The parliamentary leader of the ruling French party is to put forward a draft law within two weeks to ban the full-body veil from French streets and all other public places.
The announcement by Jean-François Copé, cutting short an anguished six-month debate on the burka and its Arab equivalent, the niqab, will divide both right and left and is likely to anger President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Mr Copé, in an interview with Le Figaro to be published tomorrow, said that he would bring forward a law which would impose fines of up to €750 (£675) on anyone appearing in public “with their face entirely masked”.
See also the Daily Star which reports, under the headline “Women to be fined for wearing Burkas”, that “Strict new laws are being considered in France to tackle Islamic extremism. And campaigners want the same tough penalties in the UK.” Who exactly are these campaigners, you may ask. Well, the Star has found two.
One is right-wing Christian extremist Stephen Green who tells the Star: “We ought to assert our Christian heritage as strongly as France does its secular heritage. There’s no doubt the burka is culturally divisive. Measures like fines would send out a great signal. If we don’t take action against Islam now we are going to see terrible problems in this country in 30 years’ time.”
Bizarrely, the Star informs its readers that “many leading Muslim groups believe the burka should be outlawed in Britain”. But the only example they offer is Diana Nammi of the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation, not hitherto known as a leading Muslim group, who is quoted as saying: “We support bans anywhere in the world.”
Looks like Damian Thompson’s proposal for an alliance between secularists and right-wing Christians on the basis of a common hatred of Islam is already being implemented.