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Veil woman to run for president

A Frenchwoman who wears an Islamic face veil despite a nationwide ban has declared she will run for the French presidency.

The declaration by Kenza Drider came as a French court fined two women who refuse to remove their veils.

All three are among a group of women mounting an attack on the law that has banned the garments from the streets of France since April, and prompted similar moves in other European countries.

They are bent on proving that the ban contravenes fundamental rights and that women who hide their faces stand for freedom, not submission.

"When a woman wants to maintain her freedom, she must be bold," Ms Drider said.

Polls show that most French people support the ban, which authorities estimate affects fewer than 2,000 women who wore the veil before the ban.

Ms Drider declared her candidacy in Meaux, the city east of Paris run by top conservative politician and Sarkozy ally Jean-Francois Cope, who championed the ban.

"I have the ambition today to serve all women who are the object of stigmatisation or social, economic or political discrimination," she said.

Two other women arrested for wearing veils in Meaux - while trying to deliver a birthday cake to Mr Cope - were fined in court, one for 120 euro (£105), the other for 80 euro (£70). They want to push their case to the European Court of Human Rights.

"We cannot accept that women be punished because they are openly practising their religious convictions. We are demanding the application of European rights," said one of those convicted, Hind Ahmas.

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