Woman fined €150 for wearing face veil in Paris


POLICE IN a Paris suburb have fined a woman €150 for wearing an Islamic face veil outside a shopping centre, the first recorded breach of a new law banning the wearing of the niqab and burka in public.

The 28-year-old was stopped by police in Les Mureaux, northwest of Paris, late on Monday afternoon – the day the new law came into force. A police source told Le Figaroshe was fined “without incident” and had one month to pay.

The veil law, which President Nicolas Sarkozy says is is designed to reaffirm French secular values and women’s rights, makes it illegal for women to cover their faces in all public places, though a circular from the interior ministry has advised police not to enforce it near mosques.

A second woman wearing a face veil was stopped by police yesterday as she tried to enter a town hall in Saint-Denis, a northern suburb of Paris.

Officials refused to serve the woman, who was accompanied by a TV crew, and on her way out police asked her to remove her veil to check her identity.

When she refused, she was taken to a police station. There she removed the niqab, but declared that nobody had forced her to wear it.

Under the new law, anyone forcing a woman to wear a full-face veil could receive a one-year jail sentence and a €30,000 fine. The woman was released without a fine.

Manuel Roux, the secretary general of France’s main police union, said on Monday the new law would be “immensely difficult to apply” and predicted it would therefore be little enforced by his members.

Interior minister Claude Guéant insisted the law would be respected, however. “The police and the gendarmes are there to enforce the law, and they will enforce the law,” he said.

Five people were arrested in Paris on Monday, the day on which the burka ban came into force, for holding an unauthorised demonstration against the new law.