Wrongly accused of wearing the niqab, the minor is finally acquitted by the Nîmes police court

Wrongly accused of wearing the niqab, the minor is finally acquitted by the Nîmes police court

Me Florence de Prato, avocate de la victime a plaidé la relaxe. Archive Midi Libre – MICHAEL ESDOURRUBAILH

Accused of having worn the niqab on public roads last June, the 17-year-old girl was finally acquitted by the Nîmes police court.

The Nîmes police court rendered its decision this Tuesday, June 4, during a closed-door trial, releasing Inès (assumed first name), a high school student from 17 years old accused of wearing niqab on public roads.

A face not entirely concealed

The facts date back to June 12, 2023, when the young girl, of Muslim faith, was arrested on the Route de Beaucaire by four police officers. The agents, believing that she was wearing a niqab, checked her and drew up a report for "wearing clothing intended to conceal the face in a public space", explains Me Florence de Prato, lawyer for the defendant.

During her police interview on September 8, 2023, Inès explained that she was wearing a blue abaya, a simple veil and a black surgical mask to hide skin imperfections "which is in no way a means of disturbing public order", continues Me de Prato, emphasizing that his front and his eyebrows remained visible and his face was not entirely hidden.

"The authorities could have avoided this mistake"

The court noted that the surgical mask does not constitute “dress” within the meaning of the law, and its wearing, although covering the nose and mouth, is not intended to disturb public order. The judges also noted the absence of intentional elements of total concealment of the face, essential to characterize the offense.

According to the lawyer, this case brought before the Nîmes police court highlighted confusion on the part of the police officers between the terms niqab and abaya, as well as a lack of photographic evidence of Inès's attire on the day of the incident. “The authorities could have avoided this mistake by taking photos during the identity check”, the lawyer emphasizes.

Finally, the court acquitted the young girl of the facts for which she was being prosecuted, the prosecuting authority having not wished to continue the proceedings.

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