Veils To Be Outlawed in France?

Get ready for more trouble on the European Muslim-relations front: Le Monde reports today that one French legislator, Jean-François Copé, has expressed his intention to introduce legislation forbidding the wearing of a veil in “places open to the public,” to be punished by a hefty €750 fine, also applicable to people “who oblige a women to wear a full veil”. He proposes this in an interview to appear in the issue of the right-wing magazine Le Figaro to be published over the coming weekend; Le Monde has simply managed to blow the whistle early on what is presumably the most news-worthy component of that piece.

This matters because Copé is head of the group of parliamentarians in the French National Assembly that belong to the UMP (Union pour un Mouvement Populaire) which is also President Nicolas Sarkozy’s party – and because it would seem that the European political scene could use a break from this sort of measure in the wake of the referendum in Switzerland last November that forbade the building of minarets there. Strangely, in his interview Copé also mentions that his proposed law would incorporate “a period for dialogue of six months between the date of application of the law and the date of promulgation to permit a phase for discussion and mediation with the concerned persons.” That seems a strange way to proceed – legislate first, discuss later – and is unlikely to salve the feelings of the Muslim inhabitants of the country against whom this law clearly is aimed.

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