Parliamentary report backs burqa ban
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A French parliamentary committee’s much-awaited report on a partial ban of the burqa, or full Islamic veil, was made public Tuesday. The report, nearly 200-pages long, proposes to ban the burqa from public schools, hospitals and transport systems.
AFP - A French parliament report called Tuesday for a ban on the full Islamic veil in all schools, hospitals, public transport and government offices, saying the burqa was an affront to French values.
"The wearing of the full veil is a challenge to our republic. This is unacceptable," the report released by a parliament commission said. "We must condemn this excess."
After six months of hearings, the panel of 32 lawmakers recommended a ban on the face-covering veil in all state-run institutions and offices, the broadest move yet to restrict Muslim dress in France.
The commission called on parliament to adopt a formal resolution stating that the burqa was "contrary to the values of the republic" and proclaiming that "all of France is saying 'no' to the full veil."
Women who turn up at government offices wearing the full veil should be denied services such as a work visa, residency papers or French citizenship, the report recommended.
The panel however stopped short of proposing broad legislation to outlaw the burqa on the streets or in shopping centres after cautioning that such a move would have to be reviewed by the courts to establish its legality.
"The wearing of the full veil is the tip of the iceberg," said communist lawmaker Andre Gerin, the chair of the commission.
"There are scandalous practices hidden behind this veil," said Gerin who vowed to fight the "gurus" seeking to export a racial brand of fundamentalism and sectarianism to France.
Home to Europe's biggest Muslim minority, estimated at about six million, France is being closely watched at a time of particular unease over Islam, three months after Swiss voters approved a ban on minarets.
President Nicolas Sarkozy set the tone for the debate in June when he declared the burqa "not welcome" in France and described it as a symbol of women's "subservience" that cannot be tolerated in a country that considers itself a human rights leader.
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