France's Socialist opposition decided Tuesday to boycott a vote on a bill outlawing the full-face Islamic veil in protest at the sweeping ban that will apply to all public places.
Home to Europe's biggest Muslim minority, France is set to adopt a bill banning the wearing of the face-covering veil despite warnings from top legal experts that the move may be unconstitutional.
Socialist Party leader Martine Aubry told deputies at a meeting that while they should not vote against the bill, they should not take part in a vote scheduled for July 13, a Socialist party official told AFP.
This article was prepared by the Islam in Europe blog - islamineurope.blogspot.com
"We are against the burqa but we believe that the means chosen to outlaw it are not good," said the party official.
The Socialist stance was agreed just hours before debate was to open at the National Assembly on the bill that would make it illegal for anyone to cover their faces.
The proposed law would impose fines of 150 euros (190 dollars) on those caught wearing the veil and up to 30,000 euros and a one-year jail term to men who force their wives or daughters to cover their faces.
President Nicolas Sarkozy's UMP party and its right-wing allies hold a strong majority in parliament and the bill could easily pass without support from the opposition Socialists.