The Associated Press takes a look at how a controversial new law in France has affected six people.
France’s interior minister says that since a ban on face-covering Islamic veils took effect in April only six women have been convicted and fined.
Government spin? That's for you to decide. And while you are thinking about that, consider also what France 24 is reporting -- a new law went into effect this week making it harder for foreigners to become French citizens.
Claude Gueant said in an interview with the daily Le Monde published Monday that no woman has been sent to a citizenship class — another potential punishment.
Candidates will be tested on French culture and history, and will have to prove their French language skills are equivalent to those of a 15-year-old mother tongue speaker. They will also be required to sign a new charter establishing their rights and responsibilities.
“Becoming French is not a mere administrative step. It is a decision that requires a lot of thought”, reads the charter, drafted by France’s High Council for Integration (HCI). In a more obscure passage, the charter suggests that by taking on French citizenship, “applicants will no longer be able to claim allegiance to another country while on French soil”, although dual nationality will still be allowed.
Guéant, a member of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s ruling UMP party, described the process as “a solemn occasion between the host nation and the applicant”, adding that migrants should be integrated through language and “an adherence to the principals, values and symbols of our democracy”. He stressed the importance of the secular state and equality between women and men: rhetoric perceived largely as a snipe at Muslim applicants, who make up the majority of the 100,000 new French citizens admitted each year.
France’s interior minister has made it clear that immigrants who refuse to “assimilate” into French society should be denied French citizenship.Critics of the ban on the veil and of the new standards for citizenship insist that the government is pandering to the far right and hoping to secure their vote in the upcoming presidential election.