The French Catholic Church has warned Paris against banning Muslim
full-face veils. It said France must respect the rights of its
Muslims if it wanted Islamic countries to do the same for their
According to the report
published in Daily Mail,
Bishop Michel Santier, the top French Catholic official for
inter-religious dialogue, said very few women in France wore full
veils and Muslim leaders agreed it was not obligatory in Islam.
we want Christian minorities in Muslim majority countries to enjoy
all their rights, we should in our country respect the rights of all
believers to practice their faith", Daily Mail quoted the
Bishop as saying.
parliamentary commission last week urged the National Assembly to
pass a non-binding resolution condemning full veils and then work
out a law banning them.
Deputies say a total ban may not be legal but certain limits could
"If Paris passed a law", Santier said, "The result could be the
opposite of what is desired and lead to a reaction that increases
the number of women wearing this garment."
French, including the Catholics among them, should not let
themselves be gripped by fear or a 'clash of civilisations' theory",
he said in a statement calling for distinctions between the majority
of peaceful Muslims and a minority of radicals.
dialogue in truth among believers will help us go beyond mutual
mistrust. The path will be long and hard," he said.
The Vatican has long pointed to the rights of Muslim minorities in
Western countries when pressing Muslim countries to allow more
religious freedoms for Christian minorities there.
French Jewish leaders have also expressed concern about a veil ban
and Santier regretted that the parliamentary commission did not
invite Christian or Jewish leaders to give their views during the
six-month-long hearings, which ended in December.
Claude Gueant, a top aide to President Nicolas Sarkozy, said on
Sunday he doubted a total ban would be legally possible.
French police say about 1,900 women wear the full veils, known as
burqas although almost all are Arab-style niqabs showing the eyes.
Critics say they must be outlawed as an insult to women's rights and
a sign of Islamic radicalism.