Veil ban is part of campaign to stigmatise French Muslims

Muslims in France say the government’s plan to fine women for wearing the Islamic veil is one in a string of political ploys that stigmatise them and pander to anti-Islamic prejudice.

Extracts from the law leaked on Friday propose to fine women 150 euros (200 dollars) for wearing a full-face veil in public, while anyone who forces a woman to wear one would face a year in jail and fine of 15,000 euros.

Some say giving police the power to fine Muslim women in the street is part of a worrying trend, after the government’s “national identity debate” and its targeting last week of a man accused of polygamy and radicalism.

Amid the polygamy controversy, bullets were fired at a mosque in Istres, southern France, and a halal butcher in Marseille. A French Muslim group, CFCM, said this signalled “a rise of racism and Islamophobia.”

“It’s getting tougher and tougher. It’s as if people have had something against us for a long time and now that the politicians are saying it, they are letting it all out,” said Mamadou Alpha Diallo, 73, outside a Paris mosque.

Muslims in France “have the impression that Islam is on trial,” added Dounia Bouzar, an anthropologist and high-profile commentator on Muslim affairs.

AFP, 30 April 2010