French police fine Muslim driver for wearing veil

A French Muslim woman has been fined for wearing a full-face veil while driving a car. Police in the western city of Nantes said the veil – which showed only her eyes – restricted her vision and could have caused an accident. The woman’s lawyer says they will appeal against the decision, which he described as a breach of human rights.

After stopping the 31-year-old woman – who has not been named – police asked her to raise her veil to confirm her identity, which she did. They then fined her 22 euros ($29; £19), saying her clothing posed a “safety risk”.

“This fine is not justified on road safety grounds and constitutes a breach of human and women’s rights,” her lawyer, Jean-Michel Pollono, told AFP news agency. He said the woman’s field of vision was not obstructed and added that a veil was no different from a motorcycle helmet in terms of hindrance to vision. He said he had formally complained to the state prosecutor. “The ball is clearly in the authorities’ court,” he said. “Currently no law forbids the wearing of the niqab.”

BBC News, 23 April 2010