Rachid Nekkaz, a rich French real estate dealer, has set up a million-euro fund to pay the fines of women that choose to wear full Islamic headgear.Nekkaz has already paid the 50-euro fines of two Belgian teenagers and one 75 euro fine for a French woman. Those women were charged for wearing the niqab, a face-covering. France and Belgium Islamic headgear that covers the face, such as the burqa and niqab. The more popular hijab, shayla, al-amira, and chador leave the face clear and are not affected by the law. Italy is thought to follow with an Islamic headgear ban of their own soon.
“I’m in favour of a law to convict a husband who forces a women to wear the niqab and who forces her to stay at home,” he told FRANCE 24. “But I’m also for a law that lets these women move freely in the streets, because freedom of movement, just like any freedom, is the most fundamental thing in a democracy.”
Despite his support of women’s right to wear face-covering religious garments, he himself does not agree with the wearing them. “How can a woman truly integrate or find a job if her face is hidden?” he asks.
Mr. Nekkaz is planning to run as a independent candidate in next year’s presidential election. He takes special exception to the headgear ban because he feels that Nicolas Sarkozy made this a priority for the sole purpose of pandering to the rising tide of Islamophobia on France’s far-right.
“Today we might stop women wearing the niqab but tomorrow who will prevent a parliament from voting for laws that ban miniskirts or that ban tattoos or pierced ears? You never know where this kind of downhill slope will end,” he said.