France votes for ban on face veils


FRANCE’S parliament has voted overwhelmingly in favour of a controversial ban on wearing face veils in public.

Members of the National Assembly yesterday voted to approve the Bill by 335 votes to one after most of the opposition – the Socialist Party (PS), the Greens and the Communists – refused to take part in the vote. The measure won the support of president Nicolas Sarkozy’s UMP bloc, the centre-right Nouveau Centre and a small number of left-wing deputies.

The draft law, which would introduce a fine of €150 on any woman who wears a face veil such as the niqab or burqa in public, will go to the senate for approval in September before being scrutinised by the Constitutional Council, France’s highest constitutional authority.

The PS insisted it was against the wearing of face veils, but warned that approving an outright ban was a “legal risk” and that censure from the Constitutional Council would be “an invaluable gift for the fundamentalists we are all combating”. The state’s highest legal advisory body, the Council of State, has warned that a ban on face veils in all public places would be unconstitutional.