Today the so called 'burqa ban' has come in to force in France. It prevents women from wearing a niqab, a full-face Muslim veil.
As of today women in France will be banned from wearing the niqab, a full-face Muslim veil, in any public place including walking down the street, taking a bus, at the bank, theatre, library and in shops. Face veils have been banned virtually everywhere outside of women's homes, except in places of worship or travelling as a passenger in a private car.
It is now officially called the bill against 'covering one's face in public places' which French Prime Minister, Francois Fillon, deemed an issue of public order and gender equality rather than secularism or racism. This means that any face covering including balaclavas, hoodies and masks is against the new law. So France has had to seek special exemptions for motorcycle helmets, fencing masks and masks worn during celebrations and parades.
Education Worker for Show Racism the Red Card, Laura Pidcock said, "It is extremely worrying when a government chooses to deny people the freedom to wear what they want, in a way the government is coercing women not to wear their niqab or own choice of dress by the imposition of a fine. It is very sad that women in particular are being restricted in their choice of what to wear because of the perception of Sarkozy [President of France] that all women are forced to wear this.
"Regardless of your opinion on clothing associated with Islam and whether it is oppressive or not, the argument about restriction in dress imposed by the state is different and precarious. SRtRC are extremely sad that the Sarkozy led government have taken this decision and firmly oppose it.”
Only a tiny minority of women in France wear a full niqab, far fewer than in the UK. It is estimated that only a few hundred out of France's 5 million Muslim population wear a full-face veil.
There are many different types of Islamic dress, here is a BBC guide to the different types of veils that can be worn by Muslim women, if they choose.