The French government has decided to deny the nationality to a man over allegations that he has forced his French wife to wear the face-veil. “This case is about a religious radical,” said French Prime Minister François Fillon, following Immigration Minister Eric Besson’s admission about the case. “He imposes the burqa, he imposes the separation of men and women in his own home, and he refuses to shake the hands of women,” Fillon added.
It was not clear if the wife was forced to cover her face or it was her choice. The name and nationality of the man was not declared. Justice Minister Michele Alliot-Marie has called for denying Muslim men who force their wives to wear the full veil the citizenship.
Prime Minister Fillon even vowed to expel the man. “If this man does not want to change his attitude, he has no place in our country,” he said.”In any case, he does not deserve French nationality.” In 2008, a court denied a veiled Muslim woman the nationality for being “too submissive” to her husband and that her religious rituals were “incompatible” with French values.
A report drawn up by French MPs calls for a ban on Afghan-style burqas and other garments that cover a woman’s face. The proposal has strong public support. According to an opinion poll by Ipsos for the magazine Le Point, 57 percent of voters favor a ban while 37 percent are opposed.
The recommendations of a parliamentary commission, to be published next week, are expected to include a bar on wearing full veils on public transport and in schools, hospitals and public-sector offices including post offices. The commission is thought likely to call for a total ban after further consultation.
President Nicolas Sarkozy launched a debate on veils last June, telling a special sitting of both houses of parliament that they were “not welcome” in France. He said last week the full veil was “contrary to our values and to the ideals we have of women’s dignity”.
André Gerin, the Communist MP who heads the commission, predicted the ban would be “absolute”. He has denounced what he called “French-style Talibans”. “The veil is only the visible part of the iceberg,” he said.
Opponents of a ban argue it would stigmatize Muslims. “France would be the only country in the world that sends its policemen … to stop in the street young women who are victims more than they are guilty,” wrote Laurent Joffrin, editor of the left-wing newspaper Libération. Police officers in some areas with large Muslim communities have warned that stopping women wearing veils would provoke riots.