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Veiled Woman Running Against Sarkozy

A woman who openly wears an Islamic face-veil in defiance of a French-ban will challenge Nicolas Sarkozy for the Presidency next year.
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 9/22/2011, 9:11 PM

A French-woman who wears an Islamic face veil in open defiance of a nation wide ban, is planning to challenge Nicolas Sarkozy for the presidency in next year's elections.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Kenza Drider said she wants to defend the rights of all French women. She is among a group of women who want to prove the ban contravenes fundamental rights.

The Burqa and Niqab are broadly seen as evidence of parallel societies and failed cultural integration in Europe, as well as a challenge to the secular underpinnings of modern western democracies.

The law's backers, including President Nicolas Sarkozy, also say the veils imprison women.

"In our country, we cannot accept that women be prisoners behind a screen, cut off from all social life, deprived of all identity," Sarkozy said in 2009, adding burqas were "not welcome" in France.

Drider told AFP she plans to declare her candidacy Thursday in Meaux, a city east of Paris run by top conservative lawmaker and Sarkozy ally Jean-Francois Cope, who championed the veil ban.

Two other women stopped for wearing veils were fined for violating the ban in Meaux on Thursday. They will be required to pay 150 Euros or attend remediary French citizenship courses.

Analysts say Drider’s bid for the premiership has little chance of succeeding in a nation where Muslim cultural separation – of which the burqa is symbolic – is seen as undermining indigenous French culture.

Numerous European countries have various legal restrictions on hijab, most frequently the Burqa or Niqab. Tunisia, Turkey, and Syria also have such legal restrictions.