London mayor says French veil ban 'anti-Muslim'

11th February 2004, Comments 0 comments

LONDON, Feb 10 (AFP) - A proposed French ban on Islamic headscarves from state schools is an "anti-Muslim measure", London mayor Ken Livingstone said Tuesday, warning that it pandered to racist sentiment in society.

LONDON, Feb 10 (AFP) - A proposed French ban on Islamic headscarves from state schools is an "anti-Muslim measure", London mayor Ken Livingstone said Tuesday, warning that it pandered to racist sentiment in society.

"It is an anti-Muslim measure and will stir up anti-Muslim pressure," Livingstone said.

"(French) President Jacques Chirac is playing a terribly, terribly dangerous game, in the same way that many politicians felt they could pander to Hitler in the '20s," Livingstone said.

"The only way to defeat fascism in Europe is to stand against every demand they (fascists) make," the mayor told a London press conference held to discuss the French vote.

Livingstone was speaking just before French lawmakers on Tuesday adopted the controversial bill, which will make it illegal to wear clothes or signs that "conspicuously" display affiliation to a faith.

Although it does not specify the items which would be barred, an experts' report listed the Jewish skullcap and "large" Christian crosses in addition to the Islamic headscarf.

Sikh turbans are also likely to be included, and Education Minister Luc Ferry has said bandanas and even beards could be barred if worn with the wrong intent.

The initiative, put forward by Chirac's ruling center-right party and supported by the left-wing opposition Socialists, was overwhelming approved by the National Assembly, and will now go to the upper chamber Senate.

Drafted in response to a perceived rise in religious radicalism among the country's estimated five million Muslims, it has enjoyed strong popular support in France but sparked criticism from rights groups abroad and governments of some Muslim countries.

Livingstone held the press conference in London along with representatives of several human rights organizations and spokespeople for British Muslim, Jewish, Sikh and Pentecostal communities.

© AFP

                                                              Subject: France news

 

0 Comments To This Article