French ban on the public wearing of the Islamic full veil is expected to have an easy passage in parliament’s lower house when it votes shortly. The bill has broad cross-party support in the National Assembly and opinion polls suggest overwhelming public support. To become law, it must be ratified by the Senate in September. Critics point out that only a tiny minority of French Muslims wear the full veil. President Nicolas Sarkozy supports the bill as part of a wider debate on national identity but critics say the government is pandering to far-right voters.

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