Law on burqa soon, says French Envoy

via PNS | New Delhi published on February 10, 2010

Despite stiff opposition by Muslim community in different parts of the world, France on Wednesday said it would soon bring a law to ban wearing the full veil, niqab, and the burqa by women in public places.

Explaining his country’s position on the sensitive issue, French Ambassador Jerome Bonnafont said wearing a burqa or nikab in public places in France was in contradiction of the principles of freedom and equality.

“If someone does not feel at ease with French laws why should they stay in France,” Bonnafont asked.

Citing security threats as one of the reasons that full veil could not be allowed, the Ambassador said it is difficult to distinguish whether a burqa-clad person was a male or a female.

He also argued that wearing a burqa in public places undermines the gender equality and the struggle for equal rights. France has already banned display of religious symbols at Government schools. France is home to five million Muslims, the largest concentration in Europe, and Islam is the country’s second most practiced religion.

According to estimates, nearly 2,000 women wear the burqa or the niqab in the public. Most of these women are believed to be migrants from former French colonies in Africa.

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