22 Sep 2011

First women in France fined for wearing niqab

10:08 pm on 22 September 2011

Two women in France have become the first people to be fined for publicly wearing the full Muslim face veil, the niqab.

France banned people from covering their faces with the veil in all public places in April this year.

Hind Amas and Kenza Drider were caught wearing the niqab in public outside Meaux town hall in eastern Paris in May, the BBC reports.

They become the first of 91 women stopped by French police to be handed the €150 fine.

Amas, 32, a divorced single mother said the decision to wear the niqab was her own.

Since the ban was introduced, Amas has been banned from all public spaces including banks, shops and buses, and been verbally and physically assaulted in the street on more than one occasion.

She and fellow campaigner Drider, a mother-of-three, have become the champions for several hundred women in France who insist wearing the niqab is a personal choice and a right enshrined by European law.

The women say they will appeal all the way to the European Court of Human Rights if necessary.

President Nicolas Sarkozy has said veils oppress women and are "not welcome" in France.

Similar legislation has already been passed or is being passed in Belgium, Italy, Denmark, Austria, the Netherlands and Switzerland.