France Denies Citizenship Over Veil
The French government is refusing to grant citizenship to a foreign man who forces his wife to wear the full Islamic veil, amid a fierce debate in the country about national identity.
Francois Fillon, the French prime minister, said on Wednesday he would sign a decree barring the man from receiving French nationality, adding that he "has no place in our country".
The decision comes just days after a parliamentary panel called for a law to ban the wearing of full Islamic veils in public institutions such as schools, hospitals and transport.
"It's French law," Fillon told Europe 1 radio. "The civil code has for a very long time provided that naturalisation could be refused to someone who does not respect the values of the (French) republic.
"This case is about a religious radical: he imposes the burqa, he imposes the separation of men and women in his own home, and he refuses to shake the hands of women," he said.
Debate over burqa
On Tuesday, Eric Besson, the immigration minister, said that during checks into the man's application, he had explicitly stated that he would never llow his wife to leave the house without wearing a full veil and that he believed a woman is "an inferior being".
The man's name and nationality have not been made public, but Le Figaro newspaper said he came from Morocco and requires French citizenship to settle in France with his wife.
Fillon has said the man's wife, who is French, could continue to wear the full-veil if she chooses, pending legislation.
The French government is seeking legal advice before drafting legislation that would outlaw the burqa or niqab in as many areas as possible.
The debate over whether full Islamic veils should be banned has raged in France since Nicolas Sarkozy, the president, said the burqa was "not welcome".
There are concerns such moves would stigmatise the country's Muslim population of around six million people.
Of those, only around 1,900 women wear the niqab or burqa. On Monday the French Catholic Church warned the government against banning the veils, saying France must respect the rights of its Muslims if it wanted Islamic countries to do the same for their Christian minorities.