But… “Fillon’s letter stressed the need for a consensus and that it was important not to hurt the feelings of Muslims.”
Somewhat mixed signals, in an update on this story. What if standing up for Western values like equality and an open society hurts feelings? “French PM asks government body to study burqa law,” from the Associated Press, January 29:
PARIS — France’s prime minister asked a government body Friday to study the legal possibilities that would allow banning face-covering veils in France.
Francois Fillon’s letter to the Council of State came the same week that a parliamentary committee recommended forbidding burqa-like garments in public services, but stopped short of recommending a ban of such dress on the street.
The prime minister’s letter requests the council, which rules on the validity of French laws, to help the government determine how to put in place laws that would make the wearing of all-encompassing veils illegal.
President Nicolas Sarkozy favors an all out ban, saying such garments have no place in France and that the dress debases women. The letter was released Friday.
Conservative lawmaker Eric Raoult, the panel’s No. 2, told The Associated Press earlier this week that a ban could be in place by the end of 2010.
In his letter, Fillon said he wanted the council to advise on legislation that would lead to the “widest and most effective” application possible of a ban. Fillon wants the council to provide its guidance by the end of March.
Imposing a ban of some nature on all-encompassing veils could be done through a parliamentary resolution. However, Fillon said that his government wanted a law in order to demonstrate that such veils “are not acceptable in our republic.”
However, Fillon’s letter stressed the need for a consensus and that it was important not to hurt the feelings of Muslims.