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article imageFrance's Le Pen seeks ban on Muslim, Jewish headwear

By Layne Weiss     Sep 21, 2012 in World
Paris - In an interview with the newspaper Le Monde, far-right French leader Marine Le Pen has said she believes there should be a ban on people wearing Muslim veils or Jewish skullcaps in public.
Le Pen said both Muslim veils and Jewish kippahs should be banned "in stores, on public transport, and on the streets," The AFP reports.
"It is obvious that if the veil is banned, the kippah is banned as well," she said.
According to Haaretz, religious symbols are currently banned only in state schools. There is a separate law which bans wearing the Muslim face veil in public.
Earlier this year, Le Pen won close to the 18% of the vote in the first round of France's presidential election. She ran on an "anti-immigrant" platform, shocking the French elite by doing so well.
She has also called for bans on public prayer, kosher and halal foods in schools, and foreign government financing of mosques in France, The AFP reports.
Le Pen has repeatedly criticized what she describes as the "encroachment of Islam on French secular values," Haaretz reports. Though she has also been critical of the decision by French satirical magazine Charles Hebdo to publish controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad earlier this week.
As a precaution for the anger, protests, and violence the cartoons were likely to cause a decision was made Wednesday to close French embassies, consulates, cultural centers and schools for in 20 countries, BBC News reports.
A complaint was filed against Charles Hebdo Wednesday by the Syrian Freedom Association.
On Friday, France banned protests over the cartoons, Reuters reports.
Government ministers agree that the cartoons are offensive, but also defended the freedom of the press, BBC News reports.
Ms. Le Pen's recent comments have only worsened tensions brought on by the cartoons earlier this week. French President Francois Hollande made it clear that he completely disagrees with the far-right leader's views.
"Everything that tears people apart, opposes them, and divides them is inappropriate, and we must apply the rules, the only rules that we know, the rules of the Republic and secularism," Hollande said according to The AFP.
Le Pen also received criticism from Jean-Francois Cope, leader of the right wing UMP party, the party of former French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
He said Le Pen's calling for the banning any signs of religion in public shows she understands pretty much nothing about France's secular traditions.
Leaders of both Jewish and Muslim organizations have also denounced Le Pen's comments.
Richard Prasquier, head of France's main Jewish council CRIF said her statement showed there were "secular fanatics just as there are religious fanatics," The AFP reports.
France's main Muslim council CFCM accused Ms. Le Pen of wanting to "set up a totalitarian regime in France."
More about Jean marie le pen, Muslim veils, kippah, prophet mohammad cartoons, Tensions
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