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'French PM wants anti-burqa measures'

French Prime Minister Francois Fillon on Tuesday told lawmakers he was in favour of banning the full Islamic veil through a raft of legal and parliamentary measures, deputies said.

world Updated: Jan 12, 2010 22:59 IST

French Prime Minister Francois Fillon on Tuesday told lawmakers he was in favour of banning the full Islamic veil through a raft of legal and parliamentary measures, deputies said.

Fillon told a meeting of deputies from his governing right-wing UMP party that parliament should adopt a resolution outlining France's rejection of the burqa and that several "legislative texts and regulations" should follow.

The prime minister waded into a heated debate over whether to bar Muslim women from wearing the full veil, known as the niqab or burqa, just weeks before a parliamentary panel was due to release a report on the issue.

Many politicians from the left and right have cautioned that a draconian law banning the head-to-toe veil would be difficult to enforce and probably face a challenge in the European rights court.

"The goal is to ensure that the burqa does not have a place in France," Fillon said, according to one lawmaker.

The ban on the full veil must be applied "through a resolution that is sufficiently firm to outline the principles and through legislative texts and regulations to apply these principles," he said.

Home to Europe's biggest Muslim minority, France set up the special panel six months ago to consider whether a law should be enacted to ban the burqa.

Sarkozy himself has said that the burqa is not welcome in France but has not stated publicly whether legislation should be enacted.