French Court Fines 2 Women for Breaking Burqa Ban

Posted September 22nd, 2011 at 12:51 pm (UTC-5)
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A French court has for the first time fined two Muslim women for wearing full-face veils in public in a case that could have legal implications across Europe.

Hind Ahmas was fined $160 in the northern town of Meaux, east of Paris, for flouting the burqa ban Thursday, while Najate Naitali received a fine of $107 . Police have previously issued on-the-spot citations to veiled women since the ban came into effect in April, but the fines Thursday were the first ordered by a court. Only a tiny percentage of Muslim women in France wear the burqa or niqab veils.

Both women plan to take legal action to end the ban, and say they will appeal their case all the way to the European Court of Human Rights. A victory there could affect European countries considering similar bans, and in Belgium and Italy, where burqa bans have already been passed.

Meanwhile Kenza Drider, a Muslim who wears a veil, announced her candidacy for France's presidency in next year's election. Drider, who offered support to the two women in Meaux, told the Associated Press the burqa ban violates fundamental rights and gives citizens the right to insult women for openly practicing their religious convictions.

Drider, however, is considered unlikely to be able to collect the 500 signatures from elected officials necessary to get her name on the ballot.