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Monday, 8 February 2010

Immigrants wanting to settle in France to sign a 'no burka' contract

Immigrants must sign a 'no burka' contract before being allowed to live in France, the country's families minister has said.
The clause will be added to an 'integration agreement' all newcomers to France are already asked to sign.
The contract reminds new arrivals that forced marriages and polygamy are not allowed.
Minister Nadine Morano now wants immigrants to acknowledge that full Islamic face veils like burkas and niqabs are not accceptable.
She said an extra clause reminding newcomers that female circumcism was outlawed in France would also be added.
Ms Morano told French radio: 'Equality between men and women is a fundamental principle of French society.
'This applies to polygamy, forced marriages, female mutilation and the full face veil.'
She was set to propose the changes to the integration contract at a government conference today to take stock of its three-month debate on national identity.
Her call comes after months of heated national debate on whether the burka should banned.
Last month a government committee said women who wear the garment should be barred from using public transport and outlawed from public buildings like schools and hospitals.
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But the official inquiry by a group of MPs stopped short of recommending a total ban of the garments, saying they should still be allowed in private homes.
The committee's head Andre Gerin said a full ban could enflame Muslim tensions and drive some to extremism.
Such a move could also backfire as it was likely to be challenged by the European Court of Human Rights, he said.
But he added: 'We are recommending that all women must show their faces when entering public institutions or boarding public transport and keep their face uncovered throughout their presence there.
'Failure to do so should result in a refusal to deliver the service demanded.'
Ms Morano has the backing of many prominent MPs in her call to have immigrants who wear burkas banned from staying in France.
French interior minister Brice Hortefeux said in December that both women who wear veils and their husbands should be 'systematically refused' French residents' permits.
And President Nicolas Sarkozy has branded face veils 'a sign of debasement' and said they were not welcome in France.
The burka is a full-body covering worn largely in Afghanistan with a mesh screen over the face, and the niqab is a full-body veil with slits for the eyes.
Only around 5,000 women among France's five million strong population wear the garments.
France already passed a law in 2004 forbidding students and staff from wearing veils and other religious symbols in schools as part of a drive to defend secularism.
This month Switzerland voted to ban minarets on mosques acorss the country. In September a French mother was banned from wearing a 'burkini' swimsuit at her local swimming pool.
Carole, a 35-year-old Muslim convert, was told by the manager of pool in Emerainville, near Paris, that the garment was 'inappropriate' on hygiene grounds.
The woman said she bought her burkini for £40 during a holiday in Dubai, adding: 'I was told that it would allow me the pleasure of bathing without showing off my body, which is what Islam recommends.'
She is now taking her local council to court on the grounds that the ban was not a hygiene issue but a political issue.

The French parliament will vote on a partial or complete ban within several months and the proposals could come into force by the end of the year.
Daily Mail