Wearing the full face-covering veil is already banned in public places in France and now the leader of France’s far-right National Front party wants this to apply to all veils as well as Jewish skullcaps. French far-right leader Marine Le Pen said Friday that she wanted a complete ban on Muslim veils and Jewish skullcaps in public places.
In an interview with French daily Le Monde, 44-year-old Le Pen called for all religious headgear to be outlawed “in shops, on public transport and on the streets.”
Asked if the ban would also apply to Jewish skullcaps, known as kippah, as well as Muslim veils, she said: “Obviously, if the veil is banned, the kippah should be banned in public as well.”
Le Pen also repeated calls for bans on prayers in public places, the serving of kosher and halal foods in schools and an end to foreign investment in French mosques.
‘Anyone can tell the difference’
The wearing of religious symbols such as veils, skullcaps – and also crucifixes – is already banned in state schools in France, although they remain a common sight in public places.
And a law banning the full face-covering niqab or burqa-style veils in public places came into force in 2011, ostensibly to help police with identity checks.
But Le Pen said that the ban she wanted would be aimed directly at religious symbols.
“Clearly, the religious veil should be banned,” said the head of France’s anti-immigration party. “Anyone can tell the difference between a veil worn for religious reasons and one that is not.”
On Friday French President Francois Hollande denounced Le Pen’s comments.
“Anything that divides or opposes people is clumsy and inappropriate,” he said. “The French Republic already has rules on secularism.”
Le Pen’s love-hate relationship with satirical mag
Le Pen, who has called for an end to immigration to France, shocked the country’s elite in May when she took 18% of the vote in the first round of the presidential election.
Her latest comments risk adding to tensions in the Muslim world after French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed on Wednesday.
French embassies, consulates, cultural centres and schools in some 20 Muslim countries were closed on Friday – the Muslim holy day – for fear of retaliatory violence following weekly prayers.
The cartoons in Charlie Hebdo have exacerbated anger among Muslim communities after more than a week of deadly protests sparked by the US-made amateurish video “Innocence of Muslims”.
In the same interview with Le Monde, Le Pen said she supported Charlie Hebdo’s lampooning of religious figures – even though she is currently suing the weekly paper for an extremely unflattering portrayal of herself and her supporters [Link show caricature of excrement accompanied by the text “Le Pen, the candidate that resembles you”]