A French parliamentary committee has recommended a partial ban on women wearing Islamic face veils.
The committee’s near 200-page report has proposed a ban in hospitals, schools, government offices and on public transport.
It also recommends that anyone showing visible signs of “radical religious practice” should be refused residence cards and citizenship.
The interior ministry says just 1,900 women in France wear the full veils.
In its report, the committee said requiring women to cover their faces was against the French republican principles of secularism and equality.
“The wearing of the full veil is a challenge to our republic. This is unacceptable. We must condemn this excess,” the report said.
The commission called on parliament to adopt a formal resolution stating that the face veil was “contrary to the values of the republic” and proclaiming that “all of France is saying ‘no’ to the full veil”.
Presenting the report to the French National Assembly, speaker Bernard Accoyer said the face veil had too many negative connotations.
Not just connotations, but a variety of negative practical and ethical implications.
“It is the symbol of the repression of women, and… of extremist fundamentalism.
“This divisive approach is a denial of the equality between men and women and a rejection of co-existence side-by-side, without which our republic is nothing.”
The report is expected to be followed by the drafting of a bill and a parliamentary debate on the issue.
The degree of banning to which Sarkozy will lend his support also remains to be seen.
The BBC’s Hugh Schofield, in Paris, says the reasoning behind the report is to make it as impractical as possible for women in face veils to go about their daily business.
Actually, the veil does that all by itself.
There is also a fear that an outright ban would not only be difficult to implement but would be distasteful and could make France a target for terrorism, our correspondent says….