concealment of the face

Citizenship as the Democratic Foundation for the Anti-Burqa Statute. Reflections on Death to the World and Voluntary Incarceration

Wearing the full-face veil can be interpreted as a voluntary confinement, a voluntary incarceration or a “death to the world”. Under the “Ancien Régime”, this “death to the world” lived by Christian contemplative’s friars was considered by contemporary lawyers as a “civil death”. Nowadays this regime is closed to the one of missing persons (article 122 of the civil code).In February 1790, French revolution prohibited the perpetual vows in the name of the individual freedom of disengaging. In 1792, the assembly prohibited any religious costumes, even within convents, using the argument that, from the friar’s perspective, “the sacred act of religious profession prevails over social contract”. According to this established doctrine, to be in the citizen’s community suppose to be not, in the same time, “death to the world”. At least in the public space, considered as a “co-citizenship” space, since this withdrawal from the world is, by definition, a freedom in the private space.This interpretation suggests that the prohibition of wearing the full-face veil should be based on republican and democratic citizenship (article 1 of the constitution) instead of an ‘immaterial public policy’, legally fragile.