French National Assembly approves ban on burqa

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

PARIS - The lower house of the French parliament, the National Assembly, Tuesday passed a bill banning the wearing of the Islamic all-body veil, or burqa, in all public places.

If approved in the fall by the Senate and then by the Constitutional Council, the law would impose a fine of 150 euros ($190) or a lesson in citizenship on any woman caught wearing the burqa outside her home.

A man convicted of forcing a woman to wear the garment, meanwhile, would be liable to a fine of up to 30,000 euros and a one-year prison sentence.

The approval was widely expected, since the ruling UMP party has a sizeable majority in the body and the opposition Socialists said they would not oppose it.

The final vote was 335 for and a single vote against, with 14 Socialist lawmakers voting with the majority.

The daily Le Figaro reported that a private individual, Rachid Nekkaz, has established a fund that would provide money to women who broke the burqa ban.

“With my wife, we simply opened an account in which we deposited 200,000 euros,” Nekkaz said. “By September, there will be 1 million euros available.”

Only about 2,000 women are believed to wear the all-body veil in France, a country of 65 million people. That has led critics to call the bill a waste of time.

Others say it is unconstitutional and could be struck down by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Filed under: Religion

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