A leading French Muslim group spoke out Saturday against a proposed parliamentary study that could lead to a ban on full-body veils, warning it could deepen social rifts and threaten civil liberties.
The French Council for the Muslim Religion urged President Nicolas Sarkozy to defend these liberties, which it said "form an integral part of the foundations of our nation."
Dozens of French legislators have proposed a parliamentary commission to study the small but growing trend of wearing burqas and niqabs, and consider banning the Islamic women's gowns in public.
A burqa is a full-body covering worn largely in Afghanistan with only a mesh screen over the eyes. More common in France - though still rare - is the niqab, a full-body veil, often in black, with slits for the eyes.