France has moved closer to banning the full Islamic veil after the government approved a draft law to be voted on by lawmakers this summer.
If approved by both houses of parliament, it will become an offence to cover one’s face in public by wearing with the burqa or the niqab.
French Justice Minister Michele Alliot-Marie told reporters the government would work with religious associations and local authorities “to convince” and “explain why living together in our society means being able to see each others faces.”
But the proposals have angered many among France’s five-million strong Muslim minority, which is the largest in Europe.
Kenza, a Muslim woman from Avignon, southern France, decried the ban as giving the French “the right to become Islamophobic.
“It’s to scare them into believing women that wear the full veil are all terrorists. They’re giving them the right to attack us,” she said.
Under the proposed law, there will be a six-month grace period. After that, those who flout the ban will be fined 150 euros or be made to take citizenship classes.
Anyone forcing women to wear the veil could face a year’s jail or a 15,000-euro fine.