French lawmakers move to ban Islamic face veils
A French bipartisan parliamentary commission proposed Tuesday measures to ban the wearing of Islamic full-length face veils on buses and other public services, DPA reported.
The report put forward by the 32-member commission recommended a general interdiction against wearing any facial covering in administrations, hospitals and "all public services, and therefore transportation."
"This measure would force individuals not only to show their faces at the entrance to a public service (area) but also to maintain their faces uncovered for as long as they remain (there)," the report read.
The ban on wearing on public transport what is known in France by the Afghan term burqa would not necessarily be mandated by a law, the head of the commission, Andre Gerin, said. Specific regulations could be drawn up.
However, he said the passing of a law banning face veils was "absolutely essential."
The report also recommended the adoption by the French Parliament of "a resolution condemning the wearing of the all-body Islamic veil as contrary to the values of the (French) Republic."
The commission rapporteur, Eric Raoult, told journalists, "We want to fight Islamic fundamentalism. And the burqa is a manifestation of that fundamentalism."
Gerin, a Communist lawmaker, said ominously that the presence of the Islamic veil "was only the tip of the iceberg."
Although it is estimated that at most 2,000 women in all of France wear the burqa, the issue has been at the forefront of political debate in France for months.
President Nicolas Sarkozy said that the wearing of the all-body veil represented "the submission of women," and those wearing the garment were not welcome on French soil.
In 2008, the Council of State, France's highest administrative court, ruled that wearing the burqa "represented a radical religious practise (that is) incompatible with the essential values of the French community, notably the equality of the sexes."