Ban on veil would breach French constitution and European Convention on Human Rights, Council of State insists

France veilFrance’s top legal advisory body has once again raised questions over the legal viability of a bill to ban full Muslim veils in public, just days before it is put before the cabinet.

The Council of State, which advises on the preparation of new laws and orders, earlier this year said introducing such a ban would threaten rights guaranteed under both the constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights. The Paris daily Le Figaro reported on Friday the advisory body had again come to the same conclusion after a meeting with government officials on Wednesday. “A comprehensive and absolute ban on wearing the full veil could not have any legally unchallengeable justification and (it would) be exposed to great constitutional uncertainty,” the paper reported.

The head of the UMP parliamentary group Jean-Francois Cope, who is fighting for the broadest possible ban, said that the panel’s conclusions were not a surprise, but that other legal experts had opposing views. “I, like many, have a difference of opinion with the Council of State,” Cope told a news conference. “It’s an interpretation. But today there are comprehensive and absolute bans existing such as you can’t wander around naked in the road.”

Reuters, 14 May 2010