- Title: FRANCE: French cabinet formally approves burqa ban
- Date: 20th May 2010
- Summary: PARIS, FRANCE (MAY 19, 2010) (REUTERS) EXTERIORS OF ELYSEE PALACE VARIOUS MINISTERS LEAVING CABINET MEETING (SOUNDBITE) (French) JUSTICE MINISTER MICHELLE ALLIOT-MARIE SAYING: "Muslims are not stigmatised, so much so that the highest authorities in Islam have reinforced that there is nothing which forbids having your face uncovered in public, and also I remind you that there are a number of Muslim countries which also forbid the full veil." JOURNALISTS IN ELYSEE COURTYARD
- Embargoed: 4th June 2010 13:00
- Location: France
- Country: France
- Topics: Domestic Politics,Religion
- Reuters ID: LVA5KB1ZE28W3HGTEKO8J39AH1N0
- Story Text: French cabinet formally adopts bill to ban the wearing of full Islamic veils in public, proposed aw now goes to parliament.
The French cabinet has on Wednesday (May 19) formally adopted a bill to ban the wearing of full Islamic veils in public and the highly controversial proposed law now goes to parliament for a vote.
The government says the bill is necessary to defend women's rights and to stamp out a practice which is not common among France's large Moslem population, at several million the largest in Europe.
Women caught wearing the full veil in public will be fined 150euro which could be accompanied or replaced by a course.
Men found to be forcing a woman to wear a veil face a 15,000euro fine as well as the possibility of a year in prison.
The government also says that this is not a question of religion as there is no Islamic doctrine requiring the wearing of the full veil.
"Muslims are not stigmatised, so much so that the highest authorities in Islam have reinforced that there is nothing which forbids having your face uncovered in public, and also I remind you that there are a number of Muslim countries which also forbid the full veil," Alliot-Marie said.
"As the President of the Republic has repeatedly and unequivocally said, the burqa is not welcome in France. The full veil has no place on our territory," said government spokesman Luc Chatel.
Critics have brandished it as a populist move aimed at reassuring voters on the hard right and at deflecting attention from the gigantic economic problems facing France, at a time when the ratings of President Nicolas Sarkozy are at a record low.
"For me it's a psychological attack and it's an obsession with women who have chosen to wear an item of clothing, and we don't understand why this obsession... well, from a political point of view, we understand very well, we understand that it's to make the French forget the more serious problems in France than the full veil. But for me it has more to do with racism and xenophobia, especially as it's boosted Islamophobia in France," said Kenza Drider, who wears a burqa.
"As for the 15,000 euro fine, I doubt that they'll ever be able to find this famous bearded man who forces his women to wear veils, because we've all made the choice to wear this full veil, it's not our husbands who force us. And secondly, I'd really like to know if we're going to see police vans on the Champs Elysee handing out 150 euro fines to the wives of the Saudi princes," she added.
However, some were declaring victory for freedom.
"It's good news because it's a law that will provide protection for the liberation of these women, and a law which will be merciless towards the fundamentalists whom I call the French Taliban. That means that today, I think the fundamentalists just have to behave," Francois Guerin, head of the Burqa Commission at the National Assembly, told Reuters Television.
But UMP member Pierre Cardo said that the ban would solve nothing.
"I'm not convinced that democracy is enriching itself by issuing bans for little problems, which mask others which are more important, that's for sure. But the burqa in itself is just a symptom. What's important is knowing how to reduce the causes of the symptom," Cardo said.
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