Europeans, Americans disagree on banning veils

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From the Associated Press. PARIS — While most Americans oppose banning face-covering Islamic veils, most western Europeans questioned in a new global poll say the garments should be forbidden — especially in France, where a ban may soon be a reality.

Several European countries have been considering bans on such veils, with special attention on France, home to western Europe's largest Muslim community and a strongly secular government.

The lower house of France's parliament is expected to approve a divisive bill Tuesday that would make it illegal to wear full-face veils in public. The government says such veils oppress women. Only a very small minority of French Muslim women wear veils such as the niqab or burqa, and many French Muslims fear a ban would stigmatize the whole Islamic community.

A survey by the Pew Global Attitudes Project found that an overwhelming 82 percent of French respondents support a ban. The poll found 71 percent support in Germany, 62 percent in Britain and 59 percent in Spain.

In the United States, 28 percent of those questioned said they would approve a ban.

The pollsters questioned more than 4,000 people by telephone in the five countries as part of a larger poll on global attitudes conducted in April and May. The margin of error was plus or minus 4 or 5 percentage points for the countries asked about the veil. The study was released Thursday.

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