January 27, 2010

Face veil ban proposed in France

by Benjamin Graham

Women in France will be banned from wearing Islamic face veils in hospitals, schools, government offices, and on public transport, if the proposals of a French parliamentary committee are upheld.

The committee’s report, the summary of six months of hearings running to almost 200 pages, also recommends that anyone showing signs of “radical religious practice” should be denied residence cards and French citizenship.

Women who cover their faces challenge the values of the French Republic, the committee ruled.

Under the committee’s recommendations, anyone who refused to show their face in a public building would be refused access to public services.

A women wearing a full veil would not be able to ride the bus, be treated in hospital, or collect social welfare payments.

“The wearing of the full veil is a challenge to our republic,” the report states.

“This is unacceptable. We must condemn this excess.”

Bernard Accoyer, president of the French National Assembly, said the report’s recommendations have “full support”.

“We’d like to extend the ban to all public spaces, but we need to take the time to get the law right,” he said.

“The full veil represents in an extraordinary way everything that France spontaneously rejects.”

The London-based Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) condemned the report as “racist”.

The report will “simply legitimise further acts of racism and discrimination,” the IHRC said.

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