PARIS – A Muslim Frenchman at the center of a firestorm over polygamy said Monday that keeping mistresses is the French way of life.
The man's case came to light after his wife was fined for driving with a veil covering her face, and his comments are an ironic riposte to those in French President Nicolas Sarkozy's government who want to push immigrants to better integrate into French society.
The 31-year-old Frenchwoman drew nationwide attention last week to a driving fine she received for apparel that hinders her vision. But it soon emerged that her husband may have four wives — although it was doubtful the marriages were made official under French law.
The situation appeared to be a boon to Sarkozy, who is trying to rush through controversial legislation forbidding burqa-style Islamic veils that cover the face, on the grounds that they don't respect French values or women's dignity. But it has stoked debate and may backfire on legal grounds.
The president of the French parliament's lower chamber, Bernard Accoyer, said Monday the text of the bill to ban full Muslim veils would be presented at a Cabinet meeting May 19.