Washington: The United States endorsed on Tuesday the right of people to "express religious belief through religious attire" after French police fined a woman for wearing a full-face veil.
US State Department spokesman Mark Toner stood up for freedom of religion and expression, but stopped short of criticising France`s ban on wearing full-face coverings, including the niqab.
"I would refer you to the French government for a full explanation of its laws, but we support freedom of religion and expression, and that includes the right to express religious beliefs through religious attire," he said, stressing that France is a "very close ally" of the United States.
French police fined a woman for wearing a full-face Islamic veil, the first reported enforcement of a ban on the garment on the day it came into effect, a police source said.
The young woman, born in 1983, was fined EUR 150 (USD 216) "without incident" early Monday evening in a shopping centre in Mureaux, northwest of Paris, the source said, without elaborating on exactly what she was wearing.