A ban on full-face Islamic veils in public has been overwhelmingly backed by the French parliament.
Overwhelming support in the Senate followed approval in the lower house in July. Barring a constitutional challenge, the ban will come into force next spring, making France the first European country to outlaw the burqa or niqab. But those backing the move deny it has anything to do with religion, insisting it is a question of dignity and equality.
“To see without being seen undeniably constitutes a break in equality and at the same time an offence against human dignity, especially against women’s dignity,” said Senator Francois-Noël Buffet.
Belgium moved in April to ban all clothing that covers or partially covers the face, but parliament was dissolved before a final vote could be taken.
Calls to outlaw the veil have been gaining ground across Europe. Opinion polls in Italy, Spain, Germany and Britain have indicated widespread public support.