A French teenager who was sentenced for biting a police officer while being arrested for wearing a niqab has appeared in court at her appeal hearing with the veil on.
Louise-Marie Suisse was stopped by two police officers near a mosque in the centre of Marseille in late July, for wearing a niqab – full-face veil – in breach of a ban introduced in 2011.
The court heard the 18-year-old refused to cooperate with the police when asked to produce identity papers.
She admitted biting one of the officers during an altercation.
He gave Suisse a six-month jail sentence to be suspended after four months.
Suisse turned up for the original hearing in 2012 in a full-body black niqab, but with her face uncovered.
France has outraged many Muslims with its law against full veils, which came into force in April 2011 and bans covering a person’s face in public.
Violations are punishable by a fine of up to 150 euros (£128) or mandatory citizenship training.
Police have four hours to consider whether an offender should be fined.
The ban includes all garments which cover the eyes, although scarves, hats, and sunglasses are excluded.
As well as a mosque, Muslims are able to put on a veil in the privacy of their own homes, a hotel room, or even a car, as long as they are not driving.
While French women face the fines and civic duty guidance if they break the law, men who force their wives or daughters to wear burkas face up to a year in prison, and fines of up to £25,000.
In March, a Frenchman who ripped a Muslim woman’s veil off her eyes was given a five-month suspended prison sentence.
The 30-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said he was merely trying to ‘enforce’ his country’s laws when he carried out the attack in the city of Nantes.
He approached the woman in a fairground in September last year and pulled away the veil.
A judgment against him released by the Nantes criminal court said: ‘Ordinary citizens are not entitled to take the law into their own hands.’
The man, who originally gave a false identity to police, said he was a firm believer in the law brought in by government of former President, Nicolas Sarkozy.
But the judge said that he had acted like a ‘vigilante’ and carried out the attack solely because he was prejudiced against the women’s faith.
Sarkozy had described Muslim face coverings as an affront to the principles of the French Republic, saying that they could be used by both shoplifters and terrorists to hide their own identities
Amnesty International is among human rights groups who have condemned the law, saying it breaches the right of freedom of expression.