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A woman wearing a niqab veil listens during a seminar organised by the women's chapter of Hizb-ut-Tahrir Britain, to challenge the remarks made by Jack Straw and other British ministers against the veil on October 14, 2006 in London, England.
Nicolas Sarkozy wants to ban women from wearing face veils in public. Under the policy proposed by the French President, Muslim women would not be permitted to wear the niqab, which reveals only the eyes, or the burqa on streets, public transportation, or in markets and shops. The ban would apply equally to tourists. Sarkozy told his Cabinet that the full veil “hurts the dignity of women and is unacceptable in French society.” Belgium is considering a similar proposal. Would the ban empower women in France? Or just the opposite—would the prohibition of certain veils harm Muslim women’s free practice of their religion?
Eleanor Beardsley, NPR correspondent in Paris