Only six women fined since France's 'veil' ban enforced

The French interior minister said there were a total of 237 cases since the law on banning veils came into force last April.

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PARIS // France's interior minister said that since a ban on hijabs took effect in April, only six women have been convicted and fined.

Claude Gueant said in an interview with the French daily Le Monde that no woman has been sent to a citizenship class - another potential punishment.

Controversy surrounded the law. Muslim leaders, most of them opposed to burkas, say the it stigmatises all followers of Islam.

Mr Gueant said police cited a total of 237 women but only six were convicted. He expressed surprise that nearly a quarter of the women police questioned had converted to Islam.

Supporters of the law said it is aimed at ensuring France's secular values and gender equality and nipping radicalism in the bud.