French women become first to stand trial for wearing niqabs

News Agencies – June 17, 2011

The French State prosecutor has requests €150 fines for a pair of women charged with defying the full-face veil ban while protesting on streets of Meaux, near Paris. A court this week heard the first case against women for wearing the niqab – or Islamic face veil – since a ban came into force in April. One of the defendants was banned from entering the courthouse because she was still wearing the niqab.

 

The two women on trial were stopped in the street on 5 May near the town hall of Meaux, east of Paris. The mayor, Jean-François Copé, is an architect of the ban and head of Nicolas Sarkozy’s ruling rightwing UMP party. The women were wearing their niqabs during a demonstration against the law. They were supported by the Don’t Touch My Constitution group, which has led protests against the ban.

The state prosecutor requested that each woman be fined €150 (£132) and made to attend a citizenship class. The women’s lawyers argued that the law was politically motivated and “inapplicable”. The court will give its judgment on 22 September.