09/15/2010, 00.00
ISLAM - FRANCE
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French Senate passes law banning the burqa in public

Moderate reactions - so far – from the Islamic world. Appreciated by women, who see it as a choice for modernity. The law provides for a six-month period of "education", then a woman who chooses to defy the ban will receive a fine of 150 Euros, a man who forces a woman to go veiled will be fined 30 thousand.

Paris (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The French Senate approved the law prohibiting the wearing of the burka or the niqab in public, which completely covers the face. So far reactions from the Islamic world have been quite moderate.

The law, already approved by parliament two months ago, yesterday passed by 246 votes in favour and one against. In general, the left abstained considering it "unconstitutional" and for fear of losing the support of the Islamic world.

The prohibition on covering the face in public (without precise references to Islam) now has six months of "mediation" and "education" to help women understand its value. As of April 2011, every woman who covers her face will be fined 150 Euros. Those who force a woman to cover will be fined 30 000 Euros.

Similar laws are under discussion in Belgium, Spain and parts of Italy. It is estimated that 1900 women wear the burqa in France.

So far the reactions of the Islamic world have been rather tepid. Some individual comments on Arabic sites defend the use of full veil as a personal and religious choice, which the state has no right to intervene. But comments by some (Muslim?) women welcome the decision as a choice for modernity. Michele Alliot-Marie, French Minister of Justice, advocate of the law, said that it is not against religion. "France - he said - the home of secularism, guarantees respect for all religions, but hiding one’s face under a full veil is against public social order, whether it is forced or voluntary”.

The President of the Indonesian Ulema Council, Amidhan said he is against the law, but that it is not very important, not even for Indonesia, where there is no tradition of the burqa.

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