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French Senate approves ban on face coverings

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FROM CNN. Paris, France (CNN) -- The French senate approved Tuesday a law banning any veils that cover the face -- including the burqa, the full-body covering worn by some Muslim women -- making France the first European country to plan such a measure.

The law passed by a vote of 246 to 1, with about 100 abstentions coming essentially from left-leaning politicians. The legislation was overwhelmingly approved by the lower house of parliament in July and will go into effect next spring.

The law imposes a fine of 150 euros ($190) and/or a citizenship course as punishment for wearing a face-covering veil. Forcing a woman to wear a niqab or a burqa will be punishable by a year in prison or a 15,000-euro ($19,000) fine, the government said, calling it "a new form of enslavement that the republic cannot accept on its soil."

French people back the ban by a margin of more than four to one, the Pew Global Attitudes Project found in a survey earlier this year.

Some 82 percent of people polled approved of a ban, while 17 percent disapproved. That was the widest support the Washington-based think tank found in any of the five countries it surveyed.

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