Lower house of par­lia­ment votes to ban veils in France

Austin American-Statesman - - WEDNESDAYBRIEFING -

PARIS — The French par­lia­ment’s lower house en­acted a sweep­ing but con­sti­tu­tion­ally vul­ner­a­ble law Tues­day bar­ring women from wear­ing full-face Is­lamic veils any­where in pub­lic.

The Na­tional Assem­bly’s de­ci­sion, by a 335-1 vote, was sched­uled for a vote in the Se­nate in Septem­ber. If rat­i­fied, the law will make France the sec­ond Western Euro­pean nation af­ter Bel­gium to ban out­right what has be­come the most prom­i­nent sym­bol of the grow­ing Mus­lim pres­ence in Europe.

The law is ex­pected to pass as eas­ily in the Se­nate, but it will also be re­viewed by the Con­sti­tu­tional Coun­cil, France’s high­est tri­bunal, to de­ter­mine whether it is com­pat­i­ble with con­sti­tu­tional guar­an­tees of re­li­gious free­dom.

The Coun­cil of State, a pres­ti­gious ad­vi­sory body, has al­ready warned that an out­right ban would be vul­ner­a­ble to chal­lenges on con­sti­tu­tional grounds.

The leg­is­la­tion would im­pose a $185 fine or cit­i­zen­ship lessons — or both — on women caught out­side their homes wear­ing full-face veils. It also would set a fine of $38,000 and a one-year prison term for any­one con­victed of forc­ing women and girls to wear such veils.

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