France mulls fines for wearing a burka in public

No veiled threat - France mulls fines for wearing a burka in public


Friday, January 8th 2010, 12:21 PM

If a ruling party politician has his way, Muslim women would say au revoir to the tradtional veils, or be subject to a fine of more than $1,000 for wearing them in public, the Daily Mail newspaper reported.

That amount could double for Muslim men who force their wives or other female family members to cover their faces.

Jean-Francois Cope, president of Nicolas Sarkozy’s ruling UMP Party in the French parliament, said the legislation’s intend was to protect the “dignity” and “security” of women. He is set to file the draft law in the National Assembly after Sarkozy said veils are “not welcome” as they intimidate and alienate non-Muslims, in a secular country like France, the Daily Mail said.

“We want a ban in public areas,” Cope said, meaning the veil would be banned in public buildings, and on French streets, as it encourages extremism. “The wearing of the burka will be subject to a fine, probably of the 4th class, which is to say 750 euros.”

He said the fine would apply to “all people on the public street whose face is entirely covered.”

France is home to more than 5 million Muslims, the largest population in Europe.

“Permanently masking one’s face in public spaces is not an expression of individual liberty. It’s a negation of oneself, a negation of others, a negation of social life,” Cope told the Daily Mail.

He added a complete ban would most likely face legal hurdles on the grounds that it limits religious freedom.

Sarkozy has called the veils “a sign of subservience and debasement that imprison women,” adding they are “not welcome in France.”

A recent police report revealed that only about 400 women in France wore the veils, the Daily Mail said.