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First Women Convicted In France For Wearing Islamic Face Veil

Prospective French presidential candidate Kenza Drider says she has been wearing the niqab for 13 years.
A French has convicted and fined two women for wearing Islamic face veils in public in defiance of a ban which came in effect in April.

On September 22, the court in the town of Meaux, near Paris, fined the women 120 and 80 euros respectively.

In May, the women had shown up wearing niqabs outside the Meaux town hall with a birthday cake for the conservative mayor, who championed the ban.

France is the first European country to ban the wearing of the Islamic burqa, or full-body covering, and the niqab in public.

Several women have been fined on the spot by police for wearing the niqab, but today's case is the first to come to court.

Hind Ahmas, one of the women, indicated that she hoped to be fined so that she could challenge the ban all the way to the European Court of Human Rights, if appeals in France fail.

"They are applying a law that violates European laws," she said. "For us the question isn't the amount of the fine, but the principle. We can't accept that women are convicted because they are freely expressing their religious beliefs."

Veiled Muslim Woman To Run For French Presidency In Protest

Also in Meaux, a Frenchwoman wearing the niqab is expected on September 22 to announce her intention to run in France's presidential election next year.

Speaking to reporters from several French and international media on September 21, Kenza Drider said she wants to defend the rights of all French women.

Drider, who is of Moroccan origin, says she has been wearing the niqab for 13 years.

She says the law that has banned Muslim face veils from the streets of France since April contravenes fundamental rights.

She says she plans to declare her candidacy on September 22 in Meaux, a city east of Paris which is the base of a leading conservative lawmaker who championed the veil ban.

compiled from agency reports

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