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Movement against burqa gaining momentum

`Full-length veil to be un-French’

`Ban burqas from French public offices, hospitals, transportation


woman_veiled.png28 January 2010: The movement against wearing a burka in this part of the world is gaining momentum. Just about 10 days after the UK Independence party said burka was also a symbol of something used to oppress women, voices against the Islamic full-body veil can be clearly heard in France.

A parliamentary investigation has suggested burkas should be banned from French public offices, hospitals, trains and buses.

The committee of inquiry rejected the demand of several members of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s ruling centre-right party for an outright ban on the burka or niqab.

It was of the opinion that the possibility of such a ban being declared unconstitutional under French and European law could not be ruled out.

A narrow majority of 32 members, however, accepted a compromise suggested by the President and Prime Minister François Fillon; and called for a somber, but unenforceable parliamentary motion declaring the full-length veil to be "un-French". They were of the opinion that the move should be soon followed by a law forbidding people to cover their faces in "official" public spaces, from hospitals to post offices.

Over 50 per cent of French think the full-length veil – a marginal but growing phenomenon in France – offends the French Republican values of liberty and equality. As such, it should be banned.

Moderate Islamic leaders too have aired their views against burka, but are apprehensive that a prohibitory order might push away moderate Muslims. In fact, Hassen Chalghoumi, a judicious imam who publicly condemned the burka was denounced as a "miscreant" and "apostate". As many as 80 men barged into a prayer meeting at his mosque in Drancy, north of Paris, only recently.

As of now the total number of women wearing both full-body veil is around 1,900. The total French population of adult, Muslim women is approximately 2 million.

In Britain, the British national party (BNP) has adopted a motion for banning burka from public view.

Nigel Farage, who heads the UK Independence party’s 13 MEPs, recently asserted he was not in favour of Muslim women covering their faces. Besides security reasons, they were also a symbol of a divided Britain, he said.

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