WASHINGTON, (AFP) – US officials have reiterated Washington’s disagreement with a measure approved by the lower house of France’s National Assembly banning the use of face-covering Islamic veils in public.
“We do not think that you should legislate what people can wear or not wear associated with their religious beliefs,” said State Department spokesman Philip Crowley.
“Here in the United States, we would take a different step to balance security and to respect religious freedom and the symbols that go along with religious freedom,” he said.
The bill is not yet law, as it will now go to France’s Senate in September.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s determination to ban the hijab and the burka won enough political support to approve the measure, even though critics argue that it breaches French and European human rights legislation.
“I would only say that, as I understand it, this is a first step in what may be a lengthy legislative and perhaps legal process,” said Crowley.