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Suspicion of polygamy stokes France's veil debate
by Elaine Ganley
She was fined for driving a car with a veil covering all but her eyes. Now, her husband is suspected of polygamy.
The situation appears to be a boon to President Nicolas Sarkozy, who is trying to rush through controversial legislation forbidding burqa-style Islamic veils that cover the face on the grounds they don't respect French values or women's dignity. But it has stoked debate and might backfire on legal grounds.
Many Muslims fear a law banning face-covering veils because they say targeting the tiny minority of women who cover their faces stigmatizes France's entire Muslim community — at an estimated 5 million people, the largest in western Europe.
The revelation last week that a police officer cited a 31-year-old woman in Nantes for driving with apparel that hinders vision provided a taste of what is in store for France if a measure banning face-covering veils is passed, as expected.
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