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Burqas are prisons - Muslim minister

Urban affairs minister Fadela Amara says dress is ‘totalitarian symbol’ after court refuses to grant citizenship to wearer.

Urban affairs minister Fadela Amara has branded burqas as totalitarian symbols and said a decision to refuse citizenship to a woman who wore one would dissuade certain fanatics from imposing them on their wives.

Ms Amara, a practising Muslim born in France to Algerian parents, said: "The burqa is a prison, it's a straightjacket.”

She added: "It is not a religious insignia but the insignia of a totalitarian political project that advocates inequality between the sexes and which is totally devoid of democracy."

Despite being a member of the Socialist Party, Amara was asked to join the government by Nicolas Sarkozy after his election. In January this year she said she would not vote for him.

From an early age she has campaigned on behalf of women and Muslims in France and played a critical role in the founding of rights group Ni Putes, ni Soumises (Neither Hookers nor Submissive).

Her comments in Le Parisien came after a court refused to grant citizenship to a woman who wore a burqa and practised a strict form of Islam.

Ms Amara said she made no distinction between the veil and the burqa and added that the ruling might "dissuade certain fanatics from imposing the burqa on their wives."

The Moroccan woman, identified only as 32-year-old Faiza M., turned up for interviews with French authorities to discuss her application accompanied by her husband and wearing the long garment "with only her eyes visible through an opening", according to government officials.

Faiza M., who has been living in France since 2000 and has three children, admitted to leading a reclusive life in a Paris suburb "living in a state of total submission to the men in her family," according to the newspaper.

The decision to deny citizenship to Faiza M. has been supported by politicians from both left and right.

Meanwhile the government is challenging a court ruling which annulled the marriage of a Muslim couple on the basis that the woman had lied about her virginity.


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