Paris, Sept 15 (ANI): French senators have voted for a bill banning face veils in public places. They voted 246 to one in favour of the bill, already passed in the lower chamber.
According to the Daily Mail, the decision has come after President Nicolas Sarkozy pledged to outlaw the 'walking coffin' which is 'not welcome' in France, and which he blames for causing all kinds of social tensions.
In an attempt to stop men subjugating women, the bill states that if a man if convicted of forcing a woman to wear a veil he will be fined 24,000 pounds or jailed for a year. These sentences could be doubled if the victim is a minor.
Sarkozy argued that the law, which would apply to tourists arriving from countries such as Britain, is aimed at getting all Muslims to integrate fully into French society, the paper reports.
France is a secular country. This is probably the biggest reason why the bill was carefully worded to try and avoid any legal problems. It is called 'Forbidding the Dissimulation of the Face in the Public Space', and makes no mention of the words like 'woman,' 'veil,' 'Muslim' or 'Islam'.
Muslim leaders, however, have voiced concern that the law will stigmatise the French Muslim population, which at an estimated 5 million is the largest in Western Europe.
Some Muslim women criticised the move saying they would prefer to stay indoors rather than exposing their faces in public places.
"There is no way I'm going out if I can't cover my face. The ban is completely unfair and, indeed, illegal. It is designed to stigmatise Muslim women and to make us feel like criminals," 38-year-old Aicha from Juvisy, on the outskirts of Paris said. (ANI)