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France bans Islamic veil

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France bans Islamic veil

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PARIS – The French Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill banning the burqa-style Islamic veil on public streets and other places, a measure that affects fewer than 2 000 women but that has been widely seen as a symbolic defence of French values.
The Senate voted 246 to 1 in favour of the bill in a final step toward making the ban a law – though it now must pass muster with France’s constitutional watchdog. The bill was overwhelmingly passed in July in the lower house, the National Assembly.
Many Muslims believe the legislation is one more blow to France’s No. 2 religion, and risks raising the level of Islamophobia in a country where mosques, like synagogues, are sporadic targets of hate.
However, the law’s many proponents say it will preserve the nation’s values, including its secular foundations and a notion of fraternity that is contrary to those who hide their faces.
In an attempt to head off any legal challenges over arguments it tramples on religious and other freedoms, the leaders of both parliamentary houses said they had asked a special body to ensure it passes constitutional muster. The Constitutional Council has one month to rule.
The bill is worded to trip safely through legal minefields. For instance, the words “women”, “Muslim” and “veil” are not even mentioned in any of its seven articles. (AP)