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French government adopts burka ban bill

The hijab (upper left), the niquab (upper right), the chador (lower left) and the burqa (lower right).
The hijab (upper left), the niquab (upper right), the chador (lower left) and the burqa (lower right). AFP

The French government on Wednesday approved a draft law to ban garments which cover the face in public. The bill, which targets the burka and niqab worn by some Muslim women, will now go to parliament.

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“On this question, the government is taking, in all conscience, a path which is difficult but just,” President Nicolas Sarkozy told the ministers at the cabinet meeting.

 
“We are an old nation assembled around a certain idea of personal dignity, in particular the dignity of women, and around a certain idea of married life.”

A veil which covers the face contradicts values which are fundamental to the French republic, he said.

France 24 TV on burka law draft

 
The bill follows the lines already revealed in the media, notably a 150-euro fine and/or training in citizenship for women who break the law.

The opposition Socialist Party is likely to take the bill to the country’s highest court, the Conseil d’Etat, which has already warned that its provisions may be open to legal challenge.

French Islamic leaders, while condemning the practice, point out that only a tiny minority of French Muslims wear the veil and oppose the planned law on the grounds that it stigmatises their entire community.

Belgium became the first European country to ban the burka, when it passed it into law last month.

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