France to target super-rich Muslim women in burkas


France to target super-rich Muslim women who wear burkas to prove ban is not biased against the poor

By Peter Allen and Ian Sparks
Last updated at 2:46 PM on 11th May 2010

Super-rich Muslim women who shop at luxury boutiques wearing black burkas are to be targeted by the French government in a clampdown on Islamic veils, it emerged today.

As parliament adopted a formal motion declaring such dress to be ‘an affront to the nation’s values’, French MPs made it clear that they were not stigmatising the poor.

Many have criticised the anti-burka lobby, which includes President Nicolas Sarkozy, for focusing on poor Muslim housewives living on housing estates.

But, as in London, some of the most high-profile women who cover their faces in public belong to women from fabulously wealthy families from the Gulf.

They are often seen in the designer stores around Paris’s Champs-Elysee and Avenue Montaigne, often paying hundreds of thousands for goods in cash.

As on the estates, many are forced to wear the veils because of pressure from authoritarian husbands.

The declaration released by the National Assembly states that: ‘Radical practices which violate the dignity and equality between men and women, such as the wearing of the full veil, are contrary to the values of the French Republic.’

It adds that Parliament ‘considers it necessary to put all appropriate measures in place to ensure the protection of women who are subjected to violence and pressure, and in particular are forced to wear the full veil.’

Today’s National Assembly declaration precedes a full parliamentary debate in July, with legislation expected later in the year to ban the burka completely.

This would make France the second country after Belgium to outlaw the Islamic veil in public places.

Bernard Accoyer, the French parliamentary speaker, said: ‘The whole of France will say no to the full veil and will ask that this practice be prohibited on the territory of the republic. It is an important measure.’

But the promise of a ban has prompted warnings of racial tensions in a country which is home some five million Muslims – one of the religion’s largest communities in Europe.

Opponents warn that the move will stigmatise them. Some have accused criminals of wearing veils to disguise themselves. This includes everything from terrorists to minor shop lifters.

Mr Sarkozy’s cabinet is to examine a draft bill which will impose one-year prison sentences and fines of up to £14,000 on men who force their wives to wear a burka.

Women themselves will face a smaller fine of just over £100 because they are ‘often victims with no choice in the matter,’ says the draft.

A source from Mr Sarkozy’s ruling UMP party said: ‘It is not just poor women who are victims, but also rich women from the Gulf and Middle East. We will be targeting them just as much as much as their counterparts from the estates.’

Details of the tough penalties that would be enforced under a French burka ban have already been reported by Le Figaro newspaper.

The law would create a new offence of ‘incitement to cover the face for reasons of gender’, the paper said.

And it would state: ‘No-one may wear in public places clothes that are aimed at hiding the face.’

Women would not be ‘unveiled’ in the street but instead taken to a police station to be formally identified, the draft law states.

Via the MailOnline, here. Click with caution, the page is full of inappropriate images. Such a comfort to know the super-rich will be affected by this, too.