Muslim woman fined for driving veiled in France

23rd April 2010, Comments 0 comments

The lawyer for a French Muslim woman fined for driving while wearing a full-face veil accused police on Friday of abusing her human rights, as the government pushes to ban the garment.

Police stopped the 31-one-year-old in the western city of Nantes and fined her 22 euros (29 dollars) on the grounds that her niqab -- an Islamic veil with a slit for the eyes -- restricted her view so she could not drive safely.

"This fine is not justified on road safety grounds and constitutes a breach of human and women's rights," Jean-Michel Pollono, the lawyer for the woman who was not named, told AFP.

He insisted his client could "move freely" and "her field of vision was in no way obstructed." He added that "the field of vision of a motorcycle rider wearing a helmet is more restricted."

President Nicolas Sarkozy's government said Wednesday it would push ahead with a ban on wearing a full-face veil in public, despite a warning from state judicial experts that such a law could be unconstitutional.

There is strong support in parliament for such a ban and the government is determined to press on with a law, which it says would affect only around 2,000 Muslim French women who currently cover their faces.

Pollono said he had complained formally to the state prosecutor. "The ball is clearly in the authorities' court," he said. "Currently no law forbids the wearing of the niqab."

The local authorities said the officer involved legally had discretion to decide whether there was a danger. He "was doing his job. He judged that in the circumstances there was a risk to security," a police source said.

© 2010 AFP

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