French lower house passes ban on burqa in public

13:21, July 14, 2010      

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French lower house of the parliament, the National Assembly, on Tuesday passed a bill with a majority support to ban burqa, an all-body veil that some Islamic women wear, in all public places in France.

In the afternoon, 335 legislators voted for the bill and only one voted against, successfully paving way for the bill to be decided by the Senate and then by the Constitutional Council in this autumn.

If finally approved, any woman wears such full-body and face- covering veil in any public places would be fined 150 euros (190 U. S. dollars) or take a citizenship lesson.

Any man violator, if convicted of forcing a woman to wear the burqa, would face a fine up to 30,000 euros (38,125 dollars) and one-year prison sentence.

Earlier reports said foreign luxury buyers from Arab countries, who wear an "item of clothing that hides their face" in all public spaces, would also be imposed fines under the potential law.

France has the largest Muslim minority in the European Union, but there are only 1,900 women estimated by the Interior Ministry that wear full veils.

Since the central-right-wing UMP takes a majority seat in both French congress houses and the opposition Socialists said they supported the bill as well, it's likely to see a smooth way for the ban to go in the fall.

Belgium is the other European country moving to ban any clothing that covers the face. In cities like Brussels and Antwerp, a ban on burqas has been implemented and violators face fines or short jail terms.

Source: Xinhua


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