Paris: The harshest penalties in the French draft bill to ban the Islamic all-body veil, or burqa, is to be imposed on men who force women to wear the garment, the daily Le Figaro reported on Friday.
According to the draft of the law examined by the daily, anyone found guilty of forcing a woman to wear the burqa through "violence, threats, abuse of power or authority" faces a maximum sentence of one year in prison and a fine of up to EUR 15,000 (USD 20,000).
The law itself does not specifically target the burqa, but declares, "In any public area, no one may wear a garment intended to conceal his face". Anyone convicted of breaking the law would be liable to a fine of up to EUR 150.
"For the sake of principle, we have opted for a total ban," one of the drafters of the bill was quoted as saying. "But we have decided on mild sanctions because these women are often victims."
The draft bill is to be presented to the cabinet on May 19 and put before the National Assembly in July. Final passage of the bill is foreseen for September.