Paris: France will jail and impose huge
fines on anyone who forces a Muslim woman to wear a full-face
veil, according to a leaked version of a proposed law revealed
While women will face only a 150 euro penalty if they
choose to don a burqa or a niqab, President Nicolas Sarkozy
wants to slap one-year prison terms and USD 20,000 fines on
those who make others wear them.
"No-one may wear in public places clothes that are
aimed at hiding the face," says the text of a new law that is
to be presented to parliament in July, according to a copy
seen by the pro-government newspaper Le Figaro.
The law will create a new offence of "incitement to
cover the face for reasons of gender," the paper said, and
this offence will incur a 15,000 euro fine and a year in
Legislators decided to impose a much smaller fine on
women caught wearing the veil in public "because these women
are often victims," one of the authors of the law told Le
Figaro on condition of anonymity.
Women caught wearing the full veil can choose to
attend a "citizenship course" instead of paying the fine, the
Sarkozy decided this month to opt for a total ban on
the full-face veil, despite warnings from the State Council,
France`s top administrative body, that the law could be struck
down as unconstitutional.
The president has declared the burqa and the niqab --
veils worn by Muslim woman in parts of Afghanistan, Pakistan
and the Gulf -- unwelcome in France, calling them an affront
to French values that denigrate women.
There has been a fierce debate in France, home to
Europe`s biggest Muslim minority of between five and six
million, with supporters of a ban arguing that veils are a
sign of creeping fundamentalism that must not be allowed to
But opponents accuse Sarkozy of pandering to the
far-right with such moves and note figures showing that only
1,900 women wear the full veil in France.
Neighbouring Belgium yesterday became Europe`s first
country to vote for a ban, sparking dismay among Muslims and
warnings of a dangerous precedent.