France burqa ban goes to parliament July 6
French lawmakers will begin on July 6 to debate a government proposal to ban the Muslim full-face veil from public spaces, a minister said on Tuesday.
The lower house National Assembly will read the bill before it passes to the Senate in September and it could be adopted into law soon after, said Henri de Raincourt, the minister for parliamentary relations.
The bill by President Nicolas Sarkozy's government proposes to ban anyone in France from wearing a garment "designed to hide the face" -- a move interpreted as targeting Muslim women who wear veils such as the niqab or burqa.
Those who break the law would be fined 150 euros (180 dollars) or sent on a course to learn the values of French citizenship.
Anyone who forces someone to cover her face because of her sex would be jailed for a year and fined 15,000 euros.
While Sarkozy's right-wing majority is expected to be able to push the law through parliament, constitutional experts have warned that it could be thrown out by judges and might fall foul of European law.
Opponents of the ban point to official figures that estimate that only 2,000 members of France's approximately five-million-strong Muslim population wear the full-face veil.
© 2010 AFP