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France issues first face-veil fines

The women have vowed to appeal in the European Court of Human Rights.

France burka 2011 04 01Enlarge
A young woman wearing the burka, the head-to-toe Islamic veil, passing a book shop in Le Bourget, close to Paris, on March 25, 2005. (Joel Robine/AFP/Getty Images)

France issued fines for the first time Thursday to women who refused to stop wearing full face veils despite a government ban on the practice.

French authorities arrested the women, Hind Ahmas and Najate Nait Ali, for wearing the veils soon after the law took effect in May, BBC reports. A court in Meaux fined Ahmas, a 32-year-old mother-of-three, 120 euros and Ali, 36, 80 euros. The prosecutor requested the women also be ordered to take a citizenship class, but the court denied that request.

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The women have vowed to appeal the punishment at the European Court of Human Rights, the Telegraph reports.

The women were first arrested when they brought birthday cake for the mayor and MP who was responsible for pushing the anti-niqab law through parliament, it states. They have since held several high-profile appearances in which they continue to wear the face-veil.

The women believe the French government will lose if a case against them is taken to the European court, it states.

“(The ban) simply violates my individual freedom, my freedom of thought, of religious expression and practice, and I have absolutely no intention of applying it," Ahmas told the Telegraph.

Countries across Europe, including Belgium, Italy, Denmark, Austria, the Netherlands and Switzerland, have or are planning similar legislation and therefore watched the sentencing closely.

The two women became the first of 91 in France to be fined, BBC states.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/france/110922/france-face-veil-fines