muslim perpsective.

        You have until your last breath in this life to either become a believer or end up losing your belief.

        Even if you didn’t hear a disbeliever accept faith during their last breath, it doesn’t mean they didn’t and so we can never really know where people are going to end up.

        Just because your a believer today, doesn’t mean you will be one tomorrow. And just because someone is a disbeliever today, doesn’t mean they won’t be one tomorrow.

  6. Salaams

    October 18, 2011 at 1:12 PM

    Reportedly Rachid is a Muslim.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/apr/11/french-police-detain-veil-protesters

    http://www.muslimnews.co.uk/paper/index.php?article=5523

    P.S. – His and anybody else’s final destination is unknown except that which has been said by Allah or his messenger (peaqce be upon him). Allah will judge each individual according to His knowledge and wisdom. It is a well known tenet of faith of all Sunni Muslims that no individual is ever to be declared a person of Heaven or of Hell except for those few explicitly named individuals whose fates are stated in the text of the Qur’an or in the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Choosing people’s fate is the exclusive prerogative of Allah!

    Allah says: “To Allah belongs the unseen secrets of the heavens and the Earth” [Sûrah Hud: 123]

    • Greg Abdul

      October 18, 2011 at 5:10 PM

      salaams,

      my error…al hamdulillah for your correction from our sources and may Allah forgive me my for writing this.

    • Omar

      October 22, 2011 at 12:06 PM

      P.S. – His and anybody else’s final destination is unknown except that which has been said by Allah or his messenger (peaqce be upon him). Allah will judge each individual according to His knowledge and wisdom. It is a well known tenet of faith of all Sunni Muslims that no individual is ever to be declared a person of Heaven or of Hell except for those few explicitly named individuals whose fates are stated in the text of the Qur’an or in the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Choosing people’s fate is the exclusive prerogative of Allah!

      Just to clarify, this statement is true regarding Muslims. We do not declare that a specific Muslim is going to heaven or hell except those who were explicitly named in the Quran or authentic Sunnah. Of course, we ask Allah to forgive our fellow Muslim brothers and sisters and grant them and us Jannah. However, regarding non-muslims or a person who has died upon disbelief, then there is a difference of opinion among the Sunni scholars of whether we can specifically state that he/she is in hell or not. That being said, all the Sunni scholars are agreed that in general, any person who dies upon disbelief will enter hell for eternity.

  7. Abez

    October 18, 2011 at 1:54 PM

    Greg, why on earth is this man condemned to hell?

    • Haqq hurts

      October 25, 2011 at 8:56 PM

      Greg corrected his mistake, jeez, leave him alone

  8. Greg Abdul

    October 18, 2011 at 3:36 PM

    May Allah forgive me. I looked at his picture and made a wrong assumption. I spoke without researching him. Now his paying the fines is different for me. He is a Muslim with money and he will be giving a large share to the French government. That’s not much of a protest. I thought it was non Muslim money going to pay the fines. I am pretty sure they can fine people fast enough to hurt him. I could be wrong (AGAIN), but that he is a Muslim diminishes this strategy. Call me a hypocrite for praising him for not being a Muslim. But we Muslims have obligations to the poor, masjids, etc. French Muslims pray in the street because they don’t have enough masjid space and that is the government’s latest target. So this money will not go in that direction and his money will go to the the French government instead as a form of protest. But it is HIS money and may Allah reward him and give him the highest Jannah for his efforts, even if I don’t see the possible effectiveness of them.

    Sorrry!

    Fee Amanallah

    • Al-Nayjeree

      October 18, 2011 at 4:07 PM

      May Allah forgive all of us. I just want to note that whether or not he is Muslim, we cannot say he is “bound for the fire”; What i mean is for the average non-muslim, there is still time to accept Islam until death, and only Allah knows if he will die Muslim or not. Just as we Muslims cannot claim to know we are “bound for heaven” (May Allah grant us the blessing of jannah, amin!), we cannot claim a specific non-muslim is bound for the fire (at least in general, perhaps there are exceptions I am not aware of) unless we are granted that knowledge by Allah (as with the example of fir’aun, etc.). May Allah guide us always to correct understanding, amin.

      On another note, it’s pretty cool that the brother has volunteered to pay the fines!

    • mimi

      October 18, 2011 at 8:40 PM

      Assalamu’alaikum,

      I don’t think we can assume that because he’s devoted to this cause, that he doesn’t financially support other causes. Even then, whatever an individual does with their wealth (besides the ordained zakah, caring for those under their care, etc.), is not the business of others.

      I hear that quite often in the Muslim community: “Oh dear, another Masjid project? We need funds to address poverty, youth issues,…”, and so on. Sadaqa does not decrease wealth and we cannot say that donations to one particular cause are diverting donations to other important causes.

    • Brother

      October 19, 2011 at 2:55 AM

      At least he has guts and is standing up to defend his sisters against oppression. His views don’t fit with mine, but that doesn’t matter. Allah is the best judge and perhaps this brother will be saved from hell for this act. May Allah reward him for this deed, inshallah. Bottom line, he’s doing something to help these sisters, what are we doing?

      In any case, yep, the French government can become more overzealous than it already is and make the penalties stiffer or prevent this brother help our niqabi sisters. But still, a protest is a protest.

  9. A.Stranger

    October 19, 2011 at 4:34 AM

    I applaud his efforts for standing up for sisters who have had their freedom cruelly snatched from them.
    And I don’t intend to be critical of someone who in support of the Niqab (even if indirectly) but I always say that it is extremely narrow minded to think that a veil/niqab will limit a woman’s options.
    When I started wearing it, that was one thing that people would bring up over and over again, you are a graduate, how will you find work, etc. But truthfully how limited is ones apprehension to assume that there are no other ways to work/earn money or no other way to integrate into the society and have a social life except with the conventional approach.. just saying.

  10. ahsan arshad

    October 19, 2011 at 9:49 AM

    alhumdulillah, I appreciate Greg Abdul for correcting himself once he realized his mistake…this is indeed a trait of a muslim which many lack.

  11. Fulaan

    October 20, 2011 at 2:43 PM

    I’m not sure this really undermines the law. To me (and this is just my opinion), it seems like the attitude of “we can solve any problem with money… how much do I need to pay?” Yes, it is good that he’s helping our sisters with their fines, but more than the fine (which, let’s be honest, doesn’t break the bank for most people at 75-100 Euros), the humiliation of getting arrested and the hassle of dealing with that being on one’s record is a bigger issue which can only be solved by challenging the law legally. Alhamdulillah, he’s doing that too.

  12. firoz khan

    September 14, 2012 at 2:50 PM

    allah bless this man…………

  13. firoz khan

    September 14, 2012 at 2:51 PM

    this man must deserve for heaven

  14. Free

    July 8, 2016 at 9:31 AM

    A muslim Millionaire da an t like to give his money to need muslim people but he likes to keep slave woman in slave work….
    Orrible

  15. Pete

    August 21, 2016 at 6:39 PM

    Al-Nayjeree
    I’m not a believer in any religion, and will never embrace Islam. I’m not going to tell you about my life, but if for the sake of argument, I lived a good one, full of generosity and good deeds, do you honestly believe that I would be “headed for the fire”? Not very nice is it?
    Fundamentalist American Christians believe I’m going there too, for the same reason. They believe you will join me unless you convert. You believe they will join me, unless they convert. Everyone is in someone’s version of hell.
    Except that I don’t believe in any of it. Sorry.

  16. Love Ahlebait

    August 21, 2016 at 9:22 PM

    God bless him. If people like him are in this world no woman will be afraid.

  17. AYEINA

    August 28, 2016 at 6:26 AM

    This reminded me of the poetry written on niqab:

    Our identity is woven within the threads of fabric
    But we’re so much more than a piece of cloth
    How much will you try to tame the strong waves
    By simply removing from shore, its froth…

    http://ayeina.com/your-niqab-questions-answered/

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