The French government says it may impose restrictions on wearing the
burqa, or face-and-body-covering veil, if a parliamentary probe finds
the garment degrading for women. The burqa debate is dividing politicians and the Muslim
Government spokesman Luc Chatel became the latest
politician to wade into a growing debate over the burqa in France,
telling French television on Friday the government may consider curbs
on wearing the head-to-toe garment if it is found to be degrading for
A group of nearly 60 French lawmakers are asking for a
parliamentary panel to consider restrictions on the burqa, which is
also called the niqab.
Burqas are not at all common in France,
but women can occasionally be spotted wearing them in the streets. And
in this staunchly secular country, the garment has sparked a fierce
debate, dividing the center right government and even the Muslim
community. Many, like immigration minister Eric Besson, are airing
their views in a series of radio and television interviews.
is against banning the burqa. He says France already bars female civil
servants from wearing veils or headscarves to work and girls
wearing them to school. He supports education and dialogue, rather than more laws, to persuade women from wearing burqas.
But Cities minister Fadela Amera - a Muslim of Algerian background - is for legislation.
Amara says it's important to fight against extremism and she supports banning the burqa in France.
The head of the Paris Grand Mosque, Dalil Boubakeur, is also against the burqa.
says that Islam in France must be an open Islam. He says there's no
need for women to hide behind the veil. But France's main French
Council for the Muslim Religion is against a parliamentary inquiry into
wearing the burqa, saying it stigmatizes Islam and Muslims.
debate over the veil is an old one in France. The government's 2004 ban
on headscarves and other religious symbols in public schools was highly
controversial. Other European countries are also troubled by the burqa.
The Dutch government for one has been pushing for a law to ban it.