French women fined for breaching veil ban

Paris court issues its first ruling on controversial new law passed in April after parliamentary approval.

Face-veil ban, France
French police have issued several on-the-spot fines since the controversial ban came into effect in April [File: EPA]

Two French women who continue to wear the full-face veil in defiance of a new law banning it in France have been fined.

Thursday’s court ruling on the controversial new ban follows a law approved by parliament in April.

They were both fined a total of 200 euros ($271) by a French court, in what many believe is a test case.

Al Jazeera’s Emma Hayward, reporting from Paris, said the court’s decision to fine these women “was no great surprise really because we knew this was always going to be a test case here in France”.

Police have issued several on-the-spot fines since the ban came into effect in April but these are the first court-issued fines, with the women vowing to appeal their case all the way to the European Court of Human Rights.

Speaking to our correspondent, Rachid Nekkaz, a French businessman, explained why he had decided to pay the fines for these women.

Al Jazeera’s Tim Friend reports on the ban that came into force in April amid some defiance [Al Jazeera]

“I consider the freedom of movement in a democracy is very important and I can’t accept that my government [has] voted [for] a law [which] doesn’t respect the European constitution,” he said.

“I think it is important to help these women to remain free on [the] streets.”

Despite a nationwide ban, a Frenchwoman who wears a full-face veil, wants to run for president in next year’s elections.

In an interview with the Associated Press news agency, Kenza Drider said she wants to defend the rights of all French women.

She is among a group of women mounting an attack on the law that has banned the full-face veil from the streets of France since April.

They want to prove the measure contravenes fundamental rights.

Supporters of the law, including French President Nicolas Sarkozy, say the veils imprison women.

Drider said she planned to declare her candidacy on Thursday in Meaux, a city east of Paris run by senior conservative politician and Sarkozy ally Jean-Francois Cope, who championed the veil ban.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies