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French driver fined for wearing veil

Associated Press / April 24, 2010

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NANTES, France — A woman wearing an Islamic face veil while driving was fined by French police for not having a clear field of vision. The fine was small, but it garnered big attention yesterday 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 $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 he is protesting the decision, saying a veil is no different from a motorcycle helmet in terms of hindrance to vision.

The driver spoke yesterday — while wearing the niqab, which covers the entire face except for the eyes — and expressed “a feeling of injustice.’’

“I didn’t commit any infraction,’’ said the driver, who declined to give her name. “I see just as well as you. . . . I have driven like this for nine years. I’ve not had any problems.’’

The driver is French by nationality. The lawyer said she had never been stopped until now, after months of parliamentary discussion and government talk about possibly banning the veils.