The French Senate has passed a bill banning the burqa-style Islamic veil on public streets and other places, bringing the measure close to becoming law.
The Senate voted 246 to 1 in favor of the bill, which was already passed overwhelmingly by the lower house, the National Assembly, in July. Leaders of both parliamentary houses have asked a special body to ensure the measure passes constitutional muster in an effort to head off any legal challenges over religious freedom concerns.
The Constitutional Council has one month to rule.
Some Muslims believe the measure was sparked by Islamophobia in France, while supporters of the bill believe it preserves the nation’s secularist values. The bill also has some Muslim defenders.
“How can we allow the burqa here and at the same time fight the Taliban and all the fundamentalist groups across the world?” Sihem Habchi, president of a feminist group, told the Associated Press. “I’m Muslim, and I can’t accept that because I’m a woman I have to disappear.”