President Nicolas Sarkozy vil i mai legge frem et forslag om forbud mot burka og niqab på offentlig sted. I utgangspunktet var det snakk om å begrense det til offentlige institusjoner og steder som krever personkontroll.
Sarkozy gjør dette selv om landets øverste administrative organ tviler på legaliteten av et forbud.
Mr. Sarkozy wants a bill that goes farther than initial proposals, including a ban on wearing the full veil — the niqab, which leaves only the eyes uncovered, and the burqa, which is almost unknown in France — from streets, markets and shops, according to his spokesman, Luc Chatel.
The full veil «hurts the dignity of women and is unacceptable in French society,» Mr. Chatel quoted Mr. Sarkozy as telling the cabinet. The idea of a ban is popular with the French and with his own political party, while Mr. Sarkozy’s own standing in the opinion polls has rarely been lower.
An earlier proposal from a panel of the National Assembly suggested a bill banning the full veil in public places belonging to the state, like schools and public buildings, and in areas where facial recognition is vital for security reasons: airports, banks and even public transport.
Mr. Sarkozy’s push for broader restrictions was seen as a challenge to the Council of State, France’s top administrative authority, which warned in March that «a general and absolute ban on the full veil as such can have no incontestable judicial basis» and that it could be thrown out by the courts.
The council said it would be clearer legally to simply issue an order that women would have to uncover their faces for identity checks as required. A law had to be based on the protection of public order, the council said, not on the grounds of personal dignity.