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Thu 3 Mar 2011 11:31 PM

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France to start enforcing Islamic veils ban soon

Officials say any veiled woman can be summoned to police station from April

France will start enforcing a ban

next month on full Islamic face veils, officials said on

Thursday, meaning any veiled woman can be summoned to a police

station and asked to remove her face-covering or pay a fine.

Officials say the law is mainly symbolic and police will not

call in every veiled woman they see to avoid stigmatising

Muslims.

But a Paris imam said forcing veiled women to present

themselves at a police station would be just as uncomfortable.

When France passed the ban on full face veils last year,

Muslim leaders voiced concern it could lead to veiled women

being unfairly treated by police or singled out for harassment.

"My gut reaction is to say this is all a bit clumsy," said

Moussa Niambele, the imam of a mosque in the north of Paris.

The ban forbids wearing any garment concealing the face in a

public space, namely the street, public transport, shops,

schools, courtrooms, hospitals and government buildings.

From April 11, police are instructed to summon veil-wearers

to a station, where they will be asked to remove the garment for

"identification" and leave it off. If the wearer refuses to

remove it they will be fined up to 150 euros ($208).

"You are stopped in public by the police and forced to

follow them to the station like an undesirable person," Niambele

told Reuters. "This is altogether too much ceremony."

France's Muslim community of 5 million is Europe's largest.

Fewer than 3,000 women wear the face veil, the goverment says.

As part of its public relations effort, the government has

rolled out a website with the URL "uncovered-face.gouv.fr" and

printed posters and pamphlets to be passed out in city halls.

"Nobody is allowed, in a public space, to wear a garment

designed to conceal their face," says the poster under a picture

of "Marianne", a symbolic female figure of the French Republic.

The ban comes into force as President Nicolas Sarkozy is

putting a special focus on Islam and its role in a secular

society ahead of a presidential election in 2012.

Some critics have dismissed the ban as a purely political

instrument, given the rarity of veil wearers in France.

Concerns the ban could lead to humiliation for Muslims were

underscored last year when a French woman attacked a veiled

Emirati tourist at a luxury boutique invoking the planned ban.

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sunny 9 years ago

Nothing wrong with it- people have a choice not to go there

PS 9 years ago

Wonder if the Emirati woman did anything to provoke the French woman... Unless the French lady was so deranged that she didnt need any provocation ! But I doubt that would be the case if this happened in a luxury boutique.

Jon 9 years ago

To quote the old favourite Dubai advice - if you don't like it, you know where the airport is...

blackberry 9 years ago

What about French Citizens who wear the veil? Why does the secular French government get involved in religious matters?

French Citizens should be represented by their governments. Hopefully they vote with one voice in the next election to ensure that they are heard. Thats how a democracy works.

But one thing is for certain, France has lost the right to dictate to any country around the world about how the ill-treatment of minorities. If France does not respect its own minorities, then it can't tell other states to respect theirs.

Jebel Ali Baba 9 years ago

For France this is not a religious but cultural matter. They simply don't want to see women being forced directly or indirectly covering their face. France has a huge Muslim population since many years and they do respect the headscarf though. But a face cover is something beyond their understanding of freedom. Anyway, the amount of women effected is very small. So no need to make a big thing out of it.

AXL 9 years ago

This is not a religious matter, pure safety. It isn't normal to dress that way in Europe. And I can assure you that Native French citizens wouldn't wear the veil for sure, and they are the ones who make rules.

Ronald H 9 years ago

when we Western / Europeans arrive in the U.A.E. or middle East at large we are expected to abide by local custom in regards to dress... when muslims arrive in a Western country they should expect to abide by the local custom. And if the local, general population reject veils, then the muslim should respect that wish and uncover their face.

Tariq 9 years ago

Woman don't have to cover their faces and hands in Islam. Why connect the veil issue to Islam? I completely understand where the French government is coming from, its a safety issue!

ollitrade 9 years ago

It has nothing to do with respecting minorities. The veils ban is introduced because for the security reasons, it is not a religious matter. You should try to understand and accept that. Different countries have different laws. And btw: the minorities are very welcome in Europe. They have the same rights like every citizen and even the chance under different circumstances to become a fully accepted and respected member of the society with long term residency.

Red Snappa 9 years ago

Security is the main reason and it is France's right after all they've had a few Muslim countries under their colonial control over time. They don't approve of guests that can't speak their language either and I'm an EU citizen, however coming from a bankrupt country too poor for Paris these days.

Irony is the fashion designer John Galliano is just being prosecuted by the French authorities for anti-semitic comments.