President Nicolas Sarkozy’s ruling party will push for a law banning the full-face Islamic veil in order to defend France from “extremists”, the party’s parliamentary leader has said.
Jean-Francois Cope laid out his plans for new legislation in a newspaper article, which appeared just as three ministers were to testify before a parliamentary panel set up to consider whether to ban the full veil.
“The issue is not how many women wear the burqa,” Cope wrote in the Paris newspaper Le Figaro.
“There are principles at stake: extremists are putting the republic to the test by promoting a practice that they know is contrary to the basic principles of our country,” he said.
The new legislation will be enacted after a period of consultation with Muslim communities in France “so that this measure is understood for what it is: a law of liberation and not a ban”, he wrote.
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 bar Muslim women from wearing the full-face veil, known as a burqa or niqab.
Sarkozy has proclaimed the burqa “not welcome” in secular France but he has not waded into the debate on whether legislation should be enacted.