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MOROCCO, FRANCE: Muslim man denied French citizenship after allegedly forcing wife to wear veil

February 4, 2010 |  8:26 am

_47185686_008615561-1 In France, foreigners married to French nationals need to meet certain criteria before they are granted citizenship, including the ability to integrate well into French society and having "good morals," French immigration minister Eric Besson has said.

A Moroccan man apparently flunked the morals test in his recent request for French citizenship. He allegedly forced his French wife to wear the full-body Islamic veil, or burka.

"This individual imposes the full veil upon his wife, does not allow her the freedom to go and come as she pleases and bans her from going out with her face unveiled, and rejects the principles of secularism and equality between man and woman," Besson was reported as saying. 

He added that the man's request for citizenship was specifically denied based on the morality criteria.

Echoing Besson's argument that the man's actions contradicted French values, French Prime Minister Francois Fillon said on air, in a report from Europe 1 radio, that he had failed to "respect the values" of France.

"He has no place in our country,” the prime minister added.

France's decision to deny the Moroccan man citizenship over the allegation that he forced his French wife to don a burka is the latest incident in an ongoing row over the Islamic hijab in France.

Only last week, a French parliamentary commission recommended that a partial ban on face-covering Islamic veils should be implemented in the country. If the committee's proposed legislation is approved, full-body veils such as the burka would be banned in schools, hospitals, government offices as well as on public transport.

The committee's reasoning behind the proposed burka ban is that requiring women to cover their faces goes against the French republic's values of secularism and equality.

But many critics of the proposed burka ban view it as an attack on Islam and a move by lawmakers to control public space.

Switzerland was similarly criticized in November when the Swiss voted in high numbers in favor of a proposal by the Swiss People's Party (SVP) to ban the building of Islamic minarets in the country.

Meanwhile, some French politicians appear to be branding the burka crackdown as part of France's efforts to step up measures to protect women more than anything else, with French lawmakers such as André Gerin comparing the burka to a "walking prison" for women.

France currently has a proposed law that would criminalize even verbal abuse within marriages. If the bill is approved, France would be the first country in the world to ban "psychological violence" in marriages. 

-- Alexandra Sandels in Beirut

Photo: A Moroccan man was recently denied his request for French citizenship because he allegedly forced his French wife to wear a full-body Islamic veil such as this one. Credit: AFP