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Traditional full-face coverings banned in France

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While Quebec struggles to adopt a well-defined position regarding Muslim traditional vestment, France became the first country in Europe to apply a ban on the wearing of full-face coverings in public places.

On Monday, April 11th, 2011, two women wearing niqabs were arrested just hours after the ban came into effect. However, they were apprehended for taking part in unauthorised demonstrations protesting against the new law, not for wearing face-covering veils. Later, police fined a woman wearing a full Islamic veil 150 euros ($208CAD) in a shopping centre in Mureaux, northwest of Paris. A second veiled woman was arrested on Tuesday morning in Saint-Denis, the northern suburb of Paris. She was not fined but given a warning about the new law.

On March 9th, 2010, former Quebec Minister of Immigration and Cultural Communities, Yolande James, made official the decision that compelled an immigrantfrom Egypt who refused to remove her niqab during her francization course at CEGEP St-Laurent, to take off her face covering whether she considered continuing the French classes. That led to the expelling of the 29 year-old pharmacist from her francization course at CEGEP St-Laurent,as well as, several other French schools soon after. Following that incident,Regie de l'assurance maladie du Quebec(RAMQ), also involved in somespecific and controversial situations,requested instructions from the Quebec Human Rights Commission. The Commission “recommended” RAMQ agents to require niqab or burqa wearing woman to uncover their faces long enough to confirm their identity when applying for the Quebec medicare card.

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