French Senate bans face veil

Any dissenters have 10 days to challenge the ban in the Constitutional Council watchdog.

French Senate bans face veil

The French Senate has voted overwhelmingly for a bill banning face veil everywhere from post offices to streets, in a final step toward a making it law.

The Senate voted 246 to 1 Tuesday in favor of the bill, which has already passed in the lower chamber, the National Assembly.

The Council of State, France's top legal advisory body, has questioned whether a ban is compatible with the constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights.

France had already banned the wearing of Muslim headscarves in schools and the civil service, although female university students may wear them.

Any dissenters have 10 days to challenge the ban in the Constitutional Council watchdog.

Critics of the proposed law hope that it will eventually be overturned by the constitutional council, France's highest legal body.

If implemented, women caught wearing the niqab in public places including streets, markets, government buildings, private businesses and public transport would be fined $190.

Men who force their wives or daughters to cover for religious reasons would face tougher penalties of up to $38,685 and a one-year jail term.

Some rights groups have also voiced concern that the legislation would risk raising Islamaphobia, in a country where some Muslim women already face harrassment for wearing the veil.

The legislation is carefully worded to ensure it passes potential legal minefields.

The measure is called "Forbidding the Dissimulation of the Face in the Public Space", making no mention of "woman," "veil" or "Islam."

The language was tweaked in similar fashion when a ban on headscarves was passed in 2004, with the law outlawing all "ostentatious" religious symbols, including large Christian crosses.


Agencies

Last Mod: 15 Eylül 2010, 13:12
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