Burqa ban called into question by high French court
The French highest administrative court, the Council of State, said Tuesday that there was probably no legal foundation for a total ban of the Islamic all-body veil, or burqa, the daily Le Monde reported.
In an opinion delivered to Prime Minister Francois Fillon, the council - a government body that also provides the executive branch with legal advice - said that such a ban "could find no indisputable basis in law."
The council noted that "only the demands of public security and the fight against fraud" could serve as a solid legal basis for a law to ban the burqa. But that would apply only "to special circumstances of time and place."
The opinion makes it unlikely that President Nicolas Sarkozy would succeed in his oft-expressed wish to pass a law to forbid wearing the burqa on French soil, DPA reported.
He last declared that wish on March 24, in a major policy statement following his party's heavy defeat in regional elections.
"The all-body veil is contrary to the dignity of women. The answer is to ban it. The government will introduce a bill to ban it that conforms to the principles of our laws," Sarkozy told journalists in Paris.
On Monday, Fillon told lawmakers from his and Sarkozy's UMP party that he wanted "to go as far as possible on the path to a general ban" of the burqa.