“Almost unanimous” – French Senate seals comprehensive ban on the burqa
The French Senate voted almost unanimously to ban face-covering Islamic veils in public, clearing the final legislative hurdle for a bill whose supporters have been accused of stigmatising the country’s Muslim population.
With 246 votes for and just one against, the bill sailed through the upper house of parliament after having already been passed by the Assemblée nationale in July. Barring a last-minute challenge from critics who believe it is unconstitutional, the ban should come into effect in spring of next year.
“The full veil dissolves a person’s identity in that of a community. It calls into question the French model of integration, founded on the acceptance of our society’s values,” said justice minister Michèle Alliot-Marie, presenting the law to the Senate. Living with one’s face uncovered, she added, was “a question of dignity and equality”.
A blanket ban which goes far further than initial proposals to prevent women from wearing niqabs or burqas in public services such as hospitals and buses, the law passed will make it illegal for anyone to cover their face – with certain exceptions – anywhere in public in France.