PARIS (Reuters) - France may introduce a law banning full burqas if a parliamentary commission finds the growing number of women wearing them have been coerced into doing so, a government spokesman said on Friday.
Nearly 60 legislators signed a proposal on Wednesday calling for a parliamentary commission to look into the spread of the burqa in France, a garment that they said amounted "to a breach of individual freedoms on our national territory".
France, home to Europe's largest Muslim minority, is strongly attached to its secular values and to gender equality, and many see the burqa, which covers the wearer from head to toe and hides her face, as an infringement of women's rights and is increasingly being imposed by fundamentalists.
The country has been divided by fierce debates about how to reconcile those principles with religious freedom.
"If it was proved after this inquiry that burqa-wearing was forced, in other words that it contradicted republican principles, then naturally parliament would take all the necessary decisions," Luc Chatel, who is the industry minister and government spokesman, said on France 2 television.
Asked about the possibility of a law, he replied: "Why not?"
President Nicolas Sarkozy has not yet spoken on the subject but promised to address the issue in a speech on Monday to members of parliament.
More than 40 legislators from his ruling centre-right party signed the proposal.
The deputies did not say how many more women were wearing burqas.
The legislators' proposal echoed a controversy that raged for a decade in France about Muslim schoolgirls wearing headscarves in class. Eventually,Christian Louboutin Toutenkaboucle Buckle Sandal, a law was passed in 2004 banning pupils from wearing conspicuous signs of their religion at state schools.
SOURCE: The Star
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