French driver fined for wearing niqab, most French want a ban

By Reuters Staff
April 25, 2010
niqab anne 2

(Anne, an assumed name, a 31-year old French woman who has been fined for wearing a niqab while driving, at a news conference in Nantes, April 23, 2010/Stephane Mahe)

A 31-year-old French woman has been fined for wearing a niqab while driving, a further sign of France’s bid to clamp down on the face-covering Islamic veil which President Nicolas Sarkozy says demeans women. The unnamed woman told LCI television that police stopped her last month while she was driving in Nantes, near the French Atlantic coast.

She was wearing a black niqab, that covers the face but leaves the eyes exposed. Police handed her a 22-euro ($29) fine, saying her clothing posed a “safety risk” to her driving. “My eyes were not covered. I can see just like you and my field of vision was not obstructed,” said the woman, who did not give her name. She said she would appeal against the decision.

Also on Friday, the Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux requested the Immigration Ministry look into revoking the naturalised French nationality of the driver’s husband as information he possessed showed the man was a polygamist married to four women with 12 children. Read the full story here.

An opinion poll published on Saturday showed that two-thirds of French people want a law limiting the use of face-covering Islamic veils such as the niqab and the burqa, with only a minority backing the government’s plan for a complete ban.

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("Anne," April 23, 2010/Stephane Mahe)

The TNS Sofres/Logica poll showed that 33 percent of French people want a complete ban, while a further 31 percent want a more narrow law applying only to certain public spaces.  The results were roughly the same for men and women. Support for some kind of legal restriction on the full veil cut across age groups, professions and political affiliation, though it was stronger among right-wing voters — more than 80 percent of them favored a law.

President Nicolas Sarkozy’s government is expected to present a bill in May on banning full veils from the public sphere, against the advice of legal experts who recommend a milder rule focusing on state institutions. Read the full story here.

The Swiss Muslim intellectual Tariq Ramadan, in Nantes for a conference scheduled before this incident, accused Hortefeux of betraying France’s values by suggesting the Algerian-born husband  be stripped of his French nationality.

What do you think about the French debate about the niqab?

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One comment

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first of all i find this unfair. as yuh can obliviously see her eyes r not covered. im a 14 year old muslim who take this offensive, and yeah i wear a niqab i dont care. i dont find dizz fair, if yuh had eyes yuh could see tht her eyes were open. im mad riite now cuzz people just wanna be mean. if she couldnt see she would like 6 accidents while driving but use yur eyes and yur brain her eyes are not covered. if i wass her i would have put tht niqab on yur face nd yuh tell meh if yuh could see. im 14 and i wear tht in dha bronx,ny

Posted by isatou | Report as abusive