MEAUX, France - A French court fined two Muslim
women on Thursday for wearing full-face veils in
public, the first time a judge has imposed
punishment under a "burqa ban" law that has become a
legal and cultural battleground across Europe.
One of the women pledged immediately to appeal to
the European Court of Human Rights to overturn the
ban, which President Nicolas Sarkozy says protects
women and guarantees equality but opponents argue
violates human rights and panders to xenophobia.
Only a tiny percentage of French Muslim women wear
full-face veils. But the law, which took effect in
April, has become a focus of debate in
mainly-secular Europe, where right-wing parties
hostile to Muslim immigration are gaining support.