The French law banning the full-face veil from public spaces has been controversial from the start, with loud debates about the meaning of liberty, individual rights, the freedoms of religion and expression, and the nature of laïcité, or secularism, in the French republic.

While pushed by the center-right and former President Nicolas Sarkozy, the ban was not opposed by the Socialist Party, which largely abstained in parliamentary votes. And the current French president, François Hollande, has said he has no intention of discarding the law, which has been generally popular with the French.

But since it was finally implemented in April 2011, there have been relatively few incidents and fines, and the police, for the most part, have tried to avoid raising tensions with Muslim communities that already feel the burden of discrimination and joblessness.

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