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France: Muslim woman fined for driving while wearing burka

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A Muslim woman from France has been fined for driving while wearing a burka because the garment “reduced her field of vision”.

Police who stopped the woman compared wearing a veil over the face behind the wheel to driving with ice on the windscreen, eating a sandwich or smoking a cigarette.

The woman was handed a 35 Euros on-the-spot fine under article 412-6 of the highway code, which states: “Field of vision must not be restricted by either passengers, objects being transported or by the position of non-transparent objects on the windows.”

The woman was also told she was in breach of the country’s controversial burka ban imposed last April, which outlawed anyone hiding their face in public, including in streets, shops, restaurants and cars on public roads.

Police said the woman was pulled over while driving in Saint-Brieuc, Brittany, on Thursday.

Spokesman Laurent Dufour added: “The officer who stopped her said she was driving hesitantly and clearly could not see properly.

“Looking out through a narrow slit in the fabric is as dangerous as driving while eating a sandwich, smoking or with an iced-up windscreen.”

France was the first country in Europe to outlaw Muslim headgear that hides the face. Similar laws have since being passed in Belgium and the Netherlands.


French president Nicolas Sarkozy has described the burka as a “sign of debasement”. France immigration minister Eric Besson called it “a walking coffin”.

Militant Muslim woman Hind Ahmas, 32 – dubbed France’s first “burka martyr” – is currently facing two years in prison for wearing the veil after refusing to pay a 50 Euros fine for the offence.

She is appealing the fine on the grounds that the new law is unconstitutional and preparing to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights.

Senior police chiefs have branded the ban “unenforceable” and said officers were too busy fighting serious crime to go “burka-chasing’.

Leaders of Al Qaeda’s North African network have vowed to seek revenge on France for enforcing the law.

They wrote on an Islamic extremist website: “We will seek dreadful revenge on France by all means at our disposal, for the honour of our daughters and sisters.”