|A tiny minority of Muslims wear veils in France.|
PARIS - A French parliamentary panel will recommend a ban on face-covering Muslim veils in public areas from hospitals to schools but will stop short of pressing for the garb to be outlawed on the street, the panel’s president says.
The 32-member panel’s report due today culminates a six-month inquiry into the wearing of all-encompassing veils that began after President Nicolas Sarkozy said in June that they are not welcome on French territory.
Andre Gerin, a Communist lawmaker who heads the multiparty panel, said the report contains a “multitude of proposals’’ to ban such garb in places like schools, hospitals, and other public buildings, but not private buildings or on the street. He said the proposals would cover “domains that concern everyday society,’’ a phrase that would seem to include public transportation, although he did not mention that specifically.
Gerin stressed the need to move progressively toward a law banning the attire in the streets and to work hand in hand with Muslim leaders and associations.
Critics of the veils call them a gateway to extremism, an insult to gender equality, and an offense to France’s secular system. A 2004 French law bans Muslim headscarves from classrooms.
Muslim religious leaders have warned that a law banning face-covering attire in the streets could stigmatize Muslims and drive some to extremism. They were joined last week by Roman Catholic and Jewish leaders, who said they consider such a step drastic and unnecessary.
France has Western Europe’s largest Muslim population, estimated at 5 million.