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Frenchman convicted of veil assault

French man admitting to charges of aggravated assault over ripping a Muslim woman's face veil, gets a five-month suspended prison sentence and ordered to compensate victim

AFP , Wednesday 13 Mar 2013
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A Frenchman who ripped a Muslim woman's veil off her face as she strolled in a fairground was Wednesday given a five-month suspended prison sentence and ordered to compensate his victim.

The 30-year-old man, who admitted charges of aggravated assault, had justified the September 2012 attack at the time as an attempt to uphold a controversial law banning women from wearing niqabs, face-covering veils, in public. 

That defence was thrown out by public prosecutors, who accused him of acting as a vigilante and carrying out an assault motivated by his victim's religious faith.

The man, who was not publicly identified on the request of his lawyers, was also convicted of presenting a false identity to police.

The incident in the western city of Nantes was the latest in a series triggered by France's controversial ban on the wearing of full face veils in public, which came into force in April 2011.

Last September, Louis-Marie Suisse, a Muslim teenager in Marseille, was sent to prison for two months after being convicted of biting a policewoman in an altercation sparked by her arrest for wearing a full-face veil.

Under the law, women found guilty of wearing niqabs in public can be fined 150 euros ($190) or be forced to undergo citizenship training.

Human rights group Amnesty International has condemned the legislation as breaching French citizens' right to freedom of expression.

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