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First two women arrested under French burka ban

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Summary of story from The Telegraph, April 11, 2011

French police arrested two veiled women this morning just hours after the country’s new ban on wearing the burka in public came into force (see WVoN story).

The women were arrested along with several other people protesting in front of Notre Dame cathedral in Paris against the new law.

Jourrnalists at the scene said the arrests came after police moved in to break up the protest which had not been authorised.

On Saturday police arrested 59 people, including 19 veiled women, who turned up for a banned protest in Paris against the draconian new law, the first of its kind to be enforced in Europe.

Earlier, French police said they will be enforcing the country’s new burka ban “extremely cautiously” because of fears of provoking violence.

They fear Muslims extremists will use the law to provoke fights with officers, while rich visitors from countries like Saudi Arabia will also cause trouble .

All garments which cover the face were officially banned from first thing this morning, with offenders facing fines of 150 euros (£133).

But police admitted that they feared being accused of discrimination against Muslims, whether approaching women in tinderbox housing projects or on the Champs Elysee.

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