French lawmakers debate possible burqa ban

Amid heated debates, French lawmakers are wrestling with a compromise over a proposed ban on the wearing of face-veil by Muslim women. “We will talk about the idea of a law, about the need to take time to prepare it and to avoid stigmatization,” said MP André Gerin, head of the parliamentary commission on the issue.

Gerin, who spearheaded the anti-burqa campaign, said the next step will be a law imposing a ban on the burqa. Many lawmakers have voiced skepticism at the prospect of police forcing women to lift their veils in public, leaving the parliamentary committee mulling more applicable compromises. The initial proposal is to impose fines of up to €750 on people covering their faces in all public places.

President Nicolas Sarkozy’s ruling Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) has already introduced a draft bill with the proposal in the National Assembly. But Gerin recommended a more selective ban applying only to public buildings and schools. The conclusions of the special panel are going to be released in a report by the end of January.

Prime Minister Francois Fillon also waded into the fray saying he was in favor of a ban. He said the parliament should adopt a resolution outlining France’s rejection of the burqa and that several legislative texts and regulations should follow.

Libération (French)