Two Saudi clerics have declared Muslim women are exempt from wearing full veils in France, which is planning to ban them, but added they should avoid visiting it as tourists.
The comments, by Islamic jurisprudence scholar Mohamed al-Nujaimi and author and cleric Ayed al-Garni, come two weeks after French lawmakers passed a bill under which women could be fined for appearing in public with the all-covering burqa or the niqab, which leaves the eyes exposed. (Photo: Saudi women snapping photos in Riyadh, September 23, 2009/Fahad Shadeed)
“For a woman who permanently resides in France or is a French citizen, if there is harm in wearing the veil … it is permitted that she shows her face when need and necessity demand it,” Nujaimi said in remarks published by al-Watan newspaper.
The new law, which still has to be vetted by France’s highest constitutional authority and approved by the Senate, could make France the second European country after Belgium to criminalize the veil.
Saudi King Abdullah postponed a visit to Paris that was scheduled to start one day before the French parliament voted on the ban, although Saudi officials did not link this postponement to the vote.