The French are getting a pair.
(AP) – A woman driver wearing an Islamic face veil has been fined by French police for not having a clear field of vision. The fine was small, but it garnered big attention Friday and may illustrate what is to come as the president pushes to outlaw the veils nationwide. Traffic police in the western city of Nantes fined the 31-year-old woman euro22 ($29) in early April, her lawyer said. The fine was based on a rule that says drivers should have freedom of movement and a sufficient field of vision, lawyer Jean-Michel Pollono said.
Pollono said Friday that he is protesting the decision, saying a veil is no different from a motorcycle helmet in terms of hindrance to vision. The driver gave a news conference Friday—while wearing the niqab veil, which covers the entire face except for the eyes—and expressed “a feeling of injustice” over the incident.
President Nicolas Sarkozy raised the stakes Wednesday in France’s drive to abolish the all-encompassing veil, ordering a draft law banning them in all public places. He insists the veils oppress women, and decided to defy France’s highest administrative body, which says such a full ban could be found unconstitutional.
“A French citizen cannot be fined based on the way he or she dresses,” Pollono said. “If the veil is forbidden behind the wheel, then nuns should not be able to drive, and full helmets for motorcyclists should be banned, because you can’t see on the sides, and even some police units who drive with masks should be fined.”
Sarkozy’s move angered Muslims in the Arab world and worried Muslims in France, who fear they are being stigmatized because of a very small minority of women in France who cover their faces with niqabs or burqas. A leading French conservative lawmaker who has been at the forefront of the push against the veils, Jean-Francois Cope, has been given police protection, officials said Friday.
The woman was not named in the press release as is normally the case. She’s under a burka, you don’t need to know her name.