New Delhi: France on Wednesday said it would soon
bring a law to ban wearing the full veil, the niqab, and the
burqa by women in public places and made it clear that people
staying in the country should adhere by the laws of the land.
French Ambassador Jerome Bonnafont said wearing a burqa
or nikab in public places in France was in contradiction of
the principles of freedom and equality.
"If someone does not feel at ease with French laws why
should they stay in France," Bonnafont asked.
France is home to five million Muslims ? the largest
concentration in Europe, and Islam is the country`s second
most practised religion.
According to estimates nearly 2,000 women wear the burqa
or the niqab in the public. Most of these women are believed
to be migrants from former French colonies in Africa.
"They have chosen to come to France, which means that
they accept to abide by French laws and not challenge them,"
The French government is understood to have held
consultations with the Director of the Cairo University and
the Rector of the Jeddah Masjid, both considered as experts on
Holy Quran. Consultations were also held with Association of
The experts are believed to have made it clear to the
French authorities that there was no religious prescription on
wearing burqa or nikab and the social practice was derived
through local customs.
Bonnafont contended that those insisting on making burqa
compulsory for Muslim women had a "political agenda" as
religion did not prescribe it.
French Prime Minister Francois Fillon has sought the
advice of the Council of State, the country`s highest
administrative court, on the feasibility of a law to ban
wearing the full veil in public places.