- (Reuters/Morteza Nikoubazl)
Two Muslim women have become the first French citizens to be fined for wearing full Islamic face coverings in public since the practice was outlawed.
Thirty-two-year-old Hind Ahmas and 36-year-old Najate Naït Ali heard the verdict – a 120 Euro and 80 Euro fine, respectively – Thursday, as a conclusion of proceedings in their case, which began in May.
Some veil wearing women have reportedly gathered outside the courthouse to support Ahmas and Naït.
The two women have reportedly declared they will appeal against the ruling and are ready to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights.
One of the women reportedly turned up outside the court for a hearing back in May wearing her full veil, and was not admitted inside.
The law banning women from covering their faces was passed in France in 2010. At the time, the officials said that face covering, which carries a religious meaning, is contradictory to the nation’s strongly secular character.
The law came into force in April this year.
France is the first country in the world to ban face veils. President Nicolas Sarkozy once infamously stated: “Burqas are not welcome in France.”
Several French women have been given verbal warnings by police so far, local media said. This, however, is the first case of the issue reaching courts, according to Radio France Internationale.
At the time of its introduction, France's burqa-ban witnessed protests in the country that led to the arresting of a number of burqa-clad women who refused to leave protests last April.
Some critics have reportedly called the ban racist, arguing that the majority of female Muslims across Europe do not actually wear the veil.
Some Muslim women cover their heads, faces and bodies with veils and other apparel, such as burqas or niqabs.
Belgium passed a similar face veil ban that took effect in July, and the Netherlands announced Friday it has drawn up legislation to outlaw Muslim face veils.
In August, Italy introduced a draft law that would do the same thing.