Tags: France | fine | veil | wearing

France Sets $185 Fine in Muslim Veil Ban

Wednesday, 19 May 2010 10:23 AM

PARIS - The French government decided Wednesday to impose a $185 fine on women who wear a full-face Islamic veil in public, pushing ahead with a controversial ban despite signs of tension between France's Muslims and the Christian-tradition majority.

President Nicolas Sarkozy said his government was forwarding the legislation to parliament because it had a "moral responsibility" to uphold traditional European values in the face of an increasingly visible Muslim population, estimated at more than 5 million, the largest in Western Europe. He called the course chosen by his government "demanding" but "just," and he insisted that the law was not intended to stigmatize the country's Muslims.

France is one of a number of Western European countries seeking to forbid the full-face veil, called the burqa in Afghanistan and the niqab in North Africa. Belgium's Chamber of Representatives last month approved a nationwide ban, which must now be considered by the Senate. Legislators in several other countries have introduced similar bills, and the Swiss government has vowed to impose a ban administratively.

The French proposal has drawn heavy support, with up to 60 percent of those questioned in opinion polls saying restraints are necessary. But Muslims here have complained that they feel singled out for a practice that, according to an Interior Ministry estimate, concerns fewer than 2,000 women in a country of 64 million inhabitants.

The tensions boiled over Tuesday evening during a debate on the law in a Paris suburb with a large Muslim population. Members of the pro-Palestinian Sheik Yassin Movement tried to shout down the speakers, and scuffles broke out, leading to intervention by police officers who were called in by the organizers.

Last week, a woman wearing a full veil filed a legal complaint against a lawyer who she said insulted her religion in the Atlantic Coast town of Saint-Nazaire, local press reports said. The lawyer, also a woman, filed a counter-complaint, alleging she was beaten by the veil-wearing woman, the reports said.

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PARIS - The French government decided Wednesday to impose a $185 fine on women who wear a full-face Islamic veil in public, pushing ahead with a controversial ban despite signs of tension between France's Muslims and the Christian-tradition majority.
France,fine,veil,wearing
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2010-23-19
Wednesday, 19 May 2010 10:23 AM
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