"Those who have struggled for women's rights back home in their own countries - I'm thinking particularly of Algeria - we know what it represents and what the obscurantist political project is that lies behind it, to confiscate the most fundamental of liberties," she said.

The comments came as French legislators conduct hearings on whether to ban the burka after President Nicolas Sarkozy said it was "not welcome" in secular France, home to Europe's biggest Muslim minority.