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France to propose law banning full face veil in public: Sarkozy

[JURIST] French President Nicholas Sarkozy [official website, in French] said Wednesday that the government will introduce legislation to ban traditional Muslim face veils [transcript, in French; video, in French] in public places. Sarkozy's announcement comes weeks after a French parliamentary commission charged with investigating whether to enact laws banning the wearing of burqas [JURIST news archive] or other "full veils" released its report [text, PDF; in French] calling for a partial ban [JURIST report] that would apply in public facilities, including hospitals, schools, and public transportation, and to any individual attempting to receive public services. Sarkozy supported the commission's suggestions, saying:

The full veil is contrary to the dignity of women. The answer is to ban the full veil. The government will introduce a bill to ban consistent with the general principles of our law.

While many people in France approve of the proposed legislation [CNN report], such measures have also faced opposition [JURIST comment] from critics who say such a law would alienate France's Muslim minority and violate the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) [text], of which France is a signatory. Sarkozy did not give details about when or how the proposed law would take effect.

Also this week, lawmakers in Quebec introduced a bill that would ban women wearing full face veils from public services [Star report], such as receiving care at a hospital or going to a public university. Supporters of the bill, such as the Muslim Canadian Congress [advocacy website], argue that the proposed law would not violate human rights [JURIST comment] and would promote the ideals of a free and democratic society. Others say the bill only discriminates against Muslims while allowing for other types religious clothing.

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