France Moves Toward a ‘Burqa’ Ban

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Calling full face veils “a new form of enslavement,” the lower house of the French parliament voted 335 to 1 to ban any garment which obstructs the face.

“No one can, in the public space, wear clothing intended to hide the face,” the draft bill said.

It is the latest move from a handful of European countries, including Spain and Belgium, seeking to ban veils worn by some Muslim women. If passed by the Senate in September as predicted, the bill could impose fines of about $191 (150 euros) and a citizenship course for offenders. Those who force women to wear face veils, may face a harsher punishment of a year in prison and a $38,000 (30,000 euro) fine.

More than 200 opposition members refused to vote, demonstrating their opposition to both face veils and the ban.

Of the estimated 5 million Muslims in France, only about 1,900 wear full-face veils, such as the burqa and the niqab.