Monday, January 11, 2010

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06 January 2010 - 18H22

French opposition takes stand against burqa ban
Muslim women wearing veils walk in the center of Marseille, southern France, in June 2009. France's opposition Socialists on Wednesday came out against calls for a law banning the full Islamic veil but said Muslim women must be discouraged from wearing the burqa.

A Muslim woman dressed in traditional clothes, walks with her child in Venissieux, near Lyon central France in June 2009. France's opposition Socialists on Wednesday came out against calls for a law banning the full Islamic veil but said Muslim women must be discouraged from wearing the burqa.

France's opposition Socialists on Wednesday came out against calls for a law banning the full Islamic veil but said Muslim women must be discouraged from wearing the burqa. The Socialist Party opposes the wearing of the burqa but "is not favourable" to a legal ban, which would amount to an inconsistent "ad hoc law", its spokesman Benoit Hamon, pictured in November 2009, said on RTL radio. AFP - France's opposition Socialists on Wednesday came out against calls for a law banning the full Islamic veil but said Muslim women must be discouraged from wearing the burqa.

The announcement by the Socialists came after President Nicolas Sarkozy left open the prospect of legislation to ban the veil and ahead of a much-awaited parliament report on the loaded issue to be released at the end of the month.

Home to Europe's biggest Muslim minority, France set up the special panel six months ago to consider whether a law should be enacted to bar Muslim women from wearing the full veil, known as a burqa or niqab.

The Socialist Party opposes the wearing of the burqa but "is not favourable" to a legal ban, which would amount to an inconsistent "ad hoc law", its spokesman Benoit Hamon said on RTL radio.

"We are totally opposed to the burqa. The burqa is a prison for women and has no place in the French Republic," he said. "But an ad hoc law would not have the anticipated effect."

The Socialist spokesman nevertheless called for action.

The wearing of the full veil reflects a "shift away from a certain type of (moderate) Islam", he said, adding: "We must use all of the legal instruments at our disposal to ensure that this behaviour is condemned when it is encouraged."

Sarkozy himself has said that the burqa is not welcome in France but has not stated publicly whether legislation should be enacted.

The leader of Sarkozy's party in parliament, Jean-Francois Cope, has said he will propose a bill this month to ban the wearing of the burqa in public to defend France from "extremists".

But many politicians from the left and right have cautioned that a draconian law banning the head-to-toe veil would be difficult to enforce and probably face a challenge in the European rights court.

"If tomorrow the burqa is not allowed in public places, how would the police act to convince a woman to abandon her burqa? Would they force her to take it off?" asked Hamon.

Sarkozy this week raised the prospect of a non-binding parliamentary resolution against the burqa and said he was not opposed to legislation, members of his right-wing UMP party told AFP.

Critics argue that a specific law enacted to ban the full veil would be tantamount to using a sledgehammer to swat a fly. Only 1,900 women wear the full veil in France, according to the interior ministry, and more than half of those live in the Paris region.

Opponents warn that a law would stigmatise France's six million Muslims who already feel targeted in the government-sponsored debate on national identity, which has exposed fears about Islam.

Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux last month told the parliamentary panel that the burqa should be outlawed in public services such as the post office, government offices, local administrations and in public transport.

The law would invoke security reasons for the ban and the requirement that citizens uncover their faces in public.

In 2004, France passed a law banning headscarves and any other "conspicuous" religious symbols in state schools after a long-running debate on how far it was willing to go to accommodate Islam in its strictly secular society.





07 January 2010 - 19H51
French draft bill to fine burqa-wearing women

Muslim women wearing veils walk in the center of Marseille, southern France, in June 2009. Muslim women who wear the full Islamic veil in France will face a possible 750-euro (1,000-dollar) fine, according to a draft bill unveiled Thursday by the leader of the parliamentary majority.

Muslim women who wear the full Islamic veil in France will face a possible 750-euro (1,000-dollar) fine, according to a draft bill unveiled by the leader of the parliamentary majority. Jean-Francois Cope, who heads the governing UMP party in the National Assembly, told Le Figaro newspaper's weekly magazine that men who force their wives to wear the burqa or niqab could face an even heavier fine.
AFP - Muslim women who wear the full Islamic veil in France will face a possible 750-euro (1,000-dollar) fine, according to a draft bill unveiled Thursday by the leader of the parliamentary majority.
Jean-Francois Cope, who heads the governing UMP party in the National Assembly, told Le Figaro newspaper's weekly magazine that men who force their wives to wear the burqa or niqab could face an even heavier fine.
"The law will address an issue of security," Cope said in an interview with the magazine.
"The proposed measure would prohibit the covering of the face in public places and on the streets, with the exception of special cultural events or carnivals."
The draft legislation will be presented in the next two weeks and should come up for debate in parliament after the March regional elections, he said.
The majority leader, who is also openly campaigning to succeed President Nicolas Sarkozy as the right-wing candidate for the presidency in 2017, said the burqa must be banned to defend women's rights.
"We can measure the modernity of a society by the way it treats and respects women," he said.
France's political establishment is divided on whether to ban the burqa, with the opposition Socialists this week saying that it opposed a law even though Muslim women must be discouraged from wearing the full veil.
The burqa debate has heated up ahead of the release at the end of the month of a much-awaited report by a parliamentary panel that has conducted six months of hearings on the issue.
Many politicians from the left and right have cautioned that a draconian law banning the head-to-toe veil would be difficult to enforce and probably face a challenge in the European rights court.
Sarkozy himself has said that the burqa is not welcome in France but has not stated publicly whether legislation should be enacted.
Critics argue that a specific law enacted to ban the full veil would be tantamount to using a sledgehammer to swat a fly. Only 1,900 women wear the full veil in France, according to the interior ministry.
In the interview, Cope argued that a law would act as a deterrent by sending a "clear message" that France will not allow women to fully cover themselves.



http://www.france24.com/en/20100106-french-opposition-takes-stand-against-burqa-ban




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