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Page last updated at 12:31 GMT, Wednesday, 16 July 2008 13:31 UK

French minister denounces burka

Urban affairs minister Fadela Amara - 14/5/2008
Ms Amara is a French-born Muslim of Algerian parentage

A Muslim member of the French government has backed a court's decision to deny citizenship to a Moroccan woman who wears the burka.

Urban Affairs Minister Fadela Amara said she hoped last month's ruling would "dissuade certain fanatics from imposing the burka on their wives".

She told the newspaper, Le Parisien, the head-to-toe garment was a "prison".

The Moroccan woman, Faiza M, was told that her practice of "radical" Islam was not compatible with French values.

The 32-year-old, who has lived in France since 2000 with her husband - a French national - and their three French-born children, said she had never challenged the country's fundamental values.

Social services reports said the burka-wearing Faiza M lived in "total submission to her male relatives".

'Straitjacket'

Ms Amara, who is a French-born Muslim of Algerian parentage, said she supported the ruling in June by France's highest administrative court, the Conseil d'Etat.

It is not a religious insignia but the insignia of a totalitarian political project that advocates inequality between the sexes and which is totally devoid of democracy
Fadela Amara
French Urban Affairs Minister

"The burka is a prison, it's a straitjacket," she told Le Parisien.

"It is not a religious insignia but the insignia of a totalitarian political project that advocates inequality between the sexes and which is totally devoid of democracy."

The minister said she hoped the court's ruling might in future "dissuade certain fanatics from imposing the burka on their wives".

Ms Amara, who is also a prominent women's rights campaigner, said she made no distinction between the veil and the burka, describing both as symbols of oppression for women.

"It's just a question of centimetres of fabric," she added.



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