News Agencies – August 7, 2012
A French Muslim woman has been charged with assault and inciting a riot after she refused a police ID check because she was wearing a banned full-face veil. The 18-year-old is to appear in court in the northern city of Lille charged with assault, insulting police and inciting a riot after police tried to take her to a station for refusing to provide identification. A French law passed in 2011, the first of its kind to be enforced in Europe, banned the wearing of the full-face-covering Islamic veil. The law came into effect at an already fraught moment in relations between the state and France’s Muslim minority − the largest in Europe − with then president Nicolas Sarkozy accused of stigmatizing Islam to win back votes from a resurgent far right in this year’s election.
Supporters of the law have defended it as a measure aimed at supporting women’s rights although the text makes it clear that a woman cannot choose herself to cover her face in public. The woman, arrested on Saturday, was stopped by officers in Roubaix, outside northern France’s largest city of Lille. She allegedly said she did not have time and did not want to show her ID card and covered herself up with another veil as she walked away, the police source said, asking not to be named. When police tried to take her to the station, she allegedly grabbed hold of a vehicle and started kicking, punching and screaming, the source added. She allegedly tried to bite police and scratched one of them before being taken into custody. None of the officers were hurt. In a similar incident on July 24, three officers in the southern city of Marseille sustained minor injuries after they stopped a fully veiled woman by a mosque. The woman, two men and a minor are due in court over the alleged assault.