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Parisians grumble over veil ban

A woman wears a burqa (full-face veil) in front of Notre Dame Cathedral in defiance of a new French law banning the garment in Paris on April 11, 2011. The controversial new law takes effect today and officially bans all garments which cover the face. Violators are subject to a fine of 150 euros ($217). UPI/David Silpa
A woman wears a burqa (full-face veil) in front of Notre Dame Cathedral in defiance of a new French law banning the garment in Paris on April 11, 2011. The controversial new law takes effect today and officially bans all garments which cover the face. Violators are subject to a fine of 150 euros ($217). UPI/David Silpa | License Photo

PARIS, April 11 (UPI) -- More than 60 people were arrested in Paris for protesting against a ban on the full Islamic veil that came into force on Monday, authorities said.

A law banning a full face veil in public places became law Monday. Supporters of the measure argue the full veil is an assault to gender equality and secularism while opponents said it is an Islamophobic initiative.

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Anyone wearing a full veil in public faces a fine of more than $200 and could be ordered to attend so-called re-education classes.

France has the largest Muslim population in Europe, though only 5,000 women are estimated to wear the full veil. Critics said the measure is part of an effort by French President Nicolas Sarkozy to appeal to the far right, the news agency France 24 reports.

French police during the weekend arrested 61 people protesting the ban. Others were arrested Monday, though French authorities said it was because of holding demonstrations without a permit.

Muslim leaders said the ban is an assault on cultural freedoms, arguing the veil is not necessarily a religious practice.

"This law is Islamophobic and racist," one woman told France 24. "My life now consists of hate stares and insults."

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