French court sentences Islamic woman wearing veil

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A French court dismissed a challenge to France’s burqa law and sentenced a young woman to a suspended prison sentence for an argument with police officers who arrested her for wearing the niqab covering her face.

A court in Versailles, near Paris, on Wednesday sentenced Cassandra Belin, 20, to a one-month suspended prison sentence for insulting and threatening police officers and a 150-euro fine for “wear clothes that hide the face“.

He also threw a challenge to the law on the grounds that it violates the constitutional provision of equality for all, declaring that the Constitutional Council has already declared it legitimate.

Riots broke out in Trappes, a town near Paris, in July after Belin, a Muslim convert, and her husband, Michaël Khiri, confronted police officers who arrested her for wearing the niqab.

Belin did not attend Wednesday’s hearing, which was “deplored” by magistrate Florence Perret, who said she would have been ready to discuss a community service sentence if the accused had been present.

The penalties were more severe than the 500 euros fine for insulting a police officer and 150 euros fine for wearing the niqab proposed by the public prosecutor during the Belin tril on December 11.

Belin’s lawyer Philippe Bataille called the sentence “not particularly harsh” and said he would take some time to consider appealing.

But he added that he intended to continue fighting the burqa ban, deeming it discriminatory against Muslims and hostile to freedom.

Khiri, also a Muslim convert, received a three months suspended sentence in November for fighting police officers during the clash with his wife.


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