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10, 50 and 100 years ago in France – January 2020

What happened in January 10, 50, and 100 years ago? Burqa ban, SMIC and the president that fell out of a train

JANUARY, 2010 Burqa ban approved

On January 26, 2010, France announced it was to introduce a ban on the burqa and other full-face veils (niqāb) in public spaces, saying “it is contrary to the values of the Republic, namely freedom, fraternity and dignity of people”.

The law came into force on April 11, 2011. Two days earlier, 61 people were arrested in Paris for an unauthorised protest against the move.

On October 23, 2018, the ban was deemed an infringement of human rights in a landmark United Nations ruling following complaints made in 2016 by two French women convicted four years earlier of obscuring their faces in public by wearing veils.

The UN said the ban disproportionately harmed the women’s rights to exercise their religious beliefs.

JANUARY, 1970 France introduces the SMIC

Prime Minister Jacques Chaban-Delmas (pictured) announced the creation of the minimum wage in France, the SMIC (salaire minimum interprofessionnel de croissance) on January 2, 1970.

An earlier version was launched in 1950 (the SMIG – salaire minimum interprofessionnel garanti) but while it took into account inflation, it did not reflect the growth in average wage so became stagnant.

Its replacement the SMIC is indexed both to inflation and to wages.

In 1970, the SMIC was 3.27 francs an hour. It is currently €10.15 gross an hour (€8.03 net an hour, €1,219 net a month).

JANUARY, 1920 President fell out of train

Paul DeschaneL was elected president of France on January 17, 1920, after playing an important role in World War One as an orator.

However, he only served for seven months due to mental health issues.

In May 1920, he fell out of a train after taking sleeping tablets and was found wandering the tracks in his pyjamas.

Later that year, he was found half-naked in the lake at Château de Rambouillet, an incident that prompted his resignation.

After three months in a sanatorium, he was released and elected to the Senate, on which he served until he died in 1922.

He is one of only two presidents to have been born outside France – he was born near Brussels.

The other is Valéry Giscard d’Estaing who was born in Germany.

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