The full face veil is not totally banned in France, but plans are underway for a further clampdown on the Islamic religious symbol. A Parliamentary commission is set to report its findings tomorrow. It is not expected to recommend a complete ban, however it is thought likely the commission will propose the veil be outlawed in certain areas – notably public buildings and transport. Driving with the outfit would also be illegal. The ban aims to target both the Niqab and the Burqa, which both cover the body from head to toe, the Niqab leaving a narrow slit open for the eyes.
Andre Gerin, a communist MP, is head of the parliamentary commission.
‘‘It might only be a small problem, but it’s only the tip of the iceberg. Behind this iceberg there is a black tide of fundamentalism. A kind of Sharia might happen in certain countries, but this must not happen here. It completely contradicts our way of life, the rules of the French Republic.’‘
The parliamentary commission’s work began some six months ago after being appointed by French President Nicola Sarkozy last June. Addressing parliament he said:
‘‘We cannot accept that in our country woman are prisoners trapped behind a grill, cut off from society, deprived of an identity. This is not a principle of the French Republic,’‘ the president said.
According to official figures, only some 2000 Muslim women wear the full veil. Many feel singled out by the proposals. Nevertheless, polls suggest a sizeable majority of the French public, some 65 percent, support the proposed ban.