Burqa ban: France imposes first fine
A woman has been ticketed in a suburban Paris shopping center for wearing a face veil, in the first reported sanction under a new ban on the garments, police said Tuesday.
Paris: A woman has been ticketed in a suburban Paris shopping center for wearing a face veil, in the first reported sanction under a new ban on the garments, police said Tuesday.
Another woman in another Paris suburb was stopped for wearing a veil, but was let go with a warning.
The inconsistent response illustrates the challenge for towns with a large Muslim community in enforcing a law that some view as Islamophobic.
Though such veils are very rare in France, many of the country`s at least 5 million Muslims see the ban as a stigma. Islam is France`s second-largest religion after Catholicism.
The ban also has been criticized by Iran`s government and activists in Jordan.
President Nicolas Sarkozy says such veils imprison women and wanted a ban to uphold French values of equality and secularism.
A 27-year-old was stopped by police in the mall parking lot in the town of Mureaux, regional police said. She was handed a ticket that requires her to pay a euro150 ($216) fine or register for citizenship classes within a month.
Police said the exchange was brief and calm. The incident occurred Monday, the day France`s ban on veils such as the niqab and burqa came into effect.
Another woman was stopped Tuesday for wearing a veil in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis. The 35-year-old was brought to the police station and reminded of the law, police said.
While these were the first publicly reported incidents, it was unclear how many women have been stopped so far nationwide. The French government has estimated only about 2,000 women in France wear such veils, and a few vocal wearers have said they will defy the ban.
Moderate Muslim leaders in France and elsewhere agree that Islam does not require women to cover their faces, but many are uncomfortable with banning the veil.
The ban has also drawn criticism from other countries.
In Tehran, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Tuesday the ban is a "wrong method and it will not bear a good result."
"Any kind of bar on observance of the veil means a lack of freedom and rights of Muslim women," he said in his weekly news briefing.
Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood chief Hammam Saeed said the ban "is totally contradictory to the human rights principles claimed in France." He said in a statement that he considers the move "a new crusader behavior targeting Muslims everywhere."
The Brotherhood`s political arm, the Islamic Action Front, is Jordan`s largest opposition group. The Brotherhood is a fiery critic of the government`s moderate policies, including close ties with the United States and diplomatic relations with Israel under a peace treaty signed in 1994. The brotherhood advocates the introduction of strict Islamic Sharia laws in Jordan.
Some other countries have restrictions on face veils or headscarves in schools or other public buildings, but France is the first country with a law designed to forbid the veil anywhere in public.