France Blinks in Burka Ban
Panel urges full veils barred in public facilities
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser User
Posted Jan 26, 2010 2:12 AM CST
A Muslim women clad in burka strolls in a park with her children. A French panel is expected to recommend that women wearing full Muslim veils be banned from public facilities and mass transit.   (AP Photo/Marcus Yam)

(Newser) – The French government appears to be backing down a tad in the great burka ban controversy. While President Nicolas Sarkozy has called for a total ban on full Muslim veils, which he considers a sign of "debasement," a French government committee is recommending that burkas or nijabs be banned only in public facilities and on public transit. Women wearing veils wouldn't be fined, but would be denied access to facilities such as schools, hospitals and the metro. A total ban would be unenforceable and would "make everyone look ridiculous," said a committee member.

The panel is also expected to recommend declaring France's "symbolic opposition" to a full veil, and to emphasize the burka's incompatibility with French values of sexual equality and freedom, reports the Guardian. Steps to ban the burka have been opposed by Muslim and other religious organizations, though most French support a ban, according to a recent poll.