France considers banning tourists wearing full veils
Muslim tourists to France could be forbidden to wear the full-face veil – along with French residents - if the French Government’s plan to ban the garment in public places is given the green light.
“When you arrive in France, you respect the laws in force …. Everyone will have to respect the laws in France. That’s how it is,” the French Junior Minister for families, Nadine Morano, told the radio station France Info, according to reports by news agency AFP.
Morano said women breaching the ban would be fined but would not be unveiled “on the spot”.
Morano said the planned ban was in line with France’s secular principles but also aimed to give “a message at international level” and would apply to residents and visitors alike.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s government has already confirmed it will ban the full-face veil worn in public, despite experts warning that such a law could be unconstitutional.
Government spokesman Luc Chatel said a bill would be presented to ministers in May and would seek to ban the niqab and the burqa from streets, shops, markets and all public buildings.
This news will strike a massive blow to the efforts of French tourism agency, Atout France, to encourage more Middle Eastern travellers to visit the country.
Paris has always been a favourite with travellers from the Gulf but in recent times, Atout France, formerly Maison de la France, has sought to expand the country’s appeal by encouraging travel to other destinations, particularly in the north and south of the country.
This has been aided by the introduction of new air links between the Gulf and France, with Emirates Airline flying direct to both Paris and Nice and Oman Air recently starting services to Paris.
TDME contacted TDME’s Dubai-based Atout France office to find out what impact French Government measures would have on tourism to France but had not received a response at time of press.