Belfast Telegraph

Home News World

Women defy French ban on veils

France's ban on Islamic veils has been met with a burst of defiance, as women appeared with their faces covered in front of Notre Dame cathedral in Paris.

Two were detained for taking part in an unauthorised protest.

France became the world's first country to ban the veils anywhere in public after president Nicolas Sarkozy declared they imprisoned women and contradicted national values of dignity and equality.

About a dozen people, including three women wearing niqab veils with just a slit for the eyes, protested in front of Notre Dame, saying the ban was an affront to their freedom of expression and religion.

Much larger crowds of police, journalists and tourists filled the square.

Two of the veiled women were taken away by police who said they were detained because the protest was not authorised and they refused to disperse.

It was unclear whether the women were fined for wearing a veil. The law says veiled women risk a 150 euro (£133) fine or having to attend special citizenship classes, but not jail.

Those who force women to wear a veil are subject to up to a year in prison and a 30,000 euro fine (£26,500).

Although only a small minority of France's five million Muslims wear the veil, many see the ban as a stigma against the country's second biggest religion.

The ban affects women who wear the niqab, which has just a slit for the eyes, and the burka which has a mesh screen over the eyes.

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.


From Belfast Telegraph