French parliament sets up burqa commission
PARIS (Reuters) - French legislators on Wednesday set up a panel to look into the spread of full burqas and niqabs among Muslim women in France and will hand in its report by the end of the year.
President Nicolas Sarkozy said that burqas were not welcome in France because they are a symbol of the subjugation of women. Sarkozy's remarks came after 60 legislators signed a proposal calling for the commission to be set up.
Al Qaeda's north African wing has threatened revenge against France for launching a "war" against women wearing the garments.
"These threats do nothing to change our determination to do our work while respecting rights and tolerance," Bernard Accoyer, president of the lower house of parliament, told reporters.
"Threats or no threats, that does not change our determination. Rather it reassures us that we should not accept a society where threats prevail over freedom," he said.
The panel is made up of 32 members of the lower house of parliament from parties on the left and the right. It will begin work on July 8.
France, home to Europe's largest Muslim minority, is strongly attached to its secular values and to gender equality.
(Reporting by Emile Picy; Writing by Anna Willard; Editing by Louise Ireland)
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