PARIS - The Avenue Montaigne in Paris is a magnet for wealthy shoppers. This summer, though, the Saudi princesses often to be seen browsing in black robes among the Chanel handbags and La Perla lingerie may stay at home — or shop elsewhere.
Under a proposed French law banning women from wearing the burqa in public, they could be fined. Their husbands, often potentates in their home countries, could end up in jail.
“A lot of our customers come from the Gulf, especially Qatar,” said a public relations officer at the exclusive Hôtel Plaza Athénée, a stone’s throw from Chanel. “There is some concern about this law.”
The law is expected to be approved by parliament this week and to come into effect by September, when women offenders could be liable to a £130 penalty and be invited to attend “citizenship classes”. Men found guilty of forcing women to wear burqas by “violence or threats” could be jailed for a year and fined £13,000.
A similar ban will come into force later this year in Belgium. In Italy a woman was fined £430 for wearing a burqa last week under a 1975 terrorist law banning clothing that prevents a person from being identified in a public place. Her husband said that she would have to stay at home in future.
A French Muslim woman was fined last month for wearing a burqa at the wheel of her car, which was deemed dangerous because it impaired her vision. Her lawyer lodged an appeal, claiming her human rights had been infringed.
Opinion was divided on the Avenue Montaigne about whether wealthy visitors from the Gulf should be subject to the law.
“They’re some of our best customers,” said a shop assistant in Chanel. “It’ll mean a drop in our sales.”To read full Times of London story — Go Here Now.
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