French PM asks government body to study burqa law

Parliamentary committee has recommended forbidding face-covering veils in public services.

burqa 311 (photo credit: Associated Press)
burqa 311
(photo credit: Associated Press)
's prime ministerasked a government body Friday to study the legal possibilities that wouldallow banning face-covering veils in .

Francois Fillon's letter to the Council of State came the same week that aparliamentary committee recommended forbidding burqa-like garments in publicservices, but stopped short of recommending a ban of such dress on the street.

The prime minister's letter requests the council, which rules on the validityof French laws, to help the government determine how to put in place laws thatwould make the wearing of all-encompassing veils illegal.

President Nicolas Sarkozy favors an all out ban, saying such garments haveno place in and that the dress debases women. The letter was released Friday.

Conservative lawmaker Eric Raoult, the panel's No. 2, told The AssociatedPress earlier this week that a ban could be in place by the end of 2010.

In his letter, Fillon said he wanted the council to advise on legislationthat would lead to the "widest and most effective" applicationpossible of a ban. Fillon wants the council to provide its guidance by the endof March.

Imposing a ban of some nature on all-encompassing veils could be donethrough a parliamentary resolution. However, Fillon said that his governmentwanted a law in order to demonstrate that such veils "are not acceptablein our republic."

However, Fillon's letter stressed the need for a consensus and that it wasimportant not to hurt the feelings of Muslims.