Women in France fined for wearing face veils | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 22.09.2011
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Women in France fined for wearing face veils

France's burqa ban, in force since April, is not just for show. A court outside Paris has fined two women for wearing the full Islamic face veil in public.

A woman in a niqab

Officials estimate only about 2,000 women wear the full veil

A French police court on Thursday convicted two women for wearing Islamic face veils in public.

Hind Ahmas, 32, was ordered to pay a 120-euro ($160) fine, while Najate Nait Ali, 36, was fined 80 euros. The court in Meaux, outside Paris, decided not to order them to take a citizenship course, as had been requested by the prosecutor.

It's the first court conviction since a ban on wearing the veils came into effect in April.

'Violates basic rights'

Gilles Devers, the women's attorney, told the German press agency dpa that he would appeal their conviction, claiming the ban violates the women's basic rights.

"The problem is not the fine. The problem is that these women are effectively under house arrest. That's the real punishment," said Devers.

If the fines are confirmed by a higher court, it's expected that the women will take their case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

France was the first European country to outlaw the wearing of the Islamic face veils, known as the burqa and the niqab, in public. Dozens of women have received on the spot fines, but this is the only case that has gone to court.

Author: Sarah Harman (AFP, dpa)
Editor: Martin Kuebler

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