|France: Muslim Women With Full-Face Islamic Veils to Be Fined|
The French government decided on Wednesday, May 20th it will impose $185 fine on women who wear a full-face Islamic veil in public, pushing ahead with a controversial ban despite signs of tension between France's Muslims and the Christian-tradition majority. President Nicolas Sarkozy said his government was forwarding the legislative to parliament because it had a "moral responsibility" to uphold traditional European values in the face of an increasing visible Muslim population, estimated at more than 5 million, the largest in Western Europe. France is one of several Western European countries seeking to forbid the full-face veil, called the burqa in Afghanistan and the niqab in North Africa. Belgium's Chamber of Representatives last month approved a nationwide ban, which must not be considered by the Senate. The French proposal has drawn heavy support, up to 60 percent of those questioned in opinion polls saying restraints are necessary. The French legislation approved by the full cabinet is scheduled to come to a vote in the National Assembly in July and in the Senate in September. A resolution condemning the full veil is contrary to the values of the French republic passed with an overwhelming majority last week. The Constitutional Council, France's highest constitutional court, has issued two opinions warning that the full public ban will be vulnerable to challenge in the courts as an infringement on religious freedom. It also could be challenged in the European Court of Human Rights, but Sarkozy vowed to move forward anyway.
"France moves to fine Muslim women with full-face Islamic veils," Washington Post, 5/20/2010; http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/05/19/AR2010051901653.html