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Tunisia police steps up checks for veiled terror suspects

Tunisian authorities said Friday they will tighten checks on people wearing the Muslim full-face veil, as part of efforts to combat Islamist violence, claiming the cover was being used by fugitives. "The interior ministry announces that it will strengthen checks on everyone wearing the niqab," or the veil, the ministry said on its official Facebook page. "The measure is being taken because of the threat the country faces and because of terrorist suspects using the niqab .. to disguise themselves and escape justice," it added.

Weary Tunisian women little cheered over equal rights

For Nadia Mali, with her daily drudgery of being a working mother of six with an unemployed husband, advances in gender equality approved by Tunisia's parliament this week offer little cause for cheer. "There is no equality of the sexes in Tunisia. There are women exhausted by their work which is the sole means of supporting their children," she sighs, as she gathers the green clay and gloves she uses at the hammam, or Turkish bath, where she works.

French court upholds controversial burqa ban

A French court Wednesday convicted a young woman for wearing a full-face Islamic veil in public and threw out her bid to have the country's controversial burqa ban declared unconstitutional. Cassandra Belin, 20, was also convicted for insulting and threatening three police officers at the time of her arrest, which sparked two days of rioting in the town of Trappes, near Paris, in July, 2013. She was given a one-month suspended prison sentence for the clash with the police and a 150-euro ($200) fine for wearing the veil.

French court upholds dismissal over Islamic headscarf

A Paris appeal court on Wednesday upheld the right of a nursery to fire a female employee who insisted on wearing an Islamic headscarf at work. In the latest round of a long-running legal battle, the court overturned a controversial March 2013 ruling that the "Baby-Wolf" kindergarten in the Paris suburbs had been guilty of religious discrimination when it dismissed Fatima Afif in 2008. Afif was sacked after telling her employer that, on her return to work following five years of maternity leave, she wished to wear a headscarf at all times.

Feminists urge Europe court to uphold French veil ban

A leading feminist group on Tuesday urged Europe's rights court to uphold France's ban on full-face veils, saying they are symbols of the subjugation of women. In a letter to the European Court of Human Rights before it begins hearing a case on the issue on Wednesday, the International League for Women's Rights said the ban is "in no way contrary to freedom and dignity". Instead, the group said, the law is aimed at the "liberation" of women because the wearing of veils "is totally incompatible with the very idea of equality".

French veil ban before Europe rights court

European judges will on Wednesday hear the case of a 23-year-old French woman who claims the country's highly contentious ban on full-face veils violates her rights. The Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) will hear arguments in the case brought by a plaintiff known only by her initials SAS, with a ruling expected in early 2014. The law, introduced in 2010, bans the wearing of full-face veils like the burqa and niqab, with offenders facing fines of up to 150 euros ($203).

Britain faces up to Muslim veil ban debate

Britain was dragged into a debate Tuesday on Muslim women wearing full-face veils in public, with its biggest selling newspaper adding to calls from politicians to join European countries that have banned its use. The topic had stayed below the British political radar until the past week when a judge ruled that a Muslim woman will be allowed to go on wearing a veil but must take it off while giving evidence at her trial.

Muslim woman allowed to wear veil in British trial

A Muslim woman will be allowed to go on trial in Britain wearing a full-face veil but must take it off while giving evidence, thought to be a legal first, a judge ruled Monday. Lawyers for the 22-year-old woman from London had argued that removing the niqab against her wishes would breach her human rights and be counter to Britain's tolerance of Islamic dress. But Judge Peter Murphy, sitting at London's Blackfriars Crown Court, said: "In general, the defendant is free to wear the niqab during trial.

British college drops ban on Muslim veils

One of Britain's biggest colleges on Friday dropped a ban on Muslim face veils after thousands of people signed a petition against the rule. Birmingham Metropolitan College said on Facebook it would change its policy to allow "individuals to wear specific items of personal clothing to reflect their cultural values". The college in Birmingham, a city in central England with a large Muslim population, had earlier said it would require "the removal of hoodies, hats, caps and veils so that faces are visible".

'Hijab appeal' campaign divides Sweden

In gender-equality Sweden, a grassroots movement defending women's right to wear hijab has split the nation, backed by politicians and celebrities while critics say it supports a symbol of female "oppression". Hundreds of Swedish women have posted photographs of themselves wearing headscarves on social media sites to show solidarity with a heavily pregnant Muslim woman who says she was attacked outside Stockholm for wearing a veil. Police are searching for witnesses to the incident, which is being treated as a hate crime, and has sparked a wave of online protest.
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