Face-covering veils may be banned in France

Parliamentary report wants veil outlawed in public facilities, including hospitals and mass transit

A parliamentary panel has issued a nearly 200-page report containing several measures intended to dissuade women from wearing veils in France. It also recommends refusing residency and citizenship to anyone with visible signs of a “radical religious practice.” But there is no call to outlaw such garments—worn by a small minority of Muslims—in private areas and in the street. A full ban was the major issue that divided the 32-member, multiparty panel which ultimately heeded warnings that a full ban risked being deemed unconstitutional. Conservative lawmaker Eric Raoult, the panel’s No. 2 member, said later that he foresaw a limited ban in the public sector “before the end of the year.” As envisaged by the panel, a ban would require that people show their faces when entering a public facility and, “keep the face uncovered throughout their presence.” Failure to do so would result “in a refusal to deliver the service demanded.” That means, for instance, that a woman seeking state funds commonly accorded to mothers would walk away empty-handed. The veil is widely viewed in France as a gateway to extremism, an insult to gender equality and an offence to France’s secular foundation. A 2004 French law bans Muslim headscarves from primary and secondary school classrooms.

Canadian Press