Lower house of parliament votes to ban veils in France
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.