French panel calls for burqa ban

PARIS: A French parliament report called Tuesday for a ban on the full Islamic veil, saying Muslim women who wear the burqa were mounting an "unacceptable" challenge to French values.

After six months of hearings, a panel of 32 lawmakers recommended a ban on the face-covering veil in all schools, hospitals, public transport and government offices, the broadest move yet to restrict Muslim dress in France.

"The wearing of the full veil is a challenge to our republic. This is unacceptable," the report said. "We must condemn this excess."

The commission however stopped short of proposing broad legislation to outlaw the burqa in the streets, in shopping centres and other public venues after raising doubts about its constitutionality.

"The wearing of the full veil is the tip of the iceberg," said communist lawmaker Andre Gerin, the chair of the commission, who presented the report to the parliament speaker.

"There are scandalous practices hidden behind this veil," said Gerin who vowed to fight the "gurus" he said were seeking to export a radical brand of fundamentalism and sectarianism to France.

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