A surprise candidate for the 2012 French Presidency threw
her hat into the ring on Thursday by declaring her candidacy in the town of Meaux, near Paris. Her aim is to defend the rights of all French women. Kendra Drider is best known for protesting against the French face-covering ban that came into effect in April, which she repeatedly flouts by appearing in pubic in a niqab. The ban is often referred to as the veil ban or the burka ban.
Kenza Drider, 32–year-old mother of three, is of Moroccan descent and a convert to Islam. She has worn the niqab for 13 years, according to Radio Free Europe
. She is part of a group of Muslim women that have deliberately contravened the law, hoping to be arrested in the hope that they can have the ban overturned by the Court of Human Rights. Drider maintains it is her fundamental human right to wear the niqab.
Drider was arrested on the day the ban was brought into force. She joined a protest organized by Muslim activist Rachid Nekkaz, who encouraged the wearing of the niqab as an act of civil disobedience. He also promised to pay the fines incurred by women wearing the niqab. Following her first arrest Rider told the Daily Mail
“(Wearing the veil) is not an act of provocation. I'm only carrying out my citizens' rights, I'm not committing a crime ... If they (police) ask me for identity papers I'll show them, no problem.”
Ironically Rider chose the town of Meaux to declare her candidacy as it is run by Mayor Jean-Francois Cope, who championed the ban. Two other women who protest alongside Rider were also in Meaux today to attend a court hearing following their recent arrest. Police charged them as they attempted to deliver a birthday cake to Cope whilst their faces were covered by veils.
According to the Guardian
they received fines by the court instead of the convictions they hoped for. They are however the first two women to receive any form of sanction for defying the ban, despite more than 90 arrests having been made since April.
Kenza Drider may well receive support in her bid for President from the estimated six million Muslims that live in France. The Saudi Gazette
points out that despite needing 500 Mayors to back her candidacy, Drider thinks it is doable as there are 36,000 Mayors in France.