France moved a step closer to a legal ban on Islamic veils today.
The lower house of parliament approved a proposed law making it an offence to wear one, a move popular among French voters despite serious concerns from Muslim groups and human rights advocates.
There were 336 votes for the bill and just one against at the National Assembly. Most members of the main opposition group, the Socialist Party, refused to take part.
The ban will now go in September to the Senate, where it also is likely to pass. Its biggest hurdle will likely come after that, when France’s constitutional watchdog scrutinises it.
The main body representing French Muslims said face veils are not required by Islam, and it worries that the law will stigmatise all Muslims.