News Agencies – August 19, 2011
In a civil protest against Muslim face veil ban in France and Belgium, French businessman Rachid Nekkaz has set up a fund to pay fines for Muslim women who choose to don niqab in public. “I’m in favor of a law to convict a husband who forces a women to wear the niqab and who forces her to stay at home,” told reporters outside the courtroom in Belgium, “But I’m also for a law that lets these women move freely in the streets, because freedom of movement, just like any freedom, is the most fundamental thing in a democracy.”
Nakkaz, a 38-year-old real-estate businessman based in Paris, travelled to Belgium to pay 100 euros for two women fined in the first case in the country since the law was adopted there. Earlier he paid a 75 euro fine for a woman in the north-eastern French town of Roubaix.
A French property tycoon enraged at his government’s plans to ban women from wearing the full veil in public has promised a fund of 1 million Euros to help any Muslim who is fined for wearing the niqab in the street. Rachid Nekkaz, a businessman of Algerian origin who launched a short-lived campaign in the 2007 presidential elections, has already put €200,000 into a bank account aimed at bailing out women who find themselves on the wrong side of the new law.
He insists that the ban, which was approved by the lower house of parliament on Tuesday and is set to be ratified by the senate in September, is “anti-constitutional” and a move that could put France on a slippery slope towards greater intolerance.
Nekkaz, who says his fund received €36,000 in donations in the 24 hours following its announcement and hopes it will reach €1m by September, is selling properties in the Parisian suburbs to keep the money coming in.