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The French prohibition on veiling in public places: rights evolution or violation?In 2011, France introduced a prohibition on wearing face-concealing garments in all public places. Particularly captured by the prohibition was the small number of Muslim women veiling in France. The French government’s rationales for the prohibition include the protection of public social order and equality. Including all public places rather than certain public institutions shifts the focus of an earlier similar prohibition. This article suggests that this shift may be symptomatic of a disturbing polemic that sees freedom understood in a narrow sense that is largely antagonistic to religion and difference. The article provides evidence and argument to support this suggestion. It proposes that any related petition brought to a human rights court must be on the lookout for this polemic which, if influencing the prohibition, would lead to the pursuit of an aim that is dubious in terms of human rights, specifically the right to freedom of religion.