Muslims should not feel “hurt or stigmatised” by the planned ban on burqas, French President Nicolas Sarkozy has said as the French cabinet approved a draft law to bar the full-face veil from public areas.

Mr. Sarkozy told a cabinet meeting Wednesday: “This is a decision one doesn’t take lightly.”

Once the law comes into force, nobody in France will be allowed to wear a garment “designed to hide the face”. Those breaching the ban will be fined 150 euros or sent on a course to learn the values of French citizenship.

Mr. Sarkozy said: “Nobody should feel hurt or stigmatised. I’m thinking in particular of our Muslim compatriots, who have their place in the republic and should feel respected.”

“We are an old nation united around a certain idea of human dignity, and in particular of a woman’s dignity, around a certain idea of how to live together. The full veil that hides the face completely harms those values, which are so fundamental to us, so essential to the republican compact,” The Telegraph quoted Mr. Sarkozy as saying.

France experienced its first case of anger related to the burqa when a lawyer ripped off a Muslim woman’s veil during a fight in a store.

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