French lower house approves full veil ban
The French lower house voted Tuesday afternoon overwhelmingly in favour of a bill banning Muslim women from wearing a full-face veil in public.
The legislation was passed by 335 votes to one in the 577-seat National Assembly, with President Nicolas Sarkozy's right-wing majority voting in favour while the Socialists and Communists abstained.
Socialist lawmakers had spoken out against a total ban on the veil in streets and public spaces, arguing that it would be rejected by the French Constitutional Court.
Amnesty International also condemned the vote, saying it violated the rights to freedom of expression and religion.
"A complete ban on the covering of the face would violate the rights to freedom of expression and religion of those women who wear the burka or the niqab as an expression of their identity or beliefs," said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty's expert on discrimination in Europe.
The bill will now go before the Senate upper house in September.