French Call For Veil Ban In Public Buildings
A parliamentary panel will recommend on Tuesday that France ban face-covering Muslim veils in public locations such as hospitals and schools, but not in private buildings or on the street, the group’s president said.
The decision appeared to indicate that the 32-member, multiparty panel had heeded warnings that a full ban of the all-encompassing veils would be unfair, possibly unconstitutional, and could even cause trouble in a country where Islam is the second largest religion. The approximately 170-page report, to be released Tuesday, culminates a six-month inquiry into why a tiny minority of Muslim women wear such veils and the implications for France.
The work began after President Nicolas Sarkozy announced in June that such garb "is not welcome" on French territory. However, Sarkozy has since pulled back from committing himself to a full ban. Such dress is considered by many as a gateway to extremism. However, it also is widely seen as an insult to gender equality and an offense to France’s profoundly secular foundations.
Parliament will not be required to act on Tuesday’s recommendation. And given the deep divisions within the panel – its 12 Socialist members refused to vote in a dispute with the governing right – the recommendation for a partial ban on the face-covering veils may only result in a nonbinding government resolution.
The panel’s mission, and a separate national identity debate on immigration, already have left some of France’s Muslims feeling discriminated against, said Mohammed Moussaoui, who heads an umbrella group of various Muslim organizations. A 2004 law already bans Muslim headscarves in classrooms.